Friday, October 20, 2017

Beauty in decay as the garden prepares to sleep

I know a lot of people feel melancholy at this time of year as the days grow ever shorter and Nature shuts down for the Winter. I struggle with the dark mornings and find that I get up at least an hour later than during the lighter months.

What I love about it though is watching the garden give us the most spectacular display. Leaves turning wonderful shades of yellow through to rust, trees dropping their nuts/seeds and the fungi popping up everywhere.

There is such beauty in decay be it in us humans as faces wrinkle with age (I much prefer a face full of character than one full of botox!) or plants shutting down for their dormant period. You may have guessed that this is going to be a rather photo-heavy post and you are quite right! I've actually had to split it into 2 parts as I have a massive selection of photos of fungi to share too.

We had some dramatic skies the other evening as the latest storm sidestepped us:

That's a mini tornado forming high up there......

...thankfully it didn't come any lower!

The eerie pink colour came from all the dust collected in the storm apparently

Around the garden the plants are delighting us as they prepare for their Winter rest:

The fabulous purple berries on our Callicarpa bodinieri always make me smile. In Spring the leaves emerge in the most beautiful bronze colour.

The giant plumes of the Pampas grass look pure white when they emerge. This is part of a large clump that was in the front garden of our last home. It was such a gorgeosu plant but it was in the wrong place so I dug it all up (that burned some calories I can tell you!) but planted a small clump in a pot for future use. It spent 5 years languishing neglected in its pot alongside the barn when we first moved here but it forgave me when it became an integral part of the front garden. The stems are 12 feet high this year. Modern hybrids are bred much shorter for small gardens but I much prefer these looser and more graceful plumes.

Looking across part of the front garden the eye is drawn to a variegated Cornus 'Hedgerow Harvest'

Here it is in close-up, backlit by the sun, with the browning leaves of Hosta 'Big Boy' at its feet.

The leaves of the Bergenias turn a brilliant scarlet

I'm pretty sure that the red-stemmed dogwood heard me say I was going to move it to the back garden this year as it's grown to twice its normal height and produced such intense dark crimson leaves just to show me why it should stay where it is! It's still being moved though as I want to replant part of that bed.

This yellow-leaved jasmine really shines in the low light levels

I couldn't resist a closer view of the Pampas and other assorted grasses in this bed. They all bring wonderful movement to the area as they ripple in the wind.

Here's a close-up of the red-leaved Berberis with it's beautiful shiny berries.

I took this to remind me it's nearly time for my cacti and succulents that have been having a holiday in the sun during the Summer to go into the garage for the Winter. The silvery white foliage of Artemesia ludoviciana really shines behind the dark rosettes of the Aeonium.

I love this golden Hakonechloa macra at this time of year. The flower panicles contrast so beautifully against the foliage.

The seedpods of the Cercis are spectaular in the autumn sun. This is not the healthiest tree and has been on my 'watch list' for several years.

The pretty flowers of this fuchsia stand out now the leaves have fallen. The grass in the righthand corner of the photos is Stipa tenuissima 'Hair' which I adore but others hate because it seeds all over the place.  I love the way it ripples through this border when the wind blows.

One of my desert island shrubs, Euonymous alatus, never fails to delight. It's common name is 'Burning Bush' for reasons which become obvious at this time of year. But that's not its only attractive feature. It's bark is absolutely stunning too, see below.....

....isn't it gorgeous - all corky and interesting!

The grasses really earn their keep in the Autumn. I've drawn a blank on its name for the moment. I bought it about 8 years ago and I think it's a Stipa calamagrostis, possibly 'Sonata' 'cos I know I bought it for the musical association.

The beautiful white flowers, with their green tips, of Fuchsia 'Hawkhurst' bring to life a slightly shady area - the purple flower is a cheeky Verbena bonariensis  which has beautiful seedheads and its stems are square.

The flowers of this Sedum Telephium look amazing even when they've finished flowering.

The seeds of this Cyperus are absolutely stunning, except when they seed into the gravel drive (although they are quite easy to pull out)!

I don't cut back the stems of plants in my gravel garden until early Spring as they make a nice snug hiding place for insects etc. I love the fluffy seedheads of this Eupatorium.

The courgettes have been plentiful this year, happy in their spot on the compost heap.

Still flowering, but the courgettes are getting a bit soft now and quick to disintegrate.

Probably my penultimate haul for this year - destined to make my spicy courgette fritters, ratatouille and a lemon & poppyseed courgette cake.

Last but not least we had to cut the grass in the orchard. We usually use scythes but the head fell off mine and I can't use Mike's 'cos it's too heavy and also the thought of tackling that with sore hands really didn't appeal at all anyway so we used one of these little beauties which is like a push-along strimmer with a nylon line that chops the grass:

Mike had first go 'cos he's a man and they all like this sort of toy!

Then I had a go to give him a rest then whilst he took the next shift I raked the cuttings into piles.

But sadly we had to say goodbye to my trusty wheelbarrow. Anyone with horses knows that you get through wheelbarrows like nobody's business and so you become creative in keeping them going. This one sheared off its frame about 10 years ago whilst I was shovelling horse poo in the field. Undeterred I tied it back together with baler twine, as you do, and amazingly it remained serviceable until then when one of the rusted struts fell off and I had to admit defeat.

As soon as we'd finished and gone inside the birds came down to investigate! There were seeds to peck plus there was a myriad of animal runs, probably voles, to explore.  We rescued several newts, frogs and a baby toad and took them to safety.

I may have to do a cull of my photos of fungi as there are soooooo many. But then again, they are really beautiful................but first I've got some cake baking to attend to ahead of the Cakeathon Challenge on Sunday which will be the anniversary of my 100th marathon.


Anonymous said...

Stunning images , you are so right about the beauty of Autumn.

Susie Hewer said...

Thanks nanacathy.