nbelievably, in spite of cyclones and the coldest rainiest Autumn I ever remember, there are still some summer flowers in the garden which amazingly, have escaped the sad soggy end which has been the fate of so many. The garden may be almost devoid of the colour of flowers, but it is the lushest and greenest I have ever seen in autumn, and so are surrounding lawns, gardens and trees.
It all looks so abnormally emerald, and out of character for Canterbury. At this time of year, when the air is usually crisp and golden with blue skies, and when trees and foliage, are dry and gasping and lawns brown and dusty, everything looks unnaturally green and lush, as though dreadful irrigation pivots have been at work.
But no, it's all natural! Or is it global warming, as there is no hint of any frosts yet? Is Canterbury going to become green, humid, damp and lush instead of blue, gold, tussocky, dry and spiky?
I purchased 2 of these dwarf Abutilon 'Lucky Lantern Orange', at the final Ellerslie Flower Show held in Christchurch in 2013 . They have proved to be one of my best buys, as their orange bell shaped flowers are the perfect colour for my garden, and situated either side of my front gate they flower prolifically, nonstop from early summer till the frosts come.
This Abutilon never outgrows it's welcome, keeping its compact rounded shape all year. The leaves may droop a bit during frosty weather, but all I do, is give them a little clip and shape in early spring and away they go again sending out new spring growth with the promise of new seasons flowers.
Are these the blackest Dahlias you have ever seen? It is an unnamed Dahlia which was given to me by a friend - perhaps 15 years ago? She didn't know how it had arrived in her garden either - just that it was gorgeous. Unthinkingly, all those years ago I planted one tuber in a wildish part of my garden, then completely forgot about it. Utterly neglected it survived, and comes up faithfully every year, finding it's way up through Hostas, Hydrangeas and a prickly Japonica bush. It does grow long and lanky, as it knows it needs too, to reach daylight.
It's not a prolific flowerer, and has the old fashioned look of one of those obscene double heavy headed Dahlias. But it isn't! Instead it has an enormous bud which opens into an almost single flower, it's dusky dark crimson petals opening wide to show a cluster of prominent golden stamens. How lucky am I to get something so stunning from such unassuming origins.
Autumn and 'mellow fruitfulness' at the little yellow cottage across the road
I remember when the Quince tree across the road in the garden of the yellow cottage, started off as a smart little white Japonica Chaenomeles 'Alba' on a standard! This was when the original owners were restoring the cottage and 'landscaping' the garden. Subsequent owners have been much more 'relaxed' about it all and gradually the white Japonica known as an ornamental quince, reverted back to its original species - the fruiting Quince, known botanically and rather dauntingly as, Cydonia oblonga. A large fruiting tree, it has become increasingly popular as an ornamental landscape tree in it's own right, because of it's attractive umbrella like shape, and lush green leaves, not to mention it's spectacular golden fruitful globes in Autumn, and pretty white blossoms in spring.
I think the golden globed tree, Cydonia oblonga is much more impressive in front of the yellow cottage than the clipped and primped standard Chaenomeles 'Alba' could ever have been.
While back at the blue cottage it is all 'Season of mists'
'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' - that overworked quote from the Keats poem
'Ode to Autumn', but it is this single line which to me epitomises Autumn better than anything else I know. And makes me want to read more - so more you have my friends - well the first verse anyway just to whet your appetite.
"SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, 5
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease, 10
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells."
And this is only the first verse. If you don't already have an anthology on your bedside table, now is the time to unearth a volume containing Keats poetry, and 'Ode to Autumn'. Even on dreary rainy autumn days like today, this poem will bring mellow autumn sun into your life.