November 18, 2017

Caroline’s Garden Diaries 4 November 2014: Hips and haws and ivy flowers

The gardening year’s ending in flames. Was at Westonbirt last week; it’s the National Arboretum, and we’re there to admire autumn colours. Even in the rain, it was wonderful – masses of Acers in fiery dress, specially planted in a glade and along a new walk; lovely to see them, particularly as I know their children – the Japanese maples round the lake at the Yorkshire Arboretum. And all sorts of other fine trees, in gorgeous colours, a treat to see; you had to agree with the quotes on the leaflet (the paper sort) “every leaf a flower” and “a second spring, the decay of leaf is its glory”.

But it’s not just leaves on fire; my eye was suddenly caught by bright blood-orange patches on a magnolia tree that looked like beaded bracelets – seeds spilling out of opened pods! Never seen them before on magnolia, had to check the label.

Back home my spindle tree has lost its beautiful wine-red leaves but still has two berries – only a detail but they shine out with astonishing magenta and orange. In the hedges, there are strings of pretty red bryony berries twined round bare ash seedlings, that look like someone’s started early on Christmas decorations. Speaking of which, holly trees are all ready for festivities too, only unfortunately the birds will have eaten all the berries by the time we’re ready. Hawthorns are laden with haws “like blood in the hedgerows”, accurate but not the nicest description; guelder roses with their translucent deep red fruit are beautiful, as are dog-rose hips; as for the cotoneasters, wow.

The year may be ending dramatically but the new one’s quietly under way; trees thinking ahead, forming new buds on bare twigs, catkins on the hazels, and flowers on the ivy.

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