The Wonders of Spindle trees
Taken only a few days ago at Knoll this image looks out across our newly extended Gravel Garden towards the Lower Lawn where in the distance a magnificent, tall native grass Molinia arundinacea can be seen showing its fabulous butter yellow autumn attire.
The deep pink foliage that catches the eye immediately belongs to one of the spindle trees, Euonymus alatus, which while having a pleasing shape all season comes into its own as autumn approaches. At first there is only a gradual hint of the glory to come, when day by day, you can detect the first signs of a change of leaf colour. Then, it always seems to me, almost overnight this spectacular change occurs when quietly pleasing green suddenly alters to many shades of gorgeous pink and it is one of the real highlights of my gardening year.
Not many of us have an arboretum or sufficient space to grow lots of woody plants just for their autumn performance, but as this image shows using shrubs and trees in our gardens is so important to help create the kind of garden that most of us enjoy, to help give depth, a sense of screening and division, and of course as homes and shelter for wildlife. So careful choice is essential! This is where shrubs like the spindles can be so useful. Our Euonymus alatus has a great rounded shape all year, quietly attractive foliage and intriguing corky winged branches that make it well worth its place in the garden every day of the year. Then as a pure bonus its capacity to provide such a wonderful autumn finale when it takes centre stage for a while is what makes gardening so satisying; that sense of excitement and change that the natural world is so good at providing and which our gardens can so often lack.