My Garden in Autumn

Autumn in New Zealand is a puzzling season for many gardeners. Here in the Moosey Garden it's a mixed-up time of the gardening year. The timetable gets a bit confused. Seasonal edges are a bit blurred. One day it's summer-warm, the next it's winter-cold.

 Golden leaves, purple chairs...
Autumn Driveway

I grow a lot of deciduous trees especially for their autumn colours. The Gleditzia and the Prunus (flowering cherry) trees create autumn leaf carpets of golden yellow, and the Ginkgo looks like it's surrounded by clotted-creamy mathematical cut-outs. The Sorbus stays in leaf - spectacularly covered in flames of red.

 A Sorbus. And only the lowest leaves have gone red. Odd.
Early Autumn Leaves

The Cotoneasters are sporting the forest green and scarlet colours of a Scots tartan. Sprays of small burnt orange hips cover the Wedding Day rose. The lime green leaves on the driveway Elms are paling, while those on the Berberis shrubs are darkening to a shocking dayglo red.

 Brilliant reds.
Autumn Dogwood and Maple Trees

Soon the Dogwoods and the Maples will join the autumn party. They always colour a little later than the golden leafed trees. Of course deciduous trees know exactly what to do in autumn, and some years they do it spectacularly.

 A great autumn flowering perennial.
Sedum Autumn Joy

Perfect Autumn Behaviour

A well bred perennial will die off with dignity, or even add its colours to the mix. Sedums exhibit this perfect autumn behaviour as their seed-heads get deeper in colour. Alas, Chrysanthymums ignore the rules, becoming scruffy and flopping over into the dirt. Phlomis knows how to make the perfect autumn picture, with new rosettes of fresh green leaves ready for spring while dark brown seed-heads reach for the weakening sun. Some rugosa roses make the perfect autumn shrubs, with golden leaves and bright red rose hips.

Preparing for Winter

The autumn gardener has obviously been doing the right things, in preparation for the coming winter. Catmint in the patio borders has been dutifully clipped, and polyanthus plants have moved into the house pots. The glass-house is full of Daisies, favourite Pelargoniums and woody Helichrysums. There might even be a row of timid winter lettuces in the vegetable garden. The seed packets have even been put in piles, anticipating spring.

The autumn bonfire...

And let's not forget the autumn bonfire, which is one continuous entity, reigniting each afternoon with new burnable rubbish, until the ash pile is too high and wide for safety.

 With autumn trees in the background.
The Autumn Bonfire

The decay of autumn is evident through the garden, as is the much heralded 'promise of spring'. Hosta leaves, tired green edged with brown, are dying off, but a confused cherry red azalea is in bud, and the stalks of spring bulbs are showing through the pea-straw. A few eccentric shrubs (like the Camellia Weeping Maiden) are even flowering.

 In the morning frost.
Weeping Maiden Camellia

The autumn gardener is supposed to look healthy and rosy-cheeked. But this should be a result of the fresh, crisp air temperatures, not of the said gardener being ridiculously overdressed. Autumn gardening is hot work! Then follows an interesting custom - the stripping off of thermal underwear, which occurs five minutes after reaching the garden. But I'm still going to leave all the merino layers in the wheelbarrow, just in case. Mother nature doesn't fool me for a minute!