An Instagram retrospective of October 2017
October has been mild and mainly dry in Kent, many trees still in leaf at the end of the month and no sign of a frost with sufficient bite to blacken the stems of the dahlias, which have flowered right through. There’s even some colour left in the borders, with salvias performing particularly well, and annuals like cosmos continuing to bloom with gusto. How long can it last?
This is a time of year when, as the flowers begin to fade, you really start to appreciate texture in the garden.
Couldn't resist this combination when it came together in the back of the car after an impromptu garden centre trip, and several years after planting it I still love it. Artemisia 'Powys Castle' (left) and Carex buchananii. The carex isn't for neat freaks, but the texture is wonderful. And you're never quite sure if it's dead or not, till it flowers. 👍🏼🎃👻#iphoneography #tostandandstare #fb #gothictonic
Of course, it’s also the beginning of a period of several weeks when most gardeners are distracted from caring for their plants by the annual job of leaf clearing. I pretend to consider it a chore, but I don’t think anyone’s fooled into thinking I find it anything other than great fun.
There comes a point when you haven't quite finished doing what you need to do in the beds and borders, but have to stop for a while just to shepherd leaves about. Oi, leaves! I'm not quite ready for you yet! Sheesh… 🍂🍂🍁🍂#impressionsofautumn #thisautumnlife #whpseasons 🍁🎃#mystoryoflight #iphoneography #tostandandstare #fb
And all the while, the dahlias continued to flower...
How long do we have before the first frosts arrive and turn all our dahlias to blackened mush? Several weeks, I hope. Here's 'Otto's Thrill', snapped on a dull day at Wisley over the weekend. It's another great dinner plate dahlia that has the @the_rhs Award of Garden Merit (which means it's easy to grow and reliable), shorter than 'Penhill Watermelon' further down my grid at just over 1m. I've added it to my list for next year, how about you? 🌸💕#mystoryoflight #olympusuk #peninpractice #tostandandstare #fb #thepinkstagram
...while grasses and the seedheads of tall perennials like eupatorium began to assert their dominance in the borders...
I've been enjoying watching eupatorium fade into its autumn garb these last few weeks. It's a bit like a giant aster (a near relative) on steroids. There's a point before everything goes brown where the pale yellows and greens of the foliage make a perfect foil for its own biscuit-coloured seed heads, and those of any tall grasses nearby. (There should always be tall grasses nearby). The subtler side of autumn. 🍁🍂 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #thisautumnlife #impressionsofautumn #fb
...and I, for one, have been enjoying the biscuity tones of early autumn.
Slightly worried I may be about to lose many of you, but I'm really enjoying the biscuity tones of autumn at the moment. I feel my grid might be about to go Full Beige. Here in this breezy shot, seedheads of eupatorium and miscanthus mingle and, as ever, it's reminding me of food. Crumble topping to be precise. Been promising myself one for days, must get crumbling. So, good for you if you're still here. Go Team Beige, and pass the custard! 🍁🍂#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #thisautumnlife #impressionsofautumn
Changeable weather made for some dramatic sky and golden light combinations, providing ideal conditions for garden photography.
A gap in the clouds allows the sun to spotlight the centre of the Peacock Garden at Great Dixter. The yew topiary has been tidied up, and the low pink-white "hedge" of asters (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum 'Chloe') is in flower. It's a magical spot in a dreamlike garden. ☁️☀️☁️✨💚#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #fb
I love this time of year. Golden sun, tanned seedheads, frothy flowers in the beds. And teasels which, even if they weren't already a marvellously architectural form, have a splendid Latin name which is fun to shout loudly. "DIPSACUS!!" Go on, try it. 🍁🍂☀️#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #fb #thisautumnlife #impressionsofautumn
...but even when the light was less than dramatic, there was enough contrast in the neutral colours of the prairie planting at Wisley to provide some interesting shots.
📸1/2. No wonderful golden hour light at Wisley as the sun rose on Saturday – more Blue Steel than Gold. Every so often @the_rhs open their gardens early so photographers can catch the morning light. I'd not been before, and found it quite challenging trying to capture a pleasing image in the half light, especially when the conditions you hope for don't transpire. So the lesson is, even when you're hoping for Spandau Ballet 🥇, but wind up with Derek Zoolander 🌫, there's probably still a shot you can get. Just not the one you were hoping for. 📸 The long, low glasshouse over the lake didn't suit a square image format, so I've split the frame over two Instagram squares! Have a look at my grid for the full shot. 🍁🍂#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #thisautumnlife #impressionsofautumn #fb
There’s still colour in the border, though for how much longer, who can tell?
By next week, I think we might have entered the season of mush in the borders. For now, there's just enough flower left, thanks to the cosmos and verbena and perovskia, to give some splashes of colour with the sparkle. Plenty of sparkle to come in autumn and winter, and colour from sturdy berries and hips, but summer's colour has had its last hurrah. 💜✨#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #thisautumnlife #impressionsofautumn #fb
And the dahlias continued on...
This cheerful #dahlia should be 'Selina'. Seems that, by one of those quirks of the planty world, we have Selina's slightly less glamorous sibling. The petals are the right shade of pinky red, glinting silver on the backs, and do that lovely inward curling thing, but there aren't nearly enough of them. Never mind. We're glad to have her in the garden. (TBH, Selina's a bit of a diva anyway). 🌸💕#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #thisautumnlife #impressionsofautumn #fb
...while I took full advantage both of them, and the leaves.
If the seasons dictate that I'm going to be playing with leaves for the next few weeks, then I'm really going to play with leaves! Here are some, from two kinds of acer, a tulip tree, oak-leaved hydrangea and a purple smoke bush. All being kept in check by Dahlia 'Eveline'. 🍁🍂 #leafplay 🍂🍁 #iphoneography #tostandandstare #thisautumnlife #impressionsofautumn #fb #hyggelife #myflatlaysandfinds
The light, of course, takes full advantage of the absence of chlorophyll in the autumnal foliage, and spends these months showing off by creating incendiary spectacles from any leaf sufficiently obliging to present its face to the sun’s rays.
There's a new dog in my Friday garden. Actually an old dog - well, let's say middle aged – a beautiful black lab recently retired from service as a bomb disposal dog in Afghanistan. You'd expect him to be terribly sensible with that history, but he likes nothing better than launching himself from this spot into the pond, which he does with great glee several times in a row, before shaking himself dry over anyone in the vicinity, while laughing. Anyway, he's not in this picture. Does he pause for a moment to admire the flame-red hues of the sumac tree before launching himself from the deck? Of course not. He's a dog. 🍁🍂 #mystoryoflight #iphoneography #tostandandstare #thisautumnlife #impressionsofautumn #fb
How can anyone not love this time of year when, even on a dull day, the autumn leaves seem to punch a hole through from this world to the next, a place filled with golden light. ✨✨In much the same way, I suppose, as Will's knife did in the last volume of Phillip Pullman's original HDM trilogy. Faffing at the moment over whether to get his latest in paper form or on audio – probably both in the end. Anyone started with #TheBookofDust yet? 🍁🍂✨#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #thisautumnlife #impressionsofautumn
But, as befits the all Hallows’ eve, we ended the month in gloom, with the garden taking on quite a different tone.
I'd like to tell you that I've painstakingly sought out the creepiest garden possible for you this Hallowe'en, all gruesome spikes and fangs, weird looking albino flowers and leathery bat-wing leaves. 🦇 I'd like to say that, but I can't. This is just what this corner of my garden looks like at this time of year, the white flowers and tropical palmate leaves on the fatsia, the yellow flowers and cruel spikey foliage of the mahonia (a real bugger at close quarters as I know from experience). Now, for something truly nightmarish, maybe I should show you the state of my veg beds right now… 💀🕸🕷🎃#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #thisautumnlife #impressionsofautumn #fb
I’d love to know how October was in your garden. Let me know on twitter, or in the comments below.