Shades of Autumn

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Japanese maple in the Autumn sunshine. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

To be completely honest with you all, this really isn’t my favourite time of year. However, when it’s not raining and when the sun is out, I do spend a lot of time in the garden admiring the glorious colours that this month often has to offer.

The Japanese maple tree above is situated in the corner of my drive-way. It has leaves that seem to glow in the sunshine, and when the leaves mature and fall to the ground, they turn a vivid shade of red as they dry out.

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Fallen maple leaves. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

There is more red to be seen elsewhere in the garden. The Cotoneaster is crammed full of berries this year. Standing in front of this hardy specimen is a more delicate Fuschia bush with pink and purple petals that clash spectacularly with the scarlet berries behind.

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Pink Fuschia and berry-laden Cotoneaster. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Another crop of Autumn crocus has sprung up in one of the flowerbeds. A later variety, these beauties are Crocus Sativus or the saffron-crocus. When the sun hits the golden stamens, the spicy aroma is quite mouth-watering.

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Crocus Sativus. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s been a good year for Hydrangeas; they have been in bloom for many weeks. I love the way that the blooms fade gradually and gracefully as the days draw in, and develop a “vintage” appearance.

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Fading glory. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

A few plants are now on their second blooming of the year. This solitary Leucanthemum flower stem is the only one that has developed on the plant second time around. It does look a bit lonely. The variety is Bananas and Cream which is a great name for any plant in my opinion.

Have a good few days and enjoy the Autumn colours if you’re out and about 🙂

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Bananas and Cream for one. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Early December in the garden

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Blue-sky December day. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

As I sat down to write this post last night, we were awaiting the arrival of the first major storm of the season. Nothing has materialised overnight, but it is suddenly feeling much colder. There is a thick frost this morning, and it is bright and clear again, the wind has dropped, and all is calm.

On the whole, the first few days of the month have been quite kind to the gardeners amongst us here in central Scotland. Whilst the east coast did have more seasonal weather, we were blessed with several blue sky days, milder temperatures, and some glorious sun rises.

To be honest, I haven’t been outside much recently – work has kept me inside. The garden is looking a bit tired now, and ready for a rest. I cleared a lot of the autumn debris a couple of weeks ago and it’s beginning to look a bit bare in places. However, the evergreens provide shape and colour and look very vibrant on a fine day, and the Cotoneaster hedge is laden with berries, as it is every year.

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Berry-laden Cotoneaster hedge. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The best value plants in the garden this year have been the carnations I planted last year – taken as cuttings from a birthday bouquet. They began flowering in August, and are still producing blooms at the moment. I’m sure the winter weather will get to them eventually, but the south-facing wall seems to be providing them with sufficient shelter to have kept them going this far into the year.

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Carnations enjoying the winter sunshine. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Elsewhere in the garden, the colours have faded. The Hydrangeas have taken on a beautiful “vintage” look, and the blooms of Echinops and white Japanese Anemones have left behind interesting seed-heads which are slowly weathering away.

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Faded beauty: Blue Hydrangea. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Globe thistle and Japanese Anemone seed heads. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The last of my garden features this month is this wee fellow, a perennial primrose. Just one solitary bloom at the moment, hidden away in a sheltered, damp part of the garden. A small flash of pale yellow which acts to remind me that spring will be here again in just a few weeks. Have a good week 🙂

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Perennial primrose. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

 

Late September colours

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Looking down the driveway from my office window I can see the wonderful shades of an Acer tree. As the seasons change the foliage turns from bright, lush green in spring, to more coppery tones in summer and now, the leaves are shades of rich red and brown.

There is still a lot of green in the garden, but now that the pinks and blues of the summer borders have faded, it is the time of year when the reds flowers and shrubs really stand out.

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Antirrhinum. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The fine specimen above was planted last year and has been producing flower stems for several weeks. It’s still going strong, adding a splash of colour to a flower-bed which was alive and vibrant with lupins a few weeks ago. The Antirrhinum is a nostalgic plant for me; we had them growing in most of my family gardens as I grew up. I used to think that the flower heads looked like little faces staring up at me from the borders.

The Fuchsia bushes have also been in flower for a while. This dainty variety grows in front of a magnificent Cotoneaster horizontalis, which is splayed out against a wall. Together the two plants look very bright and bold, one in front of the other. The Cotoneaster is laden with berries which tend to stay in place throughout the winter – for some reason the birds aren’t that interested in them.

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The ballerina-like petals of a Fuchsia. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Cotoneaster horizontalis. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Another later flowering plant in the garden is Lyceteria, more familiarly known as Pheasant Berry. Occasionally there has been a pheasant in the garden but I have yet to see one anywhere near this bush. The unusual flowers last a long time, and look like a succession of dark red lampshades hanging from a thin red cord.

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Lyceteria Formosa (Pheasant Berry). Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Apart from the flowers and foliage, there is also red colour from late ripening fruit. The Autumn raspberries are not as prolific as the earlier variety I grow, but it is lovely to be picking berries at this time of year. The last of my blueberry bushes is in fruit, but it is the leaves and stems that offer so much at the moment; on a dull day, the vivid red is a sight to behold. The little red apples were picked just after I took the image. Just five small fruit on a miniature tree, but crisp, sweet and delicious with every bite.

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Autumn raspberries, blueberries and miniature eating apples. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

To finish my red-themed post this week, while I was taking these pictures, I came across two aptly named butterflies having a bit of a stand-off on the white Hydrangea bush. One clapped its wings together as soon as I got the camera out and couldn’t be tempted to open them again. The other fellow was more obliging and sat there for quite a while as I clicked away. It wasn’t until later on that I realised the poor thing only had one antennae. Until next time, enjoy the Autumn shades 🙂

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Red Admiral butterflies. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

My garden in December

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Early Winter sunrise over a Scottish garden. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s been a busy month of work for me. I haven’t been around at home for more than a few days at a time, so subsequently, I haven’t had any gardening opportunities.

We haven’t had any snow yet in this part of Scotland, but there have been a couple of very heavy frosts which put pay to most of the flowering shrubs in the garden – I took this picture a few days ago when the temperature had dropped well below zero overnight, the ice beautiful patterns are on the inside of the window!

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Icy window. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Today, I have been able to get outside for a couple of hours – hoorah! There is lot as of clearing up to do after the frosts: plenty of bedraggled shrubs with drooping leaves which make the garden look very sad and now need cutting back. The weather forecasters are saying that we are due some milder weather this coming week, so I should get some out-of-doors tidying up done.

I was happy to see that there is still some colour, here and there, in the more sheltered parts of the garden. A shrub that grows well in several places in the garden is Cotoneaster horizontalis, but usually by now the berries have dropped off or have been eaten by the birds. This one is still covered with fruit and gives a welcome blaze of colour growing up against a small outbuilding wall.

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Cotoneaster horizontalis. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

By next month, the sprawling Winter Jasmine, which grows outside the back door, will be in full bloom. Today there are a few buds breaking open to reveal the cheery yellow blooms I love. It is one of my favourite plants of the season, so delicate and pretty.

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Winter Jasmine flower and bud. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Another favourite is the Snowberry. I see them each Winter growing in other people’s gardens and in the hedgerows, but never get round to planting one for myself. This year, a few straggly branches have appeared growing through an old Camellia bush in the back garden. I will take care now I know it’s there, and see if I can get a better crop next year.

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Snowberries. Image by Kathryn Hawkins

I like to end my monthly garden report with something quirky and unseasonal. I found this wee fellow growing at the top of the rockery, under a big conifer tree, in the back garden. Not sure how he’s managed to remain unscathed from the effects of the frosts, but he was looking very healthy and strong, and truly magnificent in bright blue bloom.

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Solitary Periwinkle in bloom in early December. Image: Kathryn Hawkins