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.