Garden designer Pauline Caroline Jones explores the wonders of Autumn

As I write this article, autumn is in full swing (excuse the pun) and it seems a while ago since my visit to the Sitting Spiritually garden back in September.  We talked all things gardens, met with the talented designers, Sarah Jarman and Anna Murphy, who just happened by ... and drank seemingly endless mugs of tea (Martin makes great builder's tea!)

... the decked boardwalk above the garden serves as a wonderful viewing platform ...
... the decked boardwalk above the garden serves as a wonderful viewing platform ...

Although lockdown restrictions are upon us once more, on a positive note we still have our glorious gardens and the ever-changing tapestry of the countryside to enjoy. 

Autumn offers a mix of both decay and hope, which seems quite fitting in these strange times ... and haven't the colours been truly spectacular this year, especially the yellows.  So, what makes leaves change colour?  We know that brilliant autumn hues coincide with cooler temperatures, but it's actually the longer nights that trigger chemical changes in the leaves.  As the days shorten, the green chlorophyll that is responsible for photosynthesis is lost faster than it can be replaced, revealing an underlying pigmentation in the leaves, known as carotenoids. This is what produces such a vibrant colour spectrum.

I absolutely love working in the garden at this time of the year, clearing leaves to make a deliciously wormy compost with my mate robin not too far away, the smoky bonfires that bring back happy childhood memories, planting up the last of the tulip bulbs (they respond to cooler growing temperatures) and best of all, putting my designer hat on to plan another rewarding year ahead. 

... a promise of things to come ...
... a promise of things to come ...

In my own garden the potato vine, Solanum jasminoides 'Album' is taking centre stage on a warm south facing wall and will continue to do so until the first frosts arrive.  Two Malus 'Red Obelisk' (perfect for small gardens) are laden with conical red fruits, tempting thrushes and blackbirds to feast upon them. Miscanthus is wafting in the gentle breeze and the Australian rosemary, Westringia fruticosa is confused and coming back into flower. This is a good time to seek out self-seeders for replanting or donating, notably white foxgloves, Euphorbia, Verbena bonariensis and the giant viper's bugloss, Echium pininana, which the bees just love to dine out on.  There is a lovely story about the sea holly, Eryngium giganteum ‘Miss Willmott’s Ghost’, named after Edwardian plantswoman Ellen Willmott, who had a cheeky habit of secretly sprinkling the seeds in the gardens that she visited.  Loving that idea!

Eryngium "Miss Wilmott's Ghost"
Eryngium "Miss Wilmott's Ghost"

With other elements of the garden gently fading, seed heads and ornamental grasses are coming into their own now, especially Anenome x hybrida, which is on the brink of an explosion of fluffiness! This brings us back to the Sitting Spiritually garden and the mention of a random planting of pink Anenome, which apparently wasn't part of the original planting design concept and as I recall has something to do with Feng shui ...

... the random planting of pink anenome ...
... the random planting of pink anenome ...

The garden was just starting to go over and seed heads were an element of structure that were most impressive, as well as providing perfect fodder for birds and insects through the winter months. Cephalaria, cardoon, Echinops, fennel and montbretia weaved their way effortlessly through the garden, repetition being the key to cohesion. 

... Crocosmia going to seed amongst late flowering perennials and grasses.
... Crocosmia going to seed amongst late flowering perennials and grasses.
... Fennel seed heads in the Sitting Spiritually garden ... the birds love them!
... Fennel seed heads in the Sitting Spiritually garden ... the birds love them!
.. Cephalaria gigantea weaving through the ornamental grasses ...
.. Cephalaria gigantea weaving through the ornamental grasses ...

The Sitting Spiritually garden is truly an inspiration.  During Spring I hope to return to observe the new planting of bulbs, with the excuse of finishing off an article intended for the September 2021 issue of Dorset Life magazine, which after all was the original reason for my visit ...

 

Pauline is a garden designer, lecturer, writer and shepherdess ... but that's another story ...

www.paperwhitegardendesign.co.uk

www.littleflockofcurls.co.uk

All photographs by Pauline Jones

 

Posted by Siobhan on November 17th 2020


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