A change in the wind


Last Saturday I knew that our idyllic autumn weather was coming to an end. The weather forecasters were predicting the retreat of the high pressure allowing the intrusion of  Atlantic weather systems. Rain and strong winds were on the way. So it was time to remove the tender perennials, the scented-leaf pelargoniums, salvias, hyssop and convolvulus, into the polytunnel for the winter.

It is always a dilemma whether to cut down the herbaceous borders or leave the foliage and tidy up later. Usually the decision is taken out of my hands as the autumn gales always arrive more rapidly than anticipated. This is feeble reasoning, I know that in most years if the autumn gales haven’t started by early September they will be on the way very soon. I’m always reluctant to cut down plants which are still in flower and are providing food for the insects. With such a short growing season, I, like the bees, want to enjoy every the flowers for as long as possible.

With the garden continuing to delight until mid-October, there was a rare opportunity to photograph the flowers at the end of the season. The blooms may be a little faded and ragged but there is beauty in the imperfection of ageing. As the days shorten and the warmth of the sun fades the contrast between light and shade is heightened. As the petals fall there are the sculptures of seed heads to enjoy, from the delicate airy heads of fennel to the smooth contours of capsules and pods and the contorted heads of the calendulas. As the season draws to a close the garden becomes less harmonious as shape and texture begin to dominate and with the strong colours of the horned poppies (Glaucium flavum) and calendulas adding discordant elements.

21 thoughts on “A change in the wind

  1. I was visualising Mary Poppins appearing (or disappearing?) with the change in the wind…
    Seriously, it must indeed be a dilemma for you, particularly with some of the late beauties you have shown here – and photographed in sunshine too! My Mum says it has been a dismal day for her today so I think the Atlantic weather systems have already intruded there – you will be battening down those hatches again soon!

    • I have been more self-indulgent than ever this year in wanting to have every last ounce (gram?) of pleasure from the flowers. It has been raining and blowing all week, but a few flowers are still persisting in the more sheltered corners.

      • And who wouldn’t be self-indulgent in those circumstances…?

  2. Liz Morton

    Wonderful photographs of the flowers. Such a joy to see. Liz Morton

    • Thank you Liz. I’m holding onto the vision to keep me going until next year. At least I have the photographs to remind me of how good it can be.

      • Liz Morton

        Wish we were there for the gales & rain!

        • Are you sure? You would be very cosy in cottage sitting by the fire watching the wind and rain.

  3. Lovely to see your last blooms Christine. This late October -blooming has been a special treat this year. Like you I want to enjoy the flowers for as long as possible, because after the first frost they will disappear. Until then I am not cutting anything back.

    • It was lovely while it lasted! I had a quick peek yesterday whilst digging parsnips in the rain and there are still a few blooms left.

  4. I’m amazed that you have such colour at this time of the year…I hope it doesn’t all get blown away too soon.

    • This autumn has been exceptional. Usually the garden is in deep hibernation by mid October.

  5. Glad to see that you’ve enjoyed this lovely autumnal spell as well, and very envious of the rich colour of the Horned Poppy variant,
    best wishes

    • Horned poppy is lovely, but seeds like a thug. I’m happy to tolerate it as it is a lovely plant. A rare coastal gem.

  6. Still a lot in flower with you – wonder if there still is? I do hope your gorgeous plants hold up better than mine for a little bit longer – I can only match the calendulas and the sedum…

    • I think I have to accept that it is now time to get out the shears and wheelbarrow – well as soon as it stops raining and blowing.

  7. Lovely poppies! I’ve cut some things back as they were smothering some
    plants still coming. But like you, do I cut back now or leave as protection ’til the spring?

    • Problem solved, the wind decided and now all I have to do is tidy-up!

  8. I love your phrase ‘beauty in the imperfection of ageing’. Absolutely. The ageing is all part of the cycle of life and without it there would be no spring or indeed life. It has been one of the best Octobers I can remember for flowers and produce, or does blogging make one take better notice?

    • It is rather sad that some can only see beauty in perfection when so often it is the imperfection that is the essential element. I think reading reminds us to take notice of our own surroundings and experiences and the importance of sharing. I love the virtual tours of other gardens. It has been a remarkable autumn – a real treat after some indifferent summer weather.

  9. The beautiful autumn weather is definitely on the way out here too. You know the gales are coming but they still do take me by surprise at how much damage they can cause to the flower patch! I left everything standing too just to enjoy the last few flowers but I think now the real tidying up will have to begin!

    • The extra tidying-up is well worth the pleasure of a few extra days in which to enjoy the garden.

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