Light is everything in a garden. Especially in late autumn when long slanting rays of sunlight touch the brilliance of the last of the autumn leaves. This is especially true of the ornamental grapevine, Vitis cognetaie, as it's leaves transform from lush summer green into fiery red iridescence, the most brilliant of autumn foliage. Draped across the verandah of my cottage, catching the morning sun, the red leaves become transparent as the light reflects through the window at the end of the verandah. The reds, oranges, pinks and burgundys of those last lingering leaves intensify as though trying to cram in every last moment of of light and life before they must drop and shrivel away. We know that this is the last fling before the light fades, the dimmer days of winter set in, and only the bare skeleton of the vine remains.
The low slanting sunlight of late autumn is perfect for highlighting the colour of the fiery leaves of the ornamental grape - Vitis cognitiae. Its varying tones of burgundy, scarlet, crimson and orange just sing in sunlight, draped against the blue painted house.
This is one of gardening's happy accidents, because long ago when I found this cottage with its sunny verandah, I planted this particular flamboyant grape to sparkle up the original paint colour in the background. And it didn't matter that the ornamental grape is non fruit bearing - colour was more important than food!
Nondescript, would describe perfectly the colour of the cottage as it was then - boring stone-beige, hardly deserving of this brilliant vine. It wasn't until the autumn after I finally decided to branch out and paint the cottage blue, that I discovered the happy accident. I was more concerned that the blue of the cottage should match the grey-blue colour of the roof, rather than foliage of the humble vine. But as the grape foliage changed from summer green to fiery crimson against the blue house, and the colours began to bounce and sing to each other that autumn, I knew this was a flash of accidental inspiration. Fleeting though it is, because later in May, just when leaves reach their most fiery iridescence, they will start to drop, until we are left with just one lone red leaf, clinging to the bare vine, flapping mournfully in the cold grey wind.