Time to plan and plant as the season for the senses is there

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Pennisetum 'Hameln' © Isabelle van Groeningen

Pennisetum ‘Hameln’

This is a stunning time of year. All senses are treated as you walk through the garden. The eye is treated to the first fiery streaks of autumn colour catch your attention as the first shoots of Parthenocissus and the first Euonymus turn bright red. The various fruits and berries add to this colour spectacle, as Crab Apples like Malus ‘Red Sentinel’ glow red in the autumn sunlight. Yesterday I was offered the first quinces by a friend. To start with they can perfume the room, but soon they will be turned into delicious jelly and paste to be served with cheese. Whilst the tastebuds are activated in the anticipation of tasty things to come, the touch has pleasure at the silky feel of Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’. Soft as a cat’s tail this grass is at its most tactile right now. The nose follows the tempting smell of the sweet caramel scent of the yellowing foliage of Cercidiphyllum japonicum, as well as the last of the roses.

Rosa 'Roald Dahl' © Isabelle van Groeningen

Rosa ‘Roald Dahl’ – the last roses

Evergreens losing their leaves

Gewöhnliche Waldrebe © Isabelle van Groeningen

Gewöhnliche Waldrebe

Even our stunning Weymouth Pine on the café lawn is turning yellow as it is going through its annual moulting. Each autumn it turns very yellow for a few weeks, as the old needles die off and drop. So many visitors are concerned by the appearance and point out that the tree is dying whilst others contact us, worried that their evergreens are diseased because of yellowing leaves that fall off. As long as the new growth on a plant appears fit and healthy, there is no reason to worry. Every evergreen, be it a Rhododendron or a Thuja, will shed at some stage or other its older leaves. Some do this little by little, throughout the season, other have a fixed time in their seasonal calendar as is the case with our pine. Some species loose the one-year old leaves or needles, others hold on to them for two years or longer.

Pinus strobus © Isabelle van Groeningen

Pinus strobus

Seven Son Flower or Heptacodium miconioides

Although most plants are getting ready for winter, the last of our shrubs to flower is at its most beautiful again. After a recent shower the path beneath the Heptacodium miconioides was strewn with starry white flower that had been knocked off by the rain. Just when you think it’s over with the pretty scented flowers and a slight feeling of sadness sets in with the knowledge that the flowering season is well and truly finished, attractive greenish-pink winged seeds appear that are as beautiful and decorative as the white flowers, with the only difference that they are no longer scented. This late beauty is a welcome guest in every garden.

The ideal planting season

As the days grow shorter and the weather gets cooler, and we finally get some much-needed rain, it is high time to think about planting these special plants. Spend your evenings with your notes and gardening books (or your favourite website) and look what you should be planting to make your garden even better for next year.

Think of all the senses that can be stimulated in your garden, however small or full it may seem. Think at which time of year you need something to lighten the mood and cheer up the spirits.

Then get on with it. You should not only be thinking about planting, you should urgently be doing it. The soil has finally gained in moisture but still retains a lot of warmth, and as long as the trees and shrubs have leaves, they can produce the necessary hormones a plant needs to produce new roots and get established before the onset of winter.

Autumn versus spring planting

These past years have shown how important it is to plant in autumn rather than spring, as trees and shrubs have time to put down the first new roots before the dry season knocks on the door.  We do not know what sort of winter lies ahead of us, nor de we know what spring or summer will follow it. Just to be on the safe side, plant now, lovingly, thoughtfully, and then enjoy your work in years to come!

Acer palmatum 'Bi-Hoo' © Isabelle van Groeningen

Acer palmatum ‘Bi-Hoo’