Home Index Web Stuff Copyright Links Me Archive


25th October 2020.
Acer palmatum .

Acer palmatum 'Azuma Murasaki'.

Acer palmatum 'Hessei'.

Acer palmatum 'Mai Mori'.

Acer palmatum 'Brocade'.
I have hardly seen the garden in the last few days. I have stayed indoors as the rain has fallen. The only way I would have seen the garden is as it slipped down the hill in the deluge and passed the windows. That hasn't happened and it is a good thing. A quick trip round with a camera emphasised the fragility of autumn. Last week there seemed to be flowers hanging on defiantly, this week they look defeated.
A couple of weeks ago the gales snapped a large branch from my Liquidambar. I saw it as a warning that there wasn't going to be much autumn colour this year but I was wrong. The colour has been bright, though often in strange places.
The first sound of the season came from the sycamores on the back boundary. A thick carpet of fallen leaves had a delightful crunch on Monday, like the celery in a salad. It didn't last long. Leaves that could be kicked around breezily have settled on the ground like a cake that didn't rise. Acer palmatum has responded with a flash of scarlet. I bought a lot of young plants years ago with no idea what I was going to do with them. Eventually they were planted out in the only available space, in full sun and exposed to the wind. They have been an unexpected success and capture a brief moment. Last week the garden was flowery, next week it could well be naked. In between it has a brief, glorious moment.,

25th October 2020

Rubus fruticosus .
Autumn colour is an unreliable thing in Cornwall. I have just watched a short online video of the colour in New England, an almost inconceivable beauty, but I am a bit perverse. It is also reliable and I am not sure that is what I want. I like the unlikely chance that brings a flash of colour to the end of the year. I like the thin thread of possibility that the display hangs on. I like the sense of impending collapse. There is even a part of me that likes to see the leaves ripped from the trees before their time, autumn demolished for another year. It takes the spectacular and makes it precious.
For years I have had Euonymus alatus 'Compactus' on my planting list. It produces reliable colour in this damp climate, the robust leaves turn bright red and hang on for weeks. Somehow I never quite get around to buying one. "Reliable" seems to pour cold water on the extravagant, flimsy, whimsical nature of the autumn colour that I enjoy. Just the thing for a public park but I'm not really sure I want one in the garden (I will entirely reverse that opinion once I have one).
However it is true that the blackberries have given me enormous pleasure. The clawing stems that are constantly invading from the hedges are decked with bright flags like high security bunting. There are still ripe fruits to be found but they have passed their best, the bright foliage is the treasure of the season.

25th October 2020

Geranium robertinum .
Dear smelly Herb Robert has also taken the opportunity to colour well this year. It appeared in the garden as soon as I started disturbing the ground and since I had it as a weed anyway, I added a pale pink flowered form for the sake of diversity. The pure white flowered form also prospered for a few years but it preferred to grow in the gravel paths that have long since vanished under thick grass.
It wanders around the greenhouse unhindered by my attempts to remove it. The seedlings seem to specialise in growing in awkward places. They will germinate on the greenhouse timbers, taking advantage of any hint of moisture, going straight to flower and seeding before they can be removed. They grow behind the benches, appearing suddenly in the gap between the bench and the plastic. I yank them out but they snap off at the base, shooting again from the stump. The only way to remove them is to fossick around under the benches on hands and knees, emerging tired and foetid from their sap.
There really is no good reason for being fond of them, but I am. A moment of astonishing colour is all the payment I am going to get for the work they cause, I might as well enjoy it.

25th October 2020

Cornus 'Norman Haddon' .
Cornus perplex me. I will never get the bright flames of Cornus florida illuminating the undergrowth. It rarely colours well even in the eastern counties, in the wet west the leaves simply fall to the ground with a gentle thud as the season ends. However some of the spectacular spring flowering forms produce a good display of fruits at the end of summer.
Cornus 'Norman Haddon' went in quite by chance. It sat around in a pot for a couple of years waiting for a moments inspiration that didn't happen. Eventually I needed the space and it was planted out in the first space I came to. It wasn't tastefully associated with suitable companions but it doesn't matter. Within a decade it had grown so large that nothing nearby had survived. There may be a small Acer still cowering beneath it - I keep meaning to fight my way in and rescue it - but it may be dead now. The fruits of the Cornus hang on for seveal weeks because they aren't nutritious enough for the birds to eat them. Eventually they soften and fall, I think the badger clears them away. A single seedling at the top of the garden has been the only product of the annual bounty.
By next week the clothes of summer will be shed, colours will have gone and the dark nights taken over. The pace of the garden slows, it is a relief.