No matter which school of thought you follow, we are now in autumn having passed the equinox at a quarter past nine last night, give or take a few minutes. The season of mists and so on, fabulous colours on trees, which should be extra good for many of us this year as there has been less than average rainfall, which does something chemical to the leaves and means there will be even better foliage colours for us to enjoy. But for some people it's a depressing time of year, it means summer is gone, and it's all downhill to winter/Christmas... but then dear miseryguts, Spring must surely follow, so not all bad news then?
We were delighted to discover a group of about four sweet chestnut trees recently. Well, we weren't sure that's what they were, and were rather hoping we'd be proved wrong as they are on a narrow, open country lane between two little hamlets, which we travel along many times during the year, and have never noticed these trees before. Instead, being lovers of chestnuts, we have spent lots of money on imports from Spain which are OK, better than the vacuum-packed chestnuts any day in my book. And what we don't munch roasted, or use in casseroles and so on, go into the freezer to be used later in the season when they are no longer around. Because like many good things, their season is short, and unlike strawberries and so on which people can grow all year round, to the detriment of the fruit many say, nuts are there that one time aren't they? Make the most of them... so we bought the above prickly offering home, and looked in our BOOK OF THE COUNTRYSIDE, and had it confirmed that yes, they were indeed sweet chestnut trees. Since then, of course, on other ramblings about the place, we have noticed others, and kicked ourselves again for lack of observancy.
My favourite garden centre is a riot of colour at the moment, having had a new delivery of plants when we visited last week. We didn't go for plants but for jigsaws... I know that seems strange, but there is nowhere else that sells them, and in the now obligatory (so it seems) gifty area you find in most large garden centres these days, there is a fabulous selection of Gibson's puzzles. We usually buy a few during winter, and always a couple of special Christmassy ones. However, when you visit a garden centre it would be churlish not to buy a plant, don't you think? Or two even? Maybe three? The heucheras above were so gorgeous, everyone was stopping to comment, and as we have a couple of them already, I decided to buy another, PEACH FLAMBE it's called, in autumnal leaf shades. I also bought a pennisetum, black stems and narrow leaves, with wonderful, fluffy, cat's tail-shaped furry flowers, which I can't resist stroking as I pass. I used to do it to our old Rosie cat, even though she sometimes objected! And we bought a crocosmia, in flower. The other two we have, the rather common (in that most gardeners who have crocosmia seem to have it) LUCIFER, and a smaller orange one. Both are well over now, just the interesting flower heads left, and we wanted another one to follow on.
But I resisted the mophead hydrangeas, such great fat cushions of flowers they had....
and this pinky spikey plant, and the conifer behind it. But couldn't resist getting out the camera.
Of course, there are many reasons why I love autumn. It's not just the colours, or the drawing in of the evenings, when you can close the curtains, shut out the world and snuggle down in front of the fire with a good book, or watching the telly with a bar of Green and Black's chocolate - one of the very small ones for me, thanks. Nor is it all down to spending time with gardening books, seed catalogues and Gardener's World magazine, looking at what to grow next year - and did you know Monty Don has just won a prestigious award for Columnist of the Year, something like that? So WELL DONE MONTY, and well-deserved too.
But I digress.... I also love the crisp, frosty mornings, with pearl necklaces strung across the plants, a white sparkliness covering everything, and that particular smell you get at this time of year, redolent of woodsmoke and compost, even though there's not a bonfire in sight usually. And I also love the foodie side of the season..... lots of appley puds, brambly puds too. Sponge pud and custard, with golden syrup. Heart-warming soups and rib-sticking casseroles... the former with garlicky croutons and the latter with herby dumplings. Lots of lovely meals made with lots of lovely root veggies like those above... I couldn't resist buying the squash... must grow some next year.
There is still a lot of colour in the garden to be enjoyed. The grasses down the bottom of the garden with their huge feathery plumes look beautiful against the blue of the sky, as does the holly tree below. But some of the foliage in the garden is slowly changing colour, this photograph shows a climber over one of the arches leading to the lawned area. Pretty soon it will all be in varying shades of this red, and then not long after, they will all fall to the ground and the bare bones of the arch on show again, revealing the fact that it's a bit out of shape. Leaves do the wonderful job that clothes do for us humans, hiding the imperfections.
And amongst the hundreds of holly berries, a honeysuckle still flowers, but you can't get close enough to smell it.
There are marigolds, small wild poppies of all colours, chocolate crocosmia still flowering like mad, as is the white cosmos, penstemmons, wallflowers opening now too, and lots of foliage from the many grasses we have dotted around. The peonies dying, have a wonderful deep red colour to the leaves, the hostas are dying too, their leaves going a bright, bitter lemon colour, some a deeper shade almost buttery, and others still vibrant and green. In the raised bed my carrots are still growing, as is the garlic and giant Italian parsley, and there are still a couple of lettuces to be cut. Tomatoes ripening like mad, but I am not happy with this particular variety, which are small, but with very tough skins, large seeds and little flesh between the two. I shall maybe roast them and make roast tomato soup at the weekend. That's a good autumny flavour, don't you think?
Enjoy your autumn, and thanks, as ever, for dropping by.