Autumn is very much with us. We have been busy harvesting the excess apples in the orchard and having fun making cider to last us most of the year, cutting and chopping the quinces and making quince crumble tarts for the freezer and the neighbours have been busy sawing and chopping wood for the winter fires.
Despite the trees turning we have not yet had a real frost here in Warwickshire and there is still plenty of colour in the garden. In fact some things that have struggled with the heat and lack of water during the summer have burst into flower. The roses have a new flush of fresh flowers and many of the perennials are showing a second flush of bloom.
Here are six things for this week that have particularly caught my eye:
One: Begonia ‘Angelique’
As soon as we get any sign of frost I am sure that these tuberous begonias will curl up and die back but as we come to the end of the season I think they are worth celebrating. Planted out in large patio tubs in the spring they often seem slow to get going but by early August they are in full bloom. These have been blooming consistently ever since and are very low maintenance – they even dead head themselves. I always try and lift the tubers and keep them alive if possible. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail but I will certainly look to keep this variety going and plant them again next year.
Two: Cobaea scandens (cup-and-saucer vine)
Cobaea is not something we have grown before but we wanted something to quickly cover the new rose trellis in this first year whilst the new climbing roses get established. It is certainly one of the fastest growing annuals that I have seen. It has interesting but not spectacular bell shaped flowers and certainly did the job of covering the new bare trellis.
One added benefit at this time of year is that it produces these charming fairy lights hanging from a curvy, kinked stem once the flowers have dropped. You almost feel that you should collect them, dry them and spray them silver for winter decorations.
Three: Hardy Fushia
One of the shrubs that come into their own at this time of year are the hardy fushias. They are so easy to grow and also to propagate. Many of ours have been grown from cuttings that we have been given by friends or relatives.
The first of these is a very delicate white/pink fushia with tiny ballerina flowers. We have moved it around the garden because it did not thrive initially. It is now in the part of the garden we describe as the woodland walk and is in part shade and on a woodland edge. It seems to love it here and produces masses of these tiny white flowers that shine out in the darker semi-shade.
Another hardy fushia taken from a cutting a couple of years ago and grown on in a terracotta pot, was planted out last autumn. It is now establishing well with a couple of Eupatorium plants (also taken from cuttings from a garden in Cornwall – thank you Auntie Wendy!).
Four: Autumn Crocus
I think of spring as the time for crocus around the garden but I am always pleasantly surprised to see the autumn crocus emerge (although we must have planted them at some point). Planted at the foot of some of our mature trees they avoid the mower and emerge as the leaves fall.
The warmer, moister weather in September and early October has really brought on the repeat flowering roses. Many of these are now flowering profusely. Two that are looking particularly good are the apricot variety ‘Simply the Best’ and pink/orange ‘Fragrant Delight’. As the name describes ‘Fragrant Delight’ has a wonderful and powerful perfume that hangs in the evening air at this time of year.
Six: Astrantia (Granny’s pincushion)
Perhaps rather surprisingly the rose/lilac tinted Astrantia is flowering again. This is something we often use in our flower arrangements earlier in the season. It has strong stems and holds very well if conditioned correctly.