So here we are with the tenth post in the “My Garden Journal” monthly series highlighting the changes that we see, hear and smell each month in our Shropshire garden at our home “Avocet”. Our garden open days have finished for the year and we have hosted our last visiting group for the year, so we have the garden to ourselves and our wildlife. From April to September we are open on set days and to visiting groups and although we love sharing our garden there is a feeling of letting go a bit once October arrives a sort of end of term feeling.
We will be busy taking hardwood cuttings and potting on those we struck last autumn. Our greenhouse becomes home to our more delicate plants, our Aeoniums, Salvias, and Echeverias. We put up bubble wrap as a cosy duvet for them and put the heating on gently.
My first page in my journal for October refers to the changing light the month brings.
“Autumn is most definitely with us, its special low light with its own intensity and identity gives the garden its coat of many colours. Sedum give us flowers of pink to purple rising from its succulent leaves.
“October began by continuing September’s Indian Summer. We are enjoying blue skies and warm temperatures. Luxuries for the gardeners, who can use these special moments to sit in the sun, drink tea and drink in the colourful richness in every border.”
My journal moved on to consider the changing colours which is symbolic of this season. The quote I have selected for October from Jenny Joseph also looks at October’s colours.
“The fire that October first brings to me is what has started in September. It is the woods flaming; not terrifying summer fires in some afforested countries, but the fire with no heat, no destruction. The torch that sets fire to our woods, hedges, trees in roads and gardens, blazing through cool damp darkening days is the sap withdrawing. It is a dying that can make us gasp at the intensity and great range of colour.”
In my journal I wrote “All those myriad shades of green that had been acting as foils for the colours of flowers are now coming to the fore. It is their turn to be the stars! As we move into autumn more deeply the green recedes to reveal yellows, oranges and reds. Our Euphorbia griffithii “Fireglow” glows yellow with thin red lines drawn on.”
“We grow two different varieties of Hamamelis x intermedia, Jelena and Diana, mostly for their bright late winter/early spring flowers but in autumn they give us the same orange and red colours.”
On the following pages I discuss the birds that visited our garden during October, the Merlin and the Little Owl. I hope you enjoy looking at my coloured pencil crayon drawing as much as I enjoyed creating them.
“Most of our Summer Migrant birds have left us. Firstly the Swifts and the Cuckoos left us in July and then the Warblers and the sky dancers, Swallows and House Martins.
We have been surprised to spot two birds which until recently would also have flown to warmer climes. Some of our summer visitors now stay with us. Early in October we spotted a male Merlin hunting along the lane from our house, moving and manoevring low to the ground in definite hunting mood.
Recently we heard the call of Little Owls, their piercing sounds were more those of a yapping Terrier than those of an owl.”
“In our “Secret Garden” we grow a miniature Chestnut, Aesculus mutabilis “Induta”. We forgive it for its ugly name as we love it all year. It gives salmon-pink new foliage in the spring which is followed by upright panicles of pinky-salmon flowers loved by the bees. Flowers are followed by little “conkers”, then in autumn the foliage turns the brightest yellow. When the foliage falls beautiful silvery-grey bark shines through the winter.”
“I featured the seed heads of Phlomis and Acer rufinerve in my journal pages for September. As we move through October more plants produce seed heads worthy of starring roles. Echinops, Eremurus, Eryngium and Crocosmia.”
November will take us deeper into the autumn which this year is proving to be an exceptionally colourful one.