The leaves of Cotinus ‘Flame’ are beginning to change from blue-green to brilliant orange-red and both these stages provide interesting foliage in small gardens. This shrub does best in sun or part-shade and is deciduous but still worth planting for the unusual colour leaves which look particularly dramatic when low sunlight catches them.
I love the contrast of my stained brown allotment shed with the bright yellow flowers of Rudbekia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’. I begged a clump from a friend last year, divided them up into eight plants and all are thriving and buzzing with insect activity.Sun flowers are looking simply gorgeous on neighbouring plots and Helianthus ‘Velvet Queen’ above is back in the notebook for me to grow next year since they make a fabulous cut flower.
Sunflower ‘Ring of Fire’ below is also good for cutting. and is free-branching so there are lots of blooms to pick for the vase.
I am ready for Autumn in as much as gardening on the allotment is steadily slowing down and I can focus on other projects guilt-free. The courgette and squash plants have been cleared (neither were brilliant this year) and the rows of summer Cavolo Nero and Swiss chard have been cut back. If we get a steady amount of warmth next month there may be one more picking otherwise they will start again next April before new plants take over. The runner beans are now intolerably stringy and these will be left on the supports until the huge beans have turned papery white and can be podded. I almost grow these simply to have this treat in Autumn when a bowl of fat pink and black beans steamed and dressed with garlic butter is delicious added to pasta or rice.
Looking back we have eaten mostly allotment produce since the beginning of June with onions, garlic, shallots and spuds forming the basics and there are still more of these to be enjoyed. I’ve had a constant supply of salad leaves all summer and lots of beetroot with more to crop of both. And there are Jerusalem artichokes to come my first year of growing these so I’ll need some good recipes. The sprouts look healthy as do the leeks and oriental leaves and the various kale sown a month ago are growing steadily. I await a delivery of plug plants of brassicas that will crop from March 2014 but there will soon be a gap but less of a gap than last year. My guess is there will be two pickings a week of various veg through till Christmas then not a lot till March. But next year I will be better prepared, it’s a ceaseless learning curve and that’s what I enjoy most about gardening.
A glass vase of Japanese anemone hybrida ‘Max Vogel’ is cheering up both the kitchen and the garden.