Thursday, 8 October 2009

October in the Garden

The Garden, Autumn

by Vita Sackville West

Autumn in felted slipper shuffles on,
Muted yet fiery, - Autumn's character.
Brown as a monk yet flaring as a whore,
And in the distance blue as Raphael's robe
Tender around the Virgin.

This year's colours are absolutely spectacular, I have never seen such brilliant reds, ochres, golds, and yellows. we had the first frost of the year last night, but it seems to have done no harm; on the contrary, the colours appear to have been intensified by the cold. I have brought in all tender plants that I wish to save for propagation; there will be an earthy smell about the place for a few weeks until I have dealt with and safely stored geraniums, dahlias, some grasses and a few of the lavenders and rosemarys; I lost too many plants last year to risk repeating my mistakes.

This is a narrow border close by the house.
In the picture are the dying leaves of a herbaceous paeony,
the flame-coloured plumes of a green-leaved cotinus,
and the golden leaves of a choisya.

This is an unusual and beautiful spiraea, which I grow mainly
for its foliage. What it lacks in stature it makes up for in
the colour of its leaves: they are golden in spring and vary
from deep red to the palest bronze in autumn.

The spindle tree (Euonymous) is an indigenous
tree of the hedgerows in Europe.
It is pretty inconspicuous for long periods.
It produces small white flowers in May which turn into
a profusion of rose-red capsules which open to reveal orange seeds.
But in autumn it takes centre-stage in any garden, it turns a
deep red flame, stealing the show
and overshadowing in beauty any rare shrub you may be cosseting.

I love Euphorbias, a plant of mediterranean origin and I grow several varieties.
They are not strictly speaking of particular interest in autumn;
they make quite a show in any season.
But they can be relied upon to provide colour ranging from
lime green over deep green to reddish purple in autumn and deepest winter.
They certainly earn their keep.

At this time of year and during the winter the small, unassuming
cyclamen fill many a shady space in the garden which would otherwise be bare.
This clump is growing around the foot of an ancient rambling rose.

But the biggest scene-stealer in the garden in October is this ornamental cherry tree.
On the tree these leaves provide a kaleidoscope of changing colour
with every breath of wind that touches them.
Underfoot they are the brightest oriental carpet you have ever walked on.

And finally, some advice for October:

Plant gooseberries, currants, raspberries and strawberries, that they may take root before winter; for those which are planted at this season will produce fruit the following summer, whereas those which are planted in spring, have seldom strength enough to produce any (or at least very few) until the second year.

Philip Miller The Gardeners Kalendar 1732


  1. Friko,
    The colors in your garden are very vibrant. The ornamental cherry looks amazing. The shapes of your plants add dimension to your garden and I noticed a wide variety of textures. Thank you for the tour!=D

  2. Beautiful, Friko! The first photo looks like a watercolor with the impressionistic pink (peony?). You have such a variety of color. That cherry tree! All of the fall hues (another possibility for a watercolor!). I enjoyed your writing. xxox

  3. Friko: What a lovely Autumn garden! Love the cyclamen and the spiraea. Most of our euonymous here in Canada are bushes - I don't think I have ever seen a euonymous tree. It sounds delightful. Your commentary is as lovely as your images. Thank you. We must be on the same wave length, as I posted images of fall as well - but I need you to write the descriptions!!

  4. There is just not much going on down here yet. I have five burning bushes planted for a hedge and one of those bushes is turning red. Why just one out of five I can't imagine. Everything is still so green.

  5. Your garden looks so lovely. The only way I can tell it's autumn here in San Francisco is the tree outside my bedroom window. It turns a dark greenish -brown color. When it turns a light greenish-brown I know it's summer.


  6. So beautiful, Friko. You paint with nature.
    VSW was a fascinating lady. Her son Nigel Nicholson's book about his parents' marriage had quite an effect on me when it came out.

    Aloha, Friend!

    Comfort Spiral

  7. Hi Friko

    what a beautiful autumn garden you have...thanks for a taste of seasonal change...

    Happy days

  8. Gorgeous photos Friko. Thanks for the advise about strawberries. We have made a new raised strawberry bed [raised so we dont get the extra flavour that our little boy doggy adds :-) ] and I was gonna look up today when we should plant it so you have saved me the bother. A x

  9. You're quite right. This year's autumn has really caused a colourful explosion. And it started earlier, too. At least in my neck of the woods. Many thanks for the poem, too.

    Greetings from London.

  10. The benefits of the dry weather are all around us, the colours are just amazing, even my Swiss Chard is looking redder than usual long may it continue we all feel more cheerful with such beauty to see.
    Love the photographs,

  11. Beautiful post and lovely shots !! The colors arae looking awesome !! Great..Unseen Rajasthan

  12. Lovely photos - my favourite season for colour I think. Oh and remind me not to eat Wipso's strawberries until that raised bed is sorted!!!

  13. Thank you for posting such beautiful Fall photos. The foliage is stunning. Photos are the only way I can see the beautiful red and gold leaves because you have to go up in the mountains here to see the leaves turning.

    About the only change in my yard is the Forsythia stops blooming and needs to be trimmed back.

  14. Linda - thank you for visiting and thank you very much for your appreciation of my garden.

    Margaret -- thank you too, yes, it does look a bit like a watercolour painting. nature does it so much better than I could.

    Bonnie - thank you for your comment. i had a look at your pictures, you don't need words!

    QMM - is it too early where you are? we have already had frost here.

    Amanda - thanks for visiting. there are people who would envy you your permanently mellow climate.

    Cloudia - I read the book too; I found it fascinating. Sissinghurst is a wonderful garden, everybody should be able to see it.

    Delwyn - thank you, we all have different wonders on our doorstep.

    Wipso - glad I could be of service, Wipso.

    A Cuban in London - a fantastic autumn all over the UK, I think.

    Blossomcotttage - thanks for the visit. Aren't we lucky this autumn after the dreadful summer.

    Unseen Rajasthan - thank you for the compliment, great praise indeed!

    Twiglet - you wouldn't dare!

    Darlene - My forsythia only blooms late winter and very early spring. It's a wonderfully strange world we live in.

  15. Beautiful colors in all the photos!! We do have such a strange summer and autumn here I don't see the usual pretty colors. It thinks it is winter here.

  16. Took me a deep breath, and dived right in.
    Thank you once again for providing a colourful night. May you have a weekend just as nice.

    Word ver.: oxine, guess time to take more breath ;)

  17. The Euphorbias are lovely - and what a great name.

    No such thing as autumn color happens here in Florida. Autumn is the season transplanted northerners like me seem to miss the most.

  18. Hello, Friko. What an absolute treat. The autumnal colors are just so earthy and satisfying. Such lovely pictures.

  19. What sumptuous images! I wish I knew even the first thing about gardening, but every plant I have ever had has died, despite my best efforts to keep them alive. Glad somebody has the knack for it - and many thanks for the kind comments on my Monday poem.

  20. I love the poem, Friko. And one of my favourite things about Autumn is the kind of ivy that grows up buildings and goes a fierce red. I don't know whether it's a special kind of ivy, but I've always found it so dramatic, like a nascent fire crawling up the bricks.

  21. Autumn is my favorite season because of all the wonderful colors. Here most trees are still quite green, it was in the 80s yesterday and 70s today. Your garden is what I envision as an “English” garden with various and intriguing plants and pretty flowers. Here we have pine trees and weeds but I do have a nice variety of weeds and a lot of ivy.

  22. Superb colours for sure. We have a large pot of spiraea which is more spectacular just now than it has ever been. Lovely post.

  23. Lucy - how sad for you

    robert - thank you for your kind wishes

    Mark Kerstetter - Again ow sad for you

    Prosper - thank you very much

    Argent - thanks and you are welcome

    Fran Hill - I don't think you mean ivy, I think you might be referring to Virginia Creeper, that turns red

    Vagabonde - Well, enjoy your weeds then, all nature has something to offer

    Dave King - Thank Dave, spiraeas are lovely all year round.

  24. Wonderful photos Friko. I am loving autumn this year, normally being a spring person. I too love euphorbias and have loads and adore cyclamen and am hanging onto a couple. Surely they will settle in!

  25. Liebe Friko,

    was für wundervolle, ausdrucksstarke Gartenbilder. Ein wahrer Farbrausch Dein schönes Reich, besonders die bodendeckenden Alpenveilchen haben es mir angetan, aber auch die traumhafte Herbstfärbung Deines Kirschbaums ist unglaublich schön anzusehen.

    Dieser Herbst verwöhnt uns Gärtner wahrlich!

    liebe Grüße

  26. elizabethm - thank you, this autumn is so great one should be a poet instead of a gardener

    veredit - dank sehr für die freundlichen Worte. Dieses Jahr ist es wirklich nicht schwer, im Garten Kunstwerke zu schaffen.
    Gruss aus Shropshire

    (Ich vermute, dass dir ein Friko bekannt ist? Mein Vater hat mich so genannt, da soll der Name auch hier gut sein.)

  27. Beautiful! We haven't had frost here yet, just grey skies and drizzle. A lot of the neighbouring trees are only just starting to change colour but I've noticed that some leaves are falling although they're still green. What's going on there? Never mind, I enjoyed the tour of your lovely garden.

  28. Wonderful colours. I'm enjoying this autumn very much - almost as excited by the oranges and reds as I am by spring's fresh greens.

    No frost here yet but we have had some bright clear nights where the temperature has hovered just above zero.

    And when will it rain?


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