October this year is a very confused month, with some plants thinking it is already well into autumn and others believing they are still in mid-summer. And some, judging by the number of berries dripping from the trees must be getting ready to feed the winter migrant birds. Come with me for a wander and you will see what I mean.
In the Freda Garden opposite the front door this beautiful Crocosmia with its flowers in orange with an unusual hint of pink continues to flower profusely. By the front door the pots are filling up with bright orange violas giving a cheerful welcome to visitors.
The leaves of the yellow winter flowering Ribes are turning all shades of pink and red while beneath it the perennial wallflower, Bowles Mauve, continues to flower even though it has barely had a rest all year. The lovely yellow Crocosmia sits comfortably alongside the Cotoneaster which is already heavy with berries.
In pots alongside the wood store sit these two Michaelmas Daisies which we bought from the Picton Garden recently and they still sit in pots waiting for us to find a spot for them. On the left is the variety “Coombe Fishacre” and on the right the species “elegans”.
Down the drive the berries of Cotoneasters and Rowan await the arrival of the winter thrushes but we will enjoy their rich red colouring while we can. Opposite them this beautiful blue Aster looks extra blue with the golden hues of the little grasses alongside.
In the Chatto Garden, which looks good every day of the year, the whispy strands of the Stipa tenuissima move in the slightest of breezes behind the rigid dried heads of Bherkeya and the mauve flowers of Verbena bonariensis
Glaucous leaves of this Euphorbia afford a good background for the seed heads of Amaryllis. Close by another Euphorbia, griffithii “Dixter”, dies to a bright pink in stem and leaf.
The sword-like Iris leaves are similarly glaucous and they enrich the deepest pink of Huskers Red Pentstemon. A beautiful combination!
The white stems of Betula utilis jacqemontii “Silver Queen” glow against the evergreen background afforded by the Red Robin. In the same bed two varieties of deciduous Euonymus are changing into reds and pinks and busy white bell shaped flowers of Arbutus, the Strawberry Tree hang in full bunches. We have never seen so many flowers on our Arbutus before so we are anticipating a profusion of “strawberries” later on.
On the grass giant fungi sit like plates, dining plates for the slugs that feast on them.
Autumn colour is particularly well advanced on the Cercis “Forest Pansy”, Stransvesia and Amelanchier. The strange pink flowers of Lobelia tupa appear in a different place each year as they migrate around the Hot Border.
Moving into the back garden via the shade border we find the contrasting leaf shapes of Inula and ferns.
Arriving in the Rill Garden we can appreciate how the remnant flowers of the Pelargoniums match the berries strung out along the stems of the Cotoneaster.
These Ornithogalum are a new plant for us this year – we are so glad we grew them. It seems an awful long time ago we planted the bulbs in their big terracotta pots. In the border behind them the leaves of the Witch Hazel are colouring up nicely in patterns, the Hypericum berries are now shiny black and the Echinops flowers sit stiffly on rigid stems like silvery blue spheres.
Looking down the central path of the back garden the glowing red fruit of Apple Scrumptious still decorate the arch over the path.
I shall feature a few special favourites and then create a gallery for you to enjoy to illustrate what else is going on in the back garden. Schistostylus are a real late autumn flower but can flower at any time, some responding to the first frosts before they show. We have just bought this pale pink one but have enjoyed the red one for years now.
How about this for a Salvia – you can’t get blue much richer or deeper than this! The Persicaria is P. aucuparia Firetail which produces its poker-like flowers for months through the summer and autumn. Some of the flower heads at the moment are a good 3 inches long and an inch wide.
These two umbrella shaped flower heads are very different in habit. The glowing pink Sedum sits low to the ground on floppy glaucous stems while the Vernonia stands proud aloft tall 4 foot rigid stems.
An archway leading to the pool and Japanese Garden is covered in the red leaves of Vitis purpurea and alongside the pool is this willow. The stems of the Violet Willow are covered in a white bloom from now through to the spring when the winter rains return them to deep violet-black.
Now enjoy a wander around the back garden to see what October has in store for us to appreciate.