I must admit that you have been lured here under wholly false pretences this time. I am suffering from an extreme bout of lethargy, all my gardening energy has evaporated. It might be due to the fact that October so far has had few 'golden' days, which would irresistibly draw me to leave my comfortable chair, put on wellies and warm fleece jacket and get working outside. All I have done is to go out with my camera and record the incredible display of autumn colour; I don't think shrubs and trees have ever been as spectacularly brilliantly hued as this year. The overly wet summer might have had something to do with it, as well as the fact that we have had a few rather chilly nights.
The above picture of the ornamental cherry was taken in very feeble light, the sun totally obscured by a persistent mist, and yet, the tree itself appeared like a beacon of deep carmine.
Waiting to chronicle October in the garden until my zest for gardening returns is not an option, I think; the leaves are falling steadily if silently, and there might be none left to show you in two weeks' time. The golden leaves of the dogwood in the foreground of the photo are rapidly turning orange. This small shrub is a gem, lemon yellow in high season, turning to orange in autumn. The spindle tree in the background is at its best too, glowing with a leaf life soon to be extinguished. But there are compensations: the spindle will have gorgeous little red berries soon, which burst open in early spring to reveal pinky-white blossom. The wood of some species was traditionally used for making spindles for spinning wool; hence its English name. The euonymous europaeus (this spindle tree's botanical name) is the perfect tree for the small garden.
And how about this red-stemmed dogwood! The mist accentuates the colours magnificently. It is as if the surrounding greyness provides plants with the perfect impetus to do their very best, almost as if to say "you can't dampen my spirit, no matter how desperately hard you try". I love my European dogwoods, they don't flower like the American varieties, but they are very attractive in autumn and winter and form a lovely, dark green background for more showy plants in summer.
Here it is the spireas which dominate the colour palette. From green via deep yellow to orange. Who said 'hot' colours in the garden are tasteless! There is an amazing variety of spireas, over 80 different kinds. I grow most of mine for their attractive foliage. Some are very bright in spring and others don't show their true mettle until autumn. There is also a variety which has silver-edged leaves all year round. Most people grow the gold-leaved variety (japonica 'Gold Flame') which bears purple disk-like flowers in spring and early summer. Another favourite is Spirea Arguta, which is covered in white blossom in early spring. All are worth having. They are good work horses in anybody's garden, small or large and very easy to cultivate.
Fine, let's cool it down a bit. White is the discerning and sophisticted lady gardener's colour of choice; white and green are the height of good taste, apparently. Japanese anemonies are among the few 'new' herbaceous flowers this late in the season, they and the various kinds of michaelmas daisies and chrysanthemums. My mick daisies aren't flowering yet and I don't currently grow any chrysanthemums. Perhaps this splendid white hydrangea would be allowed to make up for it.
The mist has lifted enough to allow the church tower to become visible but the blue remembered hills are still hidden in the murk. I am staying indoors. Where did I put the book I was reading?
Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
Contrary to the rather melancholy Housman I can come again; to appreciate my view of the Shropshire Hills again all I need is a bit of bright daylight.