Shades of Autumn

Today has been one of those rather frustrating days in the garden.  One minute the sun is shining and you get all enthusiastic about planting a few more of those tulips you couldn’t resist only to find that as soon as you get out there the heavens open.

In those moments when the shine is shining however the autumn colours really sing.  Across the countryside here in Warwickshire the leaves seem to have remained on the trees this year and the colours are really lovely.

Here is a selection of the autumn colours we are enjoying in the garden at the moment.


One:  The walk up the ‘old’ rose garden contrasts the changing red shades of the purple leaved Cotinus coggygria, Prunus and Viburnum with the yellow of the hornbeam hedge and the distant yellow of the silver birch.

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Two:  This green leaved Smoke Bush at the top of the cutting garden provides a sumptuous autumn display of colour.

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Three:  In the woodland walk these small field maple trees provide a golden glow in the sunshine.

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Four:  Another purple leaved Cotinus this time in the patio bed contrasting with the still green Wisteria and grey leaved Santolina chamaecyparissus.

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Five:  Although a seriously spiky plant when cutting the grass this Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea offers excellent purple foliage all year and is well worth its place in the shrub bed.   At this time of year the foliage develop a range of orange hues.

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Six:  It is of course not just about the leaves at this time of year.  Many of the cotoneaster bushes, sorbus, roses and blackthorn are full of berries and hips. This tall Pyracantha is in its prime at the moment and providing a feast for the birds.

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

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Six on Saturday: The early September flower garden

As we move into September the evenings are drawing in and are already beginning to seem a little cooler although during the day there is still plenty of sunshine and warmth to enjoy.

This new month has seen the beginning of a transition.  Some of the summer perennials, shrubs and roses are beginning to put on a new flush of colour whilst others are now beginning to emerge for the first time giving new form, colour and texture to the garden borders.


One:  Kniphofia ‘Lord Roberts’

This particular Kniphofia comes into flower in early September and brings a dramatic spark to the yellows, blues and purples of the late summer border close to the house.  I am not a fan of all the red-hot poker family but there are some interesting varieties that I feel are worthy garden plants.  ‘Lord Roberts’ is certainly one of these although it does need supporting to stop the large heads flopping forward as they come into full bloom.

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Two:  Gaura  lindheimeri

This group of Gaura plants were something that I successfully grew from seed a few years back.  They are growing in the cut flower garden and have established into large clumps that create a tremendous show for a long period.  They have been in flower now for quite a few weeks but are still going strong in early September.  They add a light, airy movement to the flower garden and sit very well with Verbena hastata ‘Blue spires’.

An excellent plant but certainly one that needs support to avoid it flopping over the grass and potentially getting damaged by the mower as I wizz past.

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Three:  Dahlia

The Dahlias certainly seem to have been late flowering here in the UK Midlands this year and only now at the beginning of September are they beginning to come into full flower.  They are usually one of our main cutting flowers at this time of year.

Choosing just one from the many varieties in the garden is difficult but this picture of the variety ‘Dark Spirit’ has come out rather well I think.  Of the tubers we dug up last winter ‘Dark Spirit’ proved to be the most resilient and survived the long cold winter much better than many of the other varieties.  The Dahlia tubers that survived best were in fact those that were left in the ground and covered with straw.

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Four:  Hydrangea ‘Lime Light’

Despite the hot dry conditions during mid summer, the hydrangeas seem to have performed surprising well and continue to produce large clean flower heads.  This one is ‘Lime Light’ which lives in an area shaded from the midday sun in relatively moist conditions.

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Five:  Abelia

We have a number of different Abelia plants around the garden and they really come into their own at this time of year.  Unfortunately we have lost the name tags on most.

The Abelia in the garden are all small, tidy and very well behaved shrubs.  They take very little looking after and at this time of year are covered in either small pink or white flowers.  The bees just love them.

The picture here shows them partnered with Penstemon ‘Garnet’.

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Six:  Cosmos ‘Lemonade’

The final selection this week is the delicate lemon yellow Cosmos variety ‘Lemonade’.  They are much smaller and more delicate than the full-on show created by the pinks and whites of Cosmos ‘Sensation Mix’ but they are so charming and certainly deserve to be grown and appreciated.

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

Six on Saturday – Climbing Roses

A few weeks ago I had pleasure in illustrating a number of the Rambling Roses that were doing particularly well this year. This time it is the turn of the climbing roses.

In general the climbing roses tend to be less vigorous and are usually more likely to be repeat flowering than the ramblers.

Choosing just six has been difficult but here is my selection for this week.


One: Compassion

Rose 'Compassion'
Rose ‘Compassion’

Two: Constance Spry

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Rose’ Constance Spry’ with Foxglose ‘Elsey Kelsey’ in the foreground

Three: Arthur Bell

Rose 'Arthur Bell'
Rose ‘Arthur Bell’

Four: Madame Alfred Carrière

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Five: Sombreuil

Rose 'Sombreuil' growing alongside Rose 'Constance Spry'
Rose ‘Sombreuil’ (foreground) growing alongside Rose ‘Constance Spry’ in the old rose garden

Six: Mermaid

Rose 'Mermaid'
Rose ‘Mermaid’

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.

Reaching for the sky – creating the rose arches for the new flower garden

Established rose arch in full flower
Existing rose arch of Rose Veilchenblau (mauve) and Rose Seagull (white) intertwined together in the patio garden.

In the new flower garden at Honey Pot Flowers we are keen to introduce much more structure and height than we had previously.  With a bulk load of roses due in November we have been putting in place two new rose arches ready for their arrival.

Each of our arches is going to have a mix of rambling roses which will mingle together.  The two varieties we are using on the arches are Rambling Rosie and Blush Rambler.

Arches, however, are much more than just creating something for the roses and other plants to climb up.  They create a barrier between areas of the garden creating that sense of exploration and romance and can lead the eye through to a focal point in your design.  Importantly they bring your flowers up to eye (and nose) level so they can be appreciated as you wander through your garden.

We have learnt from experience that commercially bought arches are not always up to the job (particularly the metal ones).  A year or two down the line when the roses are lush and heavy with foliage and flower they will need to stand up to the strong winds of the autumn and winter months.

We have built two arches, each 2.4 metres (c.8 feet) high.  This may seem excessive but once grown those wayward branches will hang down and need to be high enough so that you can easily walk through or cut the grass without getting annoyingly scratched.

Materials

If you want to build one similar for yourself you will need the following for each arch.

  • 4x metal wedge grip fence post spikes (75mm x 600mm)
  • 4x treated fence posts (75mm x 75mm x 2.4m)
  • 3x treated beams (47mm x 100mm x 2.4m) (one cut in half to create the side beams)
  • 2x treated trellis panels(1828mm x 610mm)
  • large pack of 4″ wood screws

Method

  1. As the old saying goes ‘measure twice and cut once’!
  2. Bang in the metal fence spikes to their respective positions making sure that they are straight and true with a spirit level.  It is much easier to bang these in straight if you use a rubber block.   Keep the post ‘socket’ above the ground.  I have found that this helps stop the posts from rotting off prematurely.  If you push the ‘socket’ into the ground the wooden fence post sits in the damp soil all the time and rots much more quickly (even if treated).  I have spent so much time over the years trying to remove the concrete blocks of old rotten fence posts that I tend to use metal fence spikes now.  If you want to move them in 15-20 years time you can.
  3. Gently bang the fence posts into the metal spikes.  At this point check that all the post tops are at the same height.  I do this by using one of the long beams and placing it across the posts and checking with a level.  Gently adjust the posts if necessary.  Keeping everything straight and level at this point helps enormously down the line.  It is very difficult to adjust things later if it looks wonky.
  4. It is up to you how ornate you want the ends of the cross beams to be.  I chamfer the corners of each beam to soften the appearance slightly.
  5. Having cut one of the long beams in two, fix these to the side of the arch at the top.  Measure and mark them carefully before offering them up to the posts to make sure they are identical on each side.  The posts will be flexible enough to fit to your marks.  Screw to the posts with the 4″ wood screws (pilot holes help enormously here).  I use 2 screws per post so there is less chance of the arch twisting in the wind and rotating around the screw.  This arch will have to hold a lot of weight in time!
  6. The two long beams go across the front and back of the arch.  I cut a square notch out on each side.  The notch is half the width of the long beam (ie.  c.5 cm) and the width of each notch is the breadth of the side beam (ie. c.4.7 cm).  I do all this measuring and cutting on the ground.  These long beams are then lifted onto the side beams and slide/lock into place with some gentle encouragement from a mallet.  If you have measured carefully everything will shift into place and be straight, true and level. (I appreciate that this is easier said than done!)
  7. Screw the long beams onto the side beams.
  8. Assuming you have measured the distance between your posts correctly the trellis should now slide easily between posts and can be fixed with four screws.  It is easiest to put the screws into the trellis first and drill your pilot holes in the posts before offering the trellis up to the posts to finally fix them securely.
  9. Stand back and admire your work!
Rose arch
New rose arch of treated timber ready for the arrival of our rambling roses this month