Hooray for autumn!


I’m not quite sure about the ‘hooray’, though autumn is a season I like. The hooray isn’t for autumn per se – after all, autumn means chopping logs, mopping condensation from windows, cutting things back and having to take debris to the tip because the brown bin is filled as soon as it’s been emptied. But a couple of years ago I was complaining about the lack of colour in my garden at this time of year, and I set out to change it.

And I’m getting there:

bottom garden

especially in the bottom garden.

This really came home to me today when I wanted to pick a bunch of flowers for a friend’s birthday. There are some Japanese anemones in the top garden (how the heck did that happen?), so I thought I’d start with those, but they’d gone over a bit. So I migrated downwards, certain that the recent temperature shift meant there’d be very little. Yes, it looked OK-ish from the house, but close up?

I needn’t have worried. I can’t get over the cosmos – it is still going strong and, apart from a couple of collapses, is standing proud.


Some are even ‘seashells’, which they are all supposed to be. I’d like more deep crimson ones, but I’m not complaining, just speculating. I’ve got some more seed to add in, so I think I’ll get that scattered soon. Or maybe not – the few that self-seeded last year were a bit scrappy. These were sewn direct in March, and have well outperformed the ones I tended carefully in seed trays, plus I’ve been quite good with the dead-heading. There are still insects on them, making the most of the last flowers. Quite a few cosmos for my bunch of flowers, then. Pink, white and one crimson.

Some of the salvias are having a second flush, so I added some purples and then retrieved a few cerinthes, but they really do need to come out as they are way past their best. The dahlias are still enjoying themselves, but the Bishop of Llandaff clashed horribly with everything else I’d picked, so I cut a couple of Arabian Nights instead. Then I added a rudbeckia,


but just the one as the earwigs / slugs / snails / Next Door’s Cat / dragons have been nibbling lightly on some. I needed more froth and happily some umbellifers have sprung up in my ‘chuck all the leftover seeds in and see what happens’ bed.

??? Who knows?

These must have been in the tin. They haven’t appeared anywhere else, which they would have done if they’d spread from outside (I’m not a keen weeder), but I certainly don’t recall having anything like them or even owning a wildflower seed mix. Any guesses? It’s late flowering, that I do know. Whatever they are, some made their way into my, er, bouquet as did a few Japanese anemones that were in the middle garden.

I’m not a huge cut-flower fan, I’m afraid: I prefer them growing to sitting in water in the house. But I did enjoy assembling this rather loose collection – very arty it was too, until I tied it together with some kitchen string, put the ends in wet kitchen towel and stuffed them in a plastic bag for transport. But even I knew that some things wouldn’t fit. You can’t add colchicums, and much to my surprise I’ve had a mini river of them at the house edge of the meadow this year. The lavender is really over so it wouldn’t do, but it is still popular with the carder bees so it stays for the moment. Geranium sidoides would have worked colour-wise, but not in any other way:

G sidoides

plus, I love it too much to cut it for the house. Gorgeous colour, delicious velvety texture.

And there’s not much I could have done with mushrooms, which are springing up everywhere.

mush room in the meadow

I’ve got several different varieties, but I’m not confident about identifying any of them. There’s a fungus foray coming up soon, along part of the Mawddach Trail, but it could easily reclocate to the garden. Maybe it’s because we cut the meadow earlier than normal (in which case we’re doing it again); maybe it’s because it’s a very good mushroom year; maybe it’s a combination of the two. I’ve been out repeatedly with my Roger Phillips, I’ve made spore prints, and I’ve still not got a clue what I’ve got. Oh, for the simplicity of a fairy ring…


17 Comments Add yours

  1. Christina says:

    I can’t believe that you still have Cerinthe! mine were pulled out in June, but they have left hundreds, no, probably thousants of seedlings that are coming up thickly, I’ll move some and turn some into compost. Love your Cosmos, I’m never successful with it and I do like it a lot.

    1. kate says:

      They’re a bit scrappy, and most of them have fallen over, but they’re still there – can’t quite beleive it myself, either. But they haven’t been that good this year; don’t know if the weather didn’t suit or if I need fresh seeds… Will I go for them next year? Not sure, but like you I’ve got lots of self-seeded ones…

  2. Pauline says:

    Lots of lovely blooms there, your friend is very lucky to receive such a lovely offering. Seeing everyones Cosmos has made me determined to grow some next year, they are so pretty!

    1. kate says:

      They’re so easy, as well – and so effective. I’m going to plant even more!

  3. Mmm, lovely! I like the cosmos, lots, in fact, which is worrying because its pink. But there again so is my Tamarisk, and I rather love it despite myself. Not a clue what your umbellifer is, but collecting seed seems to be a good idea, it is really pretty. Am in love with your geranium. I have promised myself that once the bulk of the garden taming is done I will treat myself to a nice selection of scented pelargoniums, but at the moment I need the greenhouse room for seedlings to fill the borders with!!

    1. kate says:

      Me too on Cosmos and pink (and I’m the one who wrote, a couple of years ago, that there was no pink in my garden and never would be).

      That geranium is fabulous. I didn’t really get the leaves in shot, but they are a soft grey-green, and have an almost suede-like texture. Perfect… and I must remember to bring it in this winter; I almost lost it last year…

  4. Cathy says:

    But you didn’t show us a picture of the ‘bouquet’ (minus its wet kitchen towel and poly bag) Kate – I was looking forward to seeing the final offering! 😉

    1. kate says:

      I know, I know – but I was (as usual) running late – hence the kitchen towel etc – and by the time I’d thought ‘must photograph that’ it was on it’s way with me but without a camera/phone. The recipient liked it – always a relief…

  5. Dobby says:

    I still have some colour. Mainly yellow from the Helianthus which have been glorious this year. Must think about some more late flowering plants. I certainly couldn’t make up a posy. Well done you.

    1. kate says:

      Bet you could… must come over and inspect!

  6. hillwards says:

    We get lots of random mushrooms popping up in the garden at this time of year too. Damp welsh climate for you! I sent pics of some off for id a few years ago, but they came back as ‘probably in this very large impossible to id definitively without a spore print and not very interesting or at all edible anyway group’ so now I just notice them, and walk on.
    Had just two cosmos here this year, both self sown from last year and very late and quite small, though one was white and seashell-like, similar to your pic, and I have been quietly appreciating its appearance these past few weeks.
    Lots of lovely late colour – and I do love the deep velvety depths of that Pelargonium sidoides, it’s one of those I think about acquiring if I venture down the dangerously addictive road of species and scented-leaf pelargoniums…
    Your umbellifer almost looks like Orlaya grandiflora, but with less pronounced outer handkerchiefs… I’ve tried to grow that from seed with no success, so haven’t seen it up close and personal though.

    1. kate says:

      Yes, I think my mushrooms are in the same group. One could be a brown roll rim, or maybe something else. I’m supposed to be going on a fungus foray next weekend, maybe they could do my garden instead…

      Interesting that your self-sown cosmos were also a bit disappointing. I’ve just been deadheading mine, so I’m not feeling guilty – they obviously do better if deliberately planted. Delicate little– hang on, thugs. But pretty thugs. Sidoides is my favourite geranium ever, go on, you know you want one…

      I’ll check out the Orlaya. Whatever it is, I have no idea how the heck it got here, but I do like it. The heads sort-of fold in on themselves once they’ve done flowering, not like most wild umnbellifers. Maybe it will self seed if I leave it long enough.

  7. Sandra says:

    Oh what a wonderful blog. I came across it after trying to find your email address from Karen’s page. I just wanted to say that I lived in Edinburgh for 26 years but did not visit the Botanic Gardens until I was mid 50’s and visiting family. So I understand you not getting to the Cambridge Botanic Gardens in three years. (you were busy studying all the time)!!

    1. kate says:

      Hiya Sandra, glad you found me… what an interesting talk that we had on the Botanic Garden, really good. Looked perfect in autumn too…

  8. As time passes and experience grows the garden undergoes a lot of change until one day you realize it blooms and has interest year around…that is what I see in your garden, it is absolutely beautiful. I love the photos.

    1. kate says:

      Thank you – it’s exactly what I wanted (though our recent storm had changed it a little, ahem). I keep going out and looking at it in wonder!

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