Early Morning in the October Garden

Autumn is peak season in the garden when a happy partnership of autumn performing woody plants and the massed flowers and foliage of the deciduous grasses combine in an autumnal extravaganza of colours, textures and forms to such fabulous effect that is quite simply the high point of our whole year.

Early morning is good time to enjoy the garden and especially so in the autumn as the air is often still and the light can take on an almost magical quality. While it can be chilly, as it was this morning, the first rays of sunshine appearing over the treetops (such as the Shady garden above), is as welcome for the sheer beauty it brings as much as for the warmth that it offers. These moments may be short lived but they remain in the memory for a long time.

At the corner of the Decennium and the start of the Long Walk (above), panicum, miscanthus and pampas are set almost perfectly against the magnificent autumnal colours of the spindle trees.

At the edge of the Dragon garden and covered in a morning dew, the smoky grey fluffy flowerheads of Pennisetum Dark Desire (above), seem to almost smoulder in the early light.

The tall stems of Arundo donax Versicolor (above), soaking up the first rays of sunshine in the Gravel garden.

The Decennium border (above) contains many rather fabulous miscanthus such as Cindy in the foreground and backed by the taller Flamingo, which in turn is backed by the even taller Cortaderia Sunningdale Silver. The large vine is just beginning to display the most beautiful autumnal foliage tints for which it is so well known.

Planting of the new Dry Meadow (above), only began in March 2020 but thanks in part to a really good warm summer the plants have grown very well and the whole meadow already looks pretty good. 1500 bulbs are being planted during October in readiness for the spring.

At the edges of the Dry Meadow the ground has been sculpted into lower lying swales that have created a series of new rain gardens (above). These rain gardens are designed to deal with excess water during periods of heavy rain and have already been well tested at times this summer! Planted with a mix of plants that will cope with such conditions Molinia Overdam seems very happy in its new home and is putting up a good number of its delicate looking upright flower heads.

Another molinia, this time the taller Molinia arundinacea (below), in the Mill End borders has the most elegant tall and airy stems of almost any grass. As the temperatures drop the whole plant will gradually change from green to golden yellow and seems to absorb and reflect any amount of sunlight.

Looking from a corner of the Decennium border (below), past the delicately pendulous flowering mounds of Miscanthus Cindy towards the Lower Lawn, the canoe birch, and the luscious autumnal foliage of euonymus, cornus and zelkova.

Just around the corner from the Dry Meadow and seen here (above), through an informal ‘arch’ of pyracantha the prairie switch grass, Panicum virgatum, provides its own masterclass on elegant simplicity.

Many grasses have an amazing ability to reflect and perform in even small amounts of sunlight. To see see some more examples of grasses performing in different situations take a look at our recently updated and extended Sunlit and Backlit gallery.