The autumn is now quite official and undeniable as the clocks have just dropped back the hour. It’s funny how I always feels so shocked and sad as the light starts to fade much earlier and quite abruptly at the end of these shorter days. It’s as if I am experiencing it for the first time every year. I think having grown up in a lower latitude makes the extreme lengths of Irish days, longer in the summer of course and painfully short in the winter, even more dramatic. Having said that, in a couple of weeks I will be happily resigned to it as I sit with my cup of tea by the fire and the old dog with her head in my lap.
So it’s the autumn colour that uplifts the spirit and keeps it from falling too low as the days draw in. If you grow blueberries, you will know that it is not only the fruit you can enjoy (if you can wrestle it from the birds), but the leaves in autumn have some of the best colour. I have decided to make this little leaf above my cover girl. It is one of those fantastic colours that is hard to believe is natural – it’s like a shade of lipstick or something that’s been PhotoShopped. And the blueberry leaves have a spectrum of reddish hues…
This one really is like a shade of lipstick. If you can’t grow blueberries in the ground due to limey soil (you will know this is the case if the leaves turn a sickly, chlorotic yellow during the summer), then put one in a large pot with some ericaceous soil and keep it near the house so you can beat the birds to the berries and enjoy this lovely colour in the autumn. The stems can often be lovely as well, especially the newer growth.
And red isn’t the only lovely colour around. End of summer and early autumn are good times for the yellows as well.
I really love the rich jewel tones of some of the chards. They are nice to eat as well (requiring lashings of garlic and olive oil, of course). But sometimes I just leave them be in the garden as they earn their place long past the time that some of the whimpier flowers have given up.
Speaking of cover girls and supermodels… Here’s one of my favourite trees. I bought this little beauty in a tiny pot; she was probably 6 inches tall. I think she’s been in the ground for about 5 years. She’s a slow enough grower and is apparently not that easy to propagate, so she can be a bit pricier to purchase than some of the other maples. Her name is Acer griseum. My photo doesn’t really do her justice in terms of the autumn colour, but her beautiful peeling bark really steals the show. The bark is the colour of a cinnamon stick.
Finally, there’s plenty to be cheerful about this time of year. Make some time to have a stroll around the place and have a look at some of the details you might miss in the louder more obvious times of year in the garden. It’s the quiet and the peace that can be appreciated at this time of year, and little things like peeling bark and the robin following you around as you take your stroll. Just as a final goodbye to the long days of summer…
Enjoy the peace and quiet of this time of year!