Monday, October 13, 2008

Diary October 2005 - Autumn

October 2005

I love spring. I love summer. I love autumn. (I could do without winter, but oh well, can’t have everything).
I find autumn to be a very exciting season. As much as I like being warm in the spring and hot in the summer, I relish that fresh, crisp chill of an autumn morning or evening.
As I walk through my present garden, I see great combinations that I would surely repeat in my ‘perfect’ garden:
(a) Behind a boulder stands Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ – plush, full, and 5 feet tall (without the plumes!) In front of it is an annual fountain grass (Pennisetum) and my sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, which just turned pink and is full of bees.
(b) In the backyard, some black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’) are either still in bloom or their heads have already turned into little black knobs.
(c) Beside the mugho pine and within a sea of periwinkle, my autumn-flowering bulbs – Colchicum ‘Lilac Wonder’ – are starting to open. They will stand 6-8” tall with delicate pinky mauve flower.
(d) The grey-purple kale and dark burgundy chrysanthemums look wonderful beside the bright red burning bush (Euonymus alata)
(e) The elongated flower cones of my beloved oakleaf hydrangea have already turned from white to pink to brown. I now eagerly await the leaves to start turning a bronzy orange and deep maroon.
Years ago I bought gardening columnist Allen Lacey’s book The Garden in Autumn.
“Autumn is a time of sweet disorder and permissible procrastination” writes Lacey, in the first chapter, while later he says: “I was suddenly struck by the accumulated evidence in my own garden that autumn could be the very best of seasons.”
Lacey gives many examples of great plants and combinations that often ‘come into their own’ in September and October. Some of his favourites include:
(a) Boltonia asteroides ‘Snowbank’, tall white, daisy-like flowers that he shows spilling over a white picket fence (p.10)
(b) Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) with annual Centranthus’ pink bachelor-button type flowers, pale pink Anemone ‘September Charm’, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and the variegated leaves of Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’. (p.24-5)
I love how he writes: “The autumn perennial border tends, in particular, toward tapestry, as the red stems of the tall seaside goldenrod lean into the more upright stems of the even taller tatar Aster. The autumn garden becomes, to be honest, a little tatty around the edges. Slugs have long since had their way with the hostas and leaf-miners with most of the aquilegia. Boltonia ‘Snowbank’ and Aster ‘Hella Lacy’ refuse to sing a duet; the Boltonia has put in its final note when the aster begins to sing.”
But I digress….
More combos:
(c) Pale mauve Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ beside bright yellow Coreopsis ‘Zagreb’.(p.40)
(d) Hosta sieboldiana, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ all in front of a bright orangy-red Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)(p.55)
(e) Viola ‘Blue Elf’, Ajuga ‘Burgundy Glow’, Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ and Japanese painted ferns.(p.74)
(f) Viola ‘Molly Sanderson’ (almost black in colour) amid a golden sheet of Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’).
(g) Clematis tangutica, with its multitude of little yellow nodding blossoms, Clematis ‘Lady Betty Balfour’ a large flowered purple hybrid with reddish overtones (looks beautiful when draped over a Quince bush (Chaenomeles japonica)(p.96-7)
(h) Bronzy-orange Hellenium ‘Moorheim Beauty’ with pale lime-green Artemesia lactiflora and the silvery purple cone-heads of Echinops.(p.109)
Some shrubs really shine in the fall: Japanese maple, Ilex decidua and Ilex verticilata (Hollies), Aronia or chokeberry, viburnums (especially ‘Mariesii’ and opulus) and Asian Dogwood (Cornus kousa).

I try to enjoy every minute of autumn, because just like the other seasons, it’s gone in a flash!

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