Autumn has its own measured pace, a far cry from the rush of spring or the exuberance of summer.

Anemone 'Prinz Heinrich' flower

This relaxed rate of change is well matched with the limited opportunities to explore and observe the garden as the hours of daylight dwindle. Lately, a few days can pass without the chance to see much of the garden, though when possible I have been seizing the last light of the day to take a (rather brisk) walk around the borders. I take pleasure in the tapestry of stems and foliage in russet and tan, admiring those that hold their shape, and noting those that decay rather less gracefully – often to take to them with a pair of secateurs the following weekend. These sepia tones are still enlivened with blazes of colour from dahlias, fuchsias, penstemon, salvias and the last Japanese anemones. Sadly the turning-back of our clocks early this morning makes these forays rather unlikely for the next few months, until the sap is surging once more and the light creeping back.

I relish the discoveries that I come upon at this time of year, all the more precious when there may be little change from one week to the next. Β This morning I found the first flower on our Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ since we dug it up from our last garden, where it had barely begun to settle in, and consigned it to a pot for a couple of years before finally being able to plant it out here a couple of years ago.

Another, more quirky, discovery that has brought a smile to my face this week was a number of poppy seedheads that, rather than peppering the ground with their contents, had failed to disperse their seeds. Instead, a mass of fresh green sprouted from the pods as the seeds germinated where they were, encouraged by mild temperatures and moderate rainfall.

Poppy seedheads dangling with seeds sprouting

I love the contrast of this fresh growth bursting out of veined papery brown pods atop their brittle bleached stems.

Poppy seeds sprouting as they stand in pods

Poppy seeds sprouting in standing podsDefinitely one of the season’s best surprises.


22 thoughts on “Zest

  1. Well the pace of the weather over the past 24 hours has been far from “measured” around our way! Fortunately very little damage in my garden, although the roads and railways have been severely disrupted by fallen trees. The business of the poppy seeds germinating without being dispersed is interesting. I had some beans like that: although the pods seemed fully ripe, the seeds inside were soft and beginning to send out ‘radicles’ or whatever they’re called.

    • Indeed, we seem to have missed most of Jude’s visit, with the winds barely stronger than a typical blustery day, and the rain a little heavier to cause some local floods, but little real damage. I’ve heard of quite a few falling trees and things around your area though – glad that your garden has escaped safely.

  2. Maybe that’s why I love Autumn so much, because the pace slows down. I am lucky to be able to get out and enjoy the autumn light during the day. That first photo is stunning, but those poppies are positivly surreal!!

    • I must confess that while I love summer, and it’s all-immersive splendour, part of me is quietly rather relieved not to have to concentrate quite so hard on the garden, without feeling it’s running away in the background!
      I was captivated by the poppies.

  3. Early retirement has some advantages Sara I but can vividly remember that agonisingly long haul between October and March, when the garden was often only seen at the weekend. What time you have out there is precious and I think that you probably observe more because of it. Those germinating poppy heads are most spooky indeed – nature has provided the perfect recyclable plant pot.

    • I definitely try and make the most of the more limited opportunities to hop out into the garden at this time of year. The determination of the poppies makes me smile!

  4. A stunning set of photos – I love the tiny trace of spider’s web on your seedheads! Evening is my favourite time of day for a quiet browse around the garden and I’ve watched the disappearing evenings with dismay – half past four yesterday! – what with the clocks going back and bad weather looming. However, once it starts to get really cold I won’t miss it quite so much and I’m quite looking forward to planning for next year!

    • Thank you; the spiders certainly seem to be busy. It’s true that on a cold day a few minutes outside can seem plenty, and a warm house twice as inviting… Yes, we do have the perfect opportunity to dream and scheme for next year now.

    • Yes, they look very much like cress seedlings – remind me of a craft book I had as a child which suggested growing a cress face on a sponge to give a similar 3-d effect to these!! πŸ™‚

  5. What a lovely descriptive piece of writing, Sara, and those poppy seed heads are indeed mind-blowing!. Like Anna, I am enjoying the benefits of a slightly early retirement but never a day goes by that I don’t give grateful thanks that I was able to do so – and it was in fact the spiritual pull of the garden and all things connected with this that made me take the very sudden decision to finish work. It still seems a privilege to be able to ramble round the garden at my leisure at any time of day I choose (and I soon found that the fear of that loss of income was completely unjustified after all)

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