I want to start clearing away old flowers and tidying up the first wave of fallen poplar leaves but I’m holding back until a family of hedgehogs have tucked themselves to bed for hibernation at the base of a compost bin that I had intended to move this autumn.
Walking past my sorry looking asters, bedraggled sedums and collapsed colchicums I see a strong upright, orange coloured red hot poker called Kniphofia rooperi stands to attention almost shouting at me, which moves my gaze a few feet away and up the trunk of an autumnal looking Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire’, bearing clusters of bright orange berries. Its leaves are changing and soon will become an amazing autumn fiery red.
Despite how my garden reads at times it isn’t that big, just full of plants, each one chosen with consideration to the next. I look for contrast in colour, shape and seasonal interest especially in the form of berries and fruits.
Cotoneasters full of bright red berries grow up and through a reverting variegated ivy, Hedera colchica ‘Sulphur Heart’ that is covered now with unusual flowers that will later turn to almost black berries. Most of the ivy is dark green but some still has that sulphur yellow splash of colour in its leaves. An oddly shaped tall cotoneaster has a honeysuckle tangled through it and although the honeysuckle has lost most of its foliage luckily there are still a few dark red juicy fruits for the birds to enjoy. During the winter the birds congregate in the tangled web of honeysuckle stems waiting their turn at the hanging bird tables.
On the opposite side golden variegated hollies bearing bright red berries snuggle up close to the smaller dark green foliage of tall pyracantha shrubs that have yellow, red and orange berries. Again a large tree shaped Cotoneaster frigidus ‘Cornubia’ grows strong and upright through them, with contrasting leathery green leaves that mostly stay on the tree through the winter because the garden is quite sheltered. Only a few yards away from the cotoneaster is Prunus serrula, its wonderful exfoliating mahogany trunk adds more interest and will stand out even more once the trees foliage has fallen.