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