“I like Autumn. The drama of it; the golden lion roaring through the back door of the year, shaking its mane of leaves. A dangerous time; of violent rages and deceptive calm, of fireworks in the pockets and conkers in the fist.”
Joanne Harris – Gentlemen and Players
After another long break from making my regular Monday vase I am glad to be back here welcoming the new autumnal season. It has been a very hectic summer followed by our annual holiday in Florida (I am so glad we got out before Irma hit!!) and it feels good to be entering a fresher, cooler season. I am not really a sun lover and enjoy my garden far more in the cooler months than I do in the height of summer. Whilst I have plenty of jobs lined up for the month ahead, the first task this weekend was to dead head all the cutting beds after a couple of weeks of neglect. It was these cuttings that inspired this weeks vase. As ever on a Monday I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to join in with her challenge to find something from the garden to put in a vase every week.
Along with the flowersI have included some pears and a couple of stems of tomatoes – we have plenty to harvest in the coming weeks! This has been a great year for apples which I started harvesting back in July and I have squashes galore climbing the sides of my fruit cage. I planted a new raspberry bed back in the spring and that is providing some very juicy autumn raspberries and my little greenhouse is bulging with tomatoes, aubergines and cucumbers!
The fading heads of hydrangea Annabelle are where I started with this vase. I normally leave the dried heads standing through the winter and enjoy the papery brown flowers until March or April (I used them in a Monday vase here, here and here a couple of years ago). Whilst we were away we had some work done on the pergola where they grow and a few stems were broken, so I did not want to waste them. Looking at these lovely faded creamy lime heads inspired the other flower choices in similar muted shades.
These beautiful zinnias are called Queen Red Lime. Whilst zinnias are usually brash and bright this variety flowers in softer faded velvet shades. I am becoming quite addicted to zinnias. Not only are they a good cut flower, lasting well in a vase but they are also a fabulous border addition. They start to flower in July and gather strength and bulk throughout August, resulting in an abundance of blooms in September and October and through to the first frosts. They can be started in the greenhouse in April or sown direct in May – just watch for slug damage if you choose the direct route. My other favourite zinnia is called Giant Purple (which you can see in this post) – it grows very tall so is a great plant for the middle of a border to bring late colour.
In amongst the tomatoes you can see tendrils of the annual vine Cobea Scandens. This is a tricky one! It needs to be sown very early in the year – I started mine in January – but is a half hardy so cannot be planted out until after the last frosts even though it will be growing quite energetically by early May. Once planted outside growth slows dramatically and it is easy to forget about. Make sure it has something to climb though and check regularly that it is actually climbing and not sprawling across your beds and you will be rewarded in September with a rampant climber with beautiful blue or white bells and lovely tendrils to add a touch of whimsey to autumn arrangements.
Be warned – this vine is a ferocious climber – you can see here how well it has tangled itself around a sweet pea plant – the brown leaf is a dead sweet pea petal. It doesn’t seem to be harming any of the plants it is using for support though and will be finished by the first frost.
The dahlia that I used this week is called Dark Butterfly and is a new one in my garden this year. The colours tone well with both the zinnias and hydrangea Annabelle and I love the way that the darker underside of the petals curves around so that all the colours are visible.
As I have said before, for me September marks the beginning of my gardening year. This is the month when bulb planting will start, the first seeds will be sown for next summers flowers and new planting plans will be put in place. September is also a glorious month of flowers in the Cutting Garden with dahlias, zinnias, amaranthus, annual phlox and a second flush of roses filling the beds. In the main garden the crab apples are colouring up, the leaves are starting to gently litter the lawn and I noticed that I have a few snowberries on some bushes that were planted in the spring. I am looking forward to making apple cake, fruit crumbles and soups with produce from the garden and finding lovely ripe figs to eat with cheese at the market. It is time to cosy up the house with warmer duvets, candles and perhaps a fire if the evenings gets cold enough. We have finally purchased a fire bowl so that we can continue to enjoy evenings outside if the wet weather retreats. I am feeling rejuvenated and invigorated with the cooler temperatures and am looking forward to the month ahead!
I wish you all a very productive and happy gardening week ahead!