Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A Year in the Life of a Lady Gardener - October



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.

A.E. Housman 


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.




43 comments:

  1. Some nice photos! October is indeed a beautiful month. The only problem with October (in my humble opinion) is that there's nothing to look forward to except the long dreary days of November and beyond. But . . . we're planting some blubs this weekend, in the faith that spring will come eventually to the patient and the long-suffering.

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  2. absolutely love the orange color...so vibrant and deep as well....i think you have a lovely garden, even for the month of october...

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  3. I think, this year perhaps more than most and because of the terrible summer, autumn has been fighting against the odds. The colours are really beautiful and vibrant - but saying that - I've lit the Rayburn again and toasting my toes, with a good book in tow is a very tempting alternative to freezing cold and muddy wellies.

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  4. Your garden looks amazing - as always! Thanks for the colourful tour.

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  5. The warmth & glow radiating from that spectacular spirea is what October is all about! Our reds were also brilliant this Fall but have gone overnight leaving the golds to stand on their own statement What I noticed this year is the incrediblly intense blue of the sky - day after day. We actually covet some of your overly abundent rain.
    Three splurges for my own garden recently - a Burning Bush & 2 Coral Sunset peonies (bare roots - it will be a few years of anxious waiting)

    Enjoyed your post so much

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  6. Frico, you don't have to go to see the nearest Botanical garden,your own garden is as Botanical garden too! The dogwood with its yellow-lemon leaves is amazing, the last picture is great, the red-green colors in combination with grey and blue murk.

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  7. wat is de herfst toch mooi wat een kleur wat een belevenis,heerlijk om te wandelen.

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  8. Most trees and plants don't start changing here until the third or forth week in October, so we are not enjoying the beauty of fall yet. It was lovely to see it happening in your beautiful pictures.

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  9. Lovely, vibrant colors! Fall is my favorite time of year and these delighted me to no end! :)

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  10. Lovely dogwood !
    Lazy as always , I've embraced the sogginess of October this year and , book in hand , am staying firmly indoors . Though a garden like yours might tempt me as far as the window .

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  11. Fantastic garden, wonderful colors.

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  12. Your garden is lovely in autumn and I can see that you would enjoy it very much if the weather were a little more friendly, although I do have to say that I like the moody atmosphere of the mist. That last photo shows one heck of a nice view and you are very fortunate to have it. It almost looks Italian except for the weather. Did I understand it right and did you pick your plants especially for how their foliage looked in the fall? I must say that I had never given it that much thought before but it is something to take into account if you want to enjoy your garden for a long time. xox

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  13. Such beauty! Thank you for sharing these with us, Friko.

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  14. That is a wonderful feast for the eyes Friko - just what I need on this chilly, damp, misty morning as I sit by the fire. We have so little autumn colour here.

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  15. I'm so glad you ventured into your garden. What rich colours fill the landscape. We've had a golden October thus far, but this morning dawned misty and cool. Much needed rain is forecast for the weekend. By next week we'll be complaining about the damp.
    What book are you reading?

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  16. Your garden is a delight in all seasons. Well planned, well tended, well loved.

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  17. Your garden is full of rewards for all your hard work. I have been lazy this fall and really must plan to put my garden to be next week.

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  18. Your fall garden is dazzling. I also grow red twig dogwoods. They can take the snow load and weather abuse of high altitude. I don't grow spirea but must look them up to see if there is an extremely hardy variety. Sometimes I like the leaves of plants as much as the flowers. Today, I was such a slug - did not venture out into the gusty wind.

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  19. Your writing is a joy to read. My own zest for gardening has passed the point of flagging and has been put to bed for the year. I love fall, but it's a cold gloomy one this year. I'm spending more time looking out at it.

    Your garden is still beautiful.

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  20. All beautiful pics. I think the spirea is my favourite. I agree with you about not wanting to venture out to garden yet - the weather conditions have not been enticing.

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  21. Bilder wie gemalt ! Vielen Dank für diese Freude. In unserem Garten werden Orangen und Zitronen langsam reif.

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  22. Housman speaks to me...and so do your photographs.

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  23. Beautiful, beautiful. And yes, so right, how quickly everything changes this time of year. I had the thought to take some photos here this past weekend, as the color is coming up on the hills, but the weather was dull, so, while we went out, the camera stayed behind. Ah,know it well, too: where did we put those books we purport to be reading that serve as our excuse for not going out in the chill air? Still, we have had runner beans picked from the garden and lots of kale. And fine squash from the farmer's market, too. It won't be long, now, before the frost takes it all away.

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  24. The lady gardener has nothing for which to apologize. Such lovely colors and especially those ravishing pink leaves of the red-stemmed dogwood.

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  25. your photos are a color treatment!



    Aloha from Waikiki,

    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

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  26. Beautiful! Ours are just starting to turn. The spouse dismantled the vegetable garden last weekend and we've got a pile of pumpkins awaiting my attention. I hope your comfortable chair has a view of your garden so you don't miss the display.

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  27. Autumn and spring are my favourite seasons, Friko, but I've been sick for a few weeks and haven't gone outside to record our fall colour. Yours more than makes up for it, however. Your garden is beautiful.
    I read your previous post tonight also. We have someone who comes to help with the housework every second week, and I try to muddle through in between, but a part of me still thinks I ought to be able to do it myself. I enjoyed the photos of your kitchen, and of the men repairing the water damage.
    K

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  28. You have a magnificent garden. I never think about adding any particular plant for its fall color. We don't get our cold nights til after the leaves have fallen.

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  29. Hi Friko .. those photos are stunning and I loved reading about the Spindle tree. Some of the photos look as though you've shone spotlights across the garden - they glow .. while your words evoke those misty days, with their rusts, carmines, oranges .. gorgeous ... I know where to come, when I'm in a position to garden again ... I can reference the year here ... Cheers Hilary

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  30. Gorgeous photos, dear Friko! Such a rich, kaleidoscopic garden it must be at this time of the year. And whoever knew the red-stemmed dogwood could be such an autumn hottie!
    Thank you for sharing all that lovely colour for one who barely finds them here.

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  31. I love the pictures so much. I think it's perfectly fine to enjoy your garden from your window. I especially love the one with the church tower in the mist. Thank you, Friko.

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  32. Well Friko, it seems that your feeling of gardening lethargy has provided us with the great pleasure of seeing truly beautiful colors, harmonies, textures, light...lovely!

    Thank you so much for giving me this morning gift from across the Atlantic. When you walk about this beautiful garden in differing seasons, do you carry music in your head? I would imagine that that you might do.

    As I read the Houseman words about the possible return to certain hills, I was already saying to myself the words with which you closed this post.

    xo

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  33. Beautiful pics of the colours of autumn Friko - still the loss of lush green foliage I find sad...an annual reminder of dark days to come...

    Anna :o]

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  34. Your autumn color photos are extremely beautiful. But all too soon the leaves will have fallen and winter will be on its way.
    I hope you have a pleasant weekend.
    Greetings,
    Heidi

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  35. Oh! That last photo! It is Sleeping Beauty's castle!

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  36. This week's mist and murk have highlighted the gorgeous autumn colours as your photos so beautifully illustrate. Hope you're enjoying today's sunshine, now the wind has cleared the mist away.

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  37. Such a vibrant post! Your garden is putting on quite a show, isn't it? I love Autumn!

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  38. Dear Friko, too bad Housman is long gone. If his "ghost" were to visit your garden he was toss off his melancholia and probably do a dance of the hills! Peace.

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  39. How very beautiful is your autumn. Ours has been lovely, too. Oh, I do love this season, but I fear it is all too short!

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  40. So very picturesque... yes, even with the mist.

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