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Autumn Scrapbook

September 21st 2023
Autumn equinox brings skies brooding heavy clouds filled with evening sun. An iconic start to the season of light and shadows, mists and melancholy. Autumn: The time when the Earth draws life back into itself…

A preparation for dormancy. Winding down, shedding the old. Decay. The path of the sun follows suit. From here in, the nights become longer; The days shorter; The sun lower; The skies moody, heavy, changeable. Sunlight pierces glancingly brilliant, contrasty and clear… at other times veiled, muted, filtered and flat. The garden heaves, slows, crunches to a halt. Fading flowers, crushed by frosts, muddied by rain, flicker out one by one. Leaves curl, shed, blacken or momentarily flare up like never before: bonfires and smoke. But amongst decay, also growth…

▲ View from the end of my garden over Aldingbourne rife to the South Downs. 21/09/23


A celebration of the autumn garden

a photo gallery | 2023

Ivy leaved cyclamen
(Cyclamen hederifolium)

The corm of this cyclamen has grown to over 8 inches (20cm) across, throwing up hundreds of mauve-pink flowers throughout October and November. Growing here with the delicate maidenhair spleenwort ferns (Asplenium trichomanes) The foliage of hardy cyclamens are prominent in winter, visible from October until April after which the bulb goes dormant.

Below: Winter foliage of
C. hederifolium and C. coum.

Large Yellow Foxglove
(Digitalis grandiflora)

For the last three years, this perennial foxglove has had a late second flowering in autumn. Its pale yellow flowers are more striking at this time than they were in June, glowing in the dull light, bright against the darkened foliage of long-faded summer perennials.

Robb’s spurge
(Euphorbia robbiae)

Robb’s spurge
(Euphorbia robbiae)

A subtly beautiful shade plant with interesting botanical features in every season, including subtle autumn colour.

Autumn rain

Many flowers take a beating from the (frequent) autumn rain, but evergreens such as the ferns and hedges remain attractive.

‘The lady of the lake’

Roses provide some of the best autumn flowers, especially the repeat varieties. The Lady of the Lake, shown here, is an elegant short rambler, producing a succession of delicate roses on slender stems well into November. Regular deadheading in summer increases autumn flowering.

Rosa ‘Strawberry hill’


Throughout October autumn colours increase in the garden. The brilliant orange in this photo comes from the leaves of my Amelanchier.

‘Playa blanca’

Like most Dahlias, this one flowers right through autumn. I find that white flowers harmonise readily with strong autumn hues.

Japanese anemone ‘Honourine Jobert’

This late-summer perennial flowers deep into Autumn, finishing gracefully as its foliage turns yellow.Left to its own devices, it will develop into a large clump, I prefer to keep it smaller and more open, so the flowers are less crowded. Either, prune out 50% of the stems close to the ground, or dig out part of the crown in late spring.

Raining again…

Even the pigeon is soggy!

Autumn harvest

It is not until mid-October that my figs and pear are ready for picking. The pears need a few days indoors to fully ripen.

Misty morning

△ View across the fields
at the end of the garden

Fuchsia ‘Hawkshead’

The hardy fuchsias are good late-season shrubs. The small flowers — especially of the delicate ‘Hawkshead’ — deserve close attention, dangling like jewelled earrings along thin stems.

Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’

‘Annabell’ is a well-known cultivar of H. arborescens. Its summer mop-head flowers open from pale green to a beautiful clear white. Unlike white Hortensia’s, though, these flowers fade gracefully to parchment, then buff brown. The autumn heads can be cut and used as a dried flower.


After the rain, brilliant clear skies.
Low, slanting sun strikes the hedges
creating patterns across the garden.

November flowers

Autumn Colour

Autumn colour contrasts with evergreen topiary
Orange berries on the Pyracanther espalier,
Gold waving Japanese Forest grass,
Brown flowers of Hydrange ‘Anabelle’

(November 21st 2023)

Japanese Forest grass
(Hakonechloa macra)

This wonderful ornamental grass has fiery autumnal colours.

Foxglove rosettes

Foliage plants can be as inspirational as flowers.


The first frost of winter arrived on 2nd of December

(view across the pond towards the house)

Frosted Fuchsia

I grew some tender fuchsias in a mixed planter this year, and enjoyed their pale-pink flowers all summer. After the frost, however, they were transformed into sugar-coated marzipan beauties.

Aster ‘Mönch’

Frost adds another dimension to the garden, stilling and brightening everything with its deadly touch and sealing the fate of the late-flowering perennials.


At the first sign of frost, I rounded up the not-so-hardy potted perennials and brought them into my unheated greenhouse. I’ll keep them here until spring. There’s two dozen large pots of Agapanthus, a few Dahlias, Pineapple lilies, and an osteospermum under cover now. I keep them on the dry side which helps them tough out the cold. I’ve never lost an Agapanthus in the greenhouse, although I used to think only the half-hardy varieties needed the cover. Last year, I learned my lesson, when a combination of wet and freezing conditions reduced my pots of hardy Agapanthus to mush, despite them having survived previous winters. So now they all come under glass. Look! They even have fairy lights to cheer them up.

(The wall shrub is my peach tree)

Agapanthus ‘Silver Baby’

flowering in the greenhouse in December

Hardy Evergreen Spurges

Myrtle spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites)
This euphorbia is also known as the broad leaved glaucous spurge — a reference to its milky blue foliage. As an evergreen, its incredible geometric form is very desirable in the winter at a time when many other perennials have died back. Needs a sunny open site.

Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’ (E. characias ‘Silver swan’)
Another evergreen spurge. This one prefers shade, but grows into a taller plant. The stems grow upright and are terminated in summer with panicles of green-white flowers. Looks dramatic at dusk and in moonlight. It goes limp after hard frosts but quickly recovers.

Euphorbia characias
‘Silver swan’

Christmas Decorations

The Amelanchier tree, right outside our dining room, is perfect for carrying baubles. We grow the Christmas tree (left) in a pot, and wheel it into position each year.

— THUS ENDS 2023 —

4 thoughts on “Autumn Scrapbook 2023”

    • Thanks so much Monika! I actually published it prematurely before it was thoroughly checked, so I’m not satisfied with its web performance or typos!… just correcting and improving it now. (BTW my brother lives in Germany – Arnsberg) – Happy Christmas from England!

    • Thanks so much Roland.
      Euphorbia myrsinites is hardy to -10C to -15C,
      E. characias “Silver swan” -5 to -10
      E. amygdaloides “Robbiae”(Robb’s spurge) -15 to -20C

      Obviously, there are other factors (wind chill, waterlogged ground etc) but all three should thrive in many parts of Germany.


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