Monday, 28 September 2015

Autumn up close and personal.

We seem to be having quite reasonable weather at the moment, not too wet! As the garden fades from late summer and everything changes from a lush green to the yellows, reds and browns of autumn I thought it might not be a bad idea to do some close-ups. Autumn is a time, after the summer colour displays, that, as in spring, we now turn to the individual beauty and form of flowers as they become less of a feature. Some which would be hardly inspiring during a summer of bright colours suddenly become subtly beautiful when not pushed into the sidelines by some of their more colourful cousins.

Eupatorium purpureum subsp. maculatum 'Atropurpureum'
Easy to grow preferring a damp position Joe Pye Weed is a beautiful late flowering six foot butterfly and bee magnet which does benefit from the "Chelsea Chop" if one remembers.

Actaea simplex (Atropurpurea Group) 'Brunette'
Coming in at around five feet with me the beautiful delicate white flowers of this Cohosh really stand out against the almost black foliage and are also insect magnets. 

Angelica archengelica cultivar.
Angelica archengelica
Two stages of ripeness of my favourite Umbellifer, the seeds of some of my plants with Angelica 'Ebony' in their parentage have a more purple hue before fully ripening.

Buddleja weyeriana 'Sungold'
Still in full bloom, this late-flowering Buddleja has the beautiful yellow colour along with the vigour of the more familiar types.  

Chelone obliqua
Easy to spot why this very hardy perennial is know as the 'turtle head', seems to thrive in the most hostile of dry conditions.

This is not the "common" montbretia but a named variety whose name I have forgotten, none of these orange/yellow types have the vigour of Crocosmia 'Lucifer' but tend to flower later.

Cyclamen hederifolium
Here is a Cyclamen mini-jungle, perhaps a mouse-eyed view?  

This nasturtium is a real beauty!

Lovely variation in what is a staple of summer in any garden, still flowering away and will last until the first frosts. Easily propagated, the seed can be found lying on the soil beneath the plants or even taken green from the plant as long as they are swollen enough. Dried and stored in the fridge will give plenty of plants for next year.

Gentiana asclepiadea
The Willow Gentian, yet another example of the genus Gentiana producing some of the best blues in the plant kingdom.

Kirengeshoma palmata
I have absolutely no idea why this plant has an AGM although funnily enough it is not listed on the RHS site as such. I have a large specimen of this Japanese rhizomatous perennial which sits at the base of a silver birch. I find the flowers are generally spasmodic and in a year with early frosts they don't make it to full flower. Although not shown all the lower leaves have been eaten away, I assume by slugs, but the damage does vary year on year.

You can't beat the knot-weeds for good late summer colour although they can be a bit invasive.

Sedum 'Jose Aubergine'
Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy'
For autumn read Sedum, glaucous foliage, preferring a sunny position but will tolerate some shade where they may flop, so another good candidate for the "Chelsea Chop"

Speckled Wood butterfly (Pararge aegeria) on Persicaria
If I ever doubted that I have dappled shade here is a native who just loves these conditions. 

Tricyrtis formosana 'Dark Beauty'
This plant was located at the bottom of a birch tree originally but has now "walked" about six feet from the base to get to more light.

Anemone tomentosa Robustissima
Big and bold, this "thug" is still one of the best for good for autumn colour in the most hostile of conditions.

Geranium 'Rozanne'
Leycesteria formosa
The Himalayan honeysuckle, seeds itself around a bit and its rather fragile hollow stems mean that it needs to be away from an area where it gets brushed against, which I haven't done! but still a neat shrub to have. 

Stylophorum lasiocarpum
Stylophorum lasiocarpum seed-pods
Now here is a thing, these plants are grown from seed sown in January of this year obtained from the SRGC as Hylomecon japonica which it ain't. I have grown this plant before and immediately recognised the leaf shape and to confirm my suspicions you only have to look at the rather extraordinary seed pods of this Japanese woodlander to confirm this. An interesting post regarding the question of the misidentification of Hylomecon is to be found here.
Lysimachia ephemerum
Not the thug of its relatives, the cool stately spires of white flowers add to the autumn garden however the weaker outer stems are prone to collapse.

I have several species and cultivars of Penstemon all in containers as they just won't "do" in the borders, this one just happens to still be in flower due to the fact it was damaged earlier in the year.

The Cardoon in bud.

The Cardoon
These two pictures are not from this year but are two of my favourite close-ups or macros as they now seem to be known now. There is something about this plant, it may be its Scottishness but I can only refer to it as THE Cardoon, it seems such a stately icon and what exquisite shades and textures.


  1. Some real delights there Rick. I love the Actaea. Never tried it, but it does sound rather splendid. Interesting your remarks about Kirengeshoma too. When I was at Rosemoor a week or so ago I noticed theirs had a lot of slug damage.

    1. Thanks rd, I am glad I am not the only one who has problems with the Kirengeshoma!

    2. Forgot to say rd the Actea also has a delightful scent.

  2. Rick, its true enough, the subtle performance of the early Autumn plants are very much appreciated, and a spell of weather like this makes it even more so. Mind you, the Rudbeckia is anything but subtle at the moment. Chelone is a very interesting plant, always made me think of (the little shop of horrors) Great post with many of my favourites, I haven't tried the Joe pie weed as yet, plenty damp spots.

    1. I like autumn second to spring in my year Alistair, I do appreciate your reference to the little shop of horrors :-). The only thing with the Eupatorium is that it needs a lot of room as it spreads very quickly.

  3. what a varied collection, beautiful flowers, Rick. The Cardoon is very spectacular. I love the nasturtiums, do you eat them? When I remember I put the flowers in salads. And the Anemone is divine, I love that soft pink, beautifully photographed.

    1. Thank you Sue, I have eaten nasturtiums but to be quite honest I currently don't remember to pick them. The Anemone is seen here as something of a "thug" but I have recently learned that if it is grown in very fertile soil it doesn't tend to wander as much, it does however seed itself around very efficiently.

  4. Thanks for an interesting post, Rick. I too find that penstemons do very little in the borders, and wondered if they were getting crowded out. I will take your tip and try them in containers next year. I also find I have to take cuttings to ensure plants for next year.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Jane, I bought a cheap collection of penstemons from hayloft a couple of years ago of which only three plants survived so I am not too enamoured about their resilience although I have, and still, grow several species. My compromise with shady damp conditions has always been to grow in containers which can be moved into the few sunnier parts of the garden.

  5. You've got lots of real gems there. I love the Gentian - gorgeous. My Nasturtiums are also getting a second wind this autumn. I never would have cut back Sedums, thanks for the tip.

  6. Thanks Jason, the Sedums respond well giving a more compact plant with smaller flower-heads but still maintaining the overall effect.

  7. Lovely collection of plants Rick, I kept scrolling down and thinking ‘I’d love to have that one, and that one and that one…’ until I remembered I am no longer in my shady garden, I have a completely different garden now with much more sun. I have never looked at prairie planting before for obvious reasons, but that might be my next thing?! But I will be adding some sedums and your Gentiana asclepiadea caught my eye – really great, looked it up and I saw it comes in white and pink too. They are on my wish-list now.

    As for close-up vs macros, to be a bit pedantic, macros are only done with a proper macro lens and gives amazing details, of small things usually in a larger than 1:1 scale. Anything else is close-ups – like yours are, and mine for that matter, I don’t have a macro lens for my camera :-)

  8. My Gentiana asclepiadea are actually showing signs of being short of water at the moment which shows how little rain we have had and also the fact they prefer moist conditions.

    On the question of macros you have opened up a bit of a can of worms there, the word macro is being diluted and you now see examples of it being preceded by "true" or followed by "(close-up)" . All the images bar three were shot in macro mode on my bridge camera and all those actual size pictures have an image larger than the subject and are therefore have a greater magnification than 1:1. with the advent of digital photography very close up images are fairly easy to obtain and I can even get closer by using zoom whilst in macro mode and closer still by getting into super-macro mode although I would need a tripod for this.

  9. I tend to agree with your comments re the Kirengeshoma Rick. I has been a bit of a disappointment in my garden. The Actaea is one of my favourites at this time of the year. The scent is amazing in my opinion. You've a lovely selection of late blooms. Tell me, are the Tricyrtis difficult. I've seen them on many blogs but never tried them.
    I hope you manage to the THE Cardoon with a good scots accent Rick. Once of my favourites too.

  10. The Tricyrtis are quite easy in a moist soil in dappled shade, I class them as woodlanders. Having a mother from the Isle of Lewis I can have a go at the Carrrr-doooon :-)