My Garden Welcomes Autumn And So Do I


As our Southern English September begins what I hope will be a sunny farewell, my small town garden with its maybe mad juxtapositions of climbing plants, is enjoying my planned chaos.

A bee is so laden with pollen from this Passion Flower that I wonder if he will be able to fly. He can of course and he is soon visiting another flower unconsciously fertilising this my little town centre space which is now in its second year since I planted it out.

Passion Flowers compete with Clematis and Roses in their end of season convulsions and create an exotic wall around my York stoned courtyard.

It is all energy out there with that special thrusting quality that climbing plants bring to a garden.

The climbing nasturiums have no need to feel inferior as mere annuals in such elevated company. They have recognised that the sun is now giving us shorter days so it is spreading its stems in an heroic battle against time as it spreads itself over the giant 19th. Century wall outside my French windows. I brought them here by mistake when I left some pots of other plants here from my old house when I moved. They didn’t want to leave me so their seeds have germinated here in the perfect place. They are welcome to stay for as long as they want.

The roses look as if they have decided to stay too. For many of them, like Clare Austin, the creamy yellow climber, this is their third flush of blooms and they look fine against the bright blue Autumn sky picking up the white in the distant clouds and showing off yet another batch of new buds.

Benjamin Britten too is coming back for more and has shown no obvious objection to sharing his space with a lushious and newly flowering mauve clematis which shows off its territory by ostentatiously basking in the sunshine.

The roses have been excellent all year and with one exception, they have held on to their leaves too. Falstaff, with his deep magenta, Darcey Bussell in deepest crimson and Dance de feu in bright cardinal red have joined with the chameleon-like Benjamin Britten to inject red into the mix of pink, gold and mauve all summer long. Now they are joined by a new batch of red plants which have started to bloom just when, scandalously, I might have got bored by the plenty already on offer.

Three climbing fuchsias have joined the party just when I was getting used to Summer’s display. They are just the thing to wake us up at this time of year with their weirdly alien shapes and dangerously mixed colours. If I had to write a horror movie about an invading army of plants then I think I would call on the family of fuchsias to star. Surely those stamens are really there to grab you as you pass and to inject you with their deadly sting. Don’t mock them is my advice, you never know what they might do.

They don’t frighten the newest bloom though. It is now Dahlia time which for me is always my vibrantly coloured Bishop of Llandaff with special coppery foliage which contrasts perfectly with his red petals. The bishop is stored away every winter and replanted after the frosts each Spring and for some years now in this garden and in my last place, he has burst onto the scene just when you are dreading all those dreary copper and yellow Chrysanthemums. Welcome back, Your Grace.

Another splendid injection of colour has sprung up with the winter cyclamen that will, I hope, keep flowering right through into February or March when they can hand over their baton to a team of bulbs with a whole new colour chart.

So there is still plenty of life our there in my courtyard garden with something new to look at whenever I go out there. A small bed of Antirrhinums, the Snap Dragons, one of my favourite species of bedding plant has been good value for colour since June but it has provided plenty of entertainment too if you are as simple-minded as I am when it comes to watching the bees entering what could have been the original honey trap.


The show goes on but it will be all change again in October. It would be boring if it was any other way.

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