There are many compensations in the plant world for the end of summer and onset of winter. A particular favourite in autumn is the Rugosa rose Roseraie de L’Hay which is currently laden with hips just ready for transforming into rosehip syrup, jelly or jam. These are a disease free group of roses that grow rapidly to form excellent dense hedges even in exposed gardens by the sea. At this time of year they are available on-line or in garden centres and sold as bare root plants in bundles of ten ready for planting out. Within three years a substantial hedge will be established with healthy apple-green foliage and rich wine-purple buds that open to crimson flowers with yellow stamens. R.Rugosa Alba is the white variety and this also produces hips and both have a strong and very sweet fragrance.
I spottted this Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ last week just as the leaves were beginning to turn a fiery red. It grows to 3m high and 3m wide and requires sun or part-shade. It can be pruned back to base in spring which will encourage large fresh young leaves but by so doing you forfeit the flowers. These are tiny but grow together to make a reddish-brown diaphanous plume lasting well into autumn. It’s an excellent shrub for the back of a mixed border where I suggest it’s left to grow tall enough to catch the sun through the leaves. At the base it could be planted with white Anemone japonicas or the lime green Euphorbia characias ssp.wulfenii.
The dramatic bonfire-like colours on the leaves of the Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia ) above are lighting up a tall brick wall here and more than compensate for a drop in temperature. But if I were choosing again I would go for Parthenocissus henryana below which has a more interesting leaf in summer: dark velvety green with a maroon-bronze flush. In autumn these turn a rusty flame-red so altogether more subtle than the one above. Both are vigorous vines that can be trained to cover unsightly buildings or to clamber over walls and fences where they will progress with tiny suckers attached to tendrils. The best colour from either plant is achieved when they are planted in shade.
More confirmation on the performance power of hydrangeas and more justification for my current obsession with them. I love the way the faded green on the pot picks up on the faded colours of the flowers.
I noticed there were magnificent flowers on the ivy so I cut some stems to mix with Sedum ‘Autumn Glory’ which is justly earning its name this month. I then added the lime-green dill flowers which worked well with the creamy-green of the ivy and the tones of all three flowers worked well in the blue vase. Phew only five more weeks of my self-imposed challenge to cut flowers for the house once a week for one year.