Sliding Softly into Autumn



I can deny it no longer. As Canada Geese fly overhead in waves of their ever lengthening skeins, Autumn has arrived.


Cercidiphyllum japonicum


Cercidiphyllum japonicum

Is it earlier this year or am I imagining it? The trees, like this one and the acer in the previous shot, do seem to have suffered some stress over the long hot summer and the leaves are turning already. Not enough yet for that lovely candy floss aroma from the Cercidiphyllum to permeate the garden. But somehow I don’t think it will be too long in coming.



Hydrangea NoID, Persicaria ‘Orange Field’, Verbena bonariensis. And a Hedychium about to bloom (far left).

Parts of the garden are still looking good but I have to confess, it’s got away from me this year. Big style. There were too many distractions. You can’t be everywhere at once and it shows. Thank goodness for zoom lenses and their ability to crop the field: the multitude of sins is forever just out of shot.


Cyclamen hederifolium


Cyclamen hederifolium, another sure sign that summer is drawing to a close.

Thanks are due to a rampant Saxifraga stolonifera for its contribution of leaves, just there to confuse. And spot the snail doing its best to hide amidst the coiled seed pods of the cyclamen? Nice try mate.


Hydrangea paniculata 'Confetti'


Hydrangea paniculata ‘Confetti’ and Stipa tenuissima

But I shall be back in the garden a little more frequently over the next few weeks. Progress on the bathroom has come to a grinding halt: the tiler has gone on holiday.. for a month! It’s incredibly frustrating because little more can be done until the tiling is complete. Both he and we hoped it would be finished before he went away but events and timing have conspired against us and it was not to be. Once we get going again there’s probably only another week’s worth of work until the whole bathroom is done, which makes it even more vexing. Never mind.

What I could do with now is some half decent early autumn weather and I can properly start the tidy up.



Cotoneaster and Pyracantha beyond

It should be a bumper year for berries. Acorns litter the paths around the house and ricochet off the greenhouse roof like gunfire shots. Many have already found their way into Mike’s lawn. I watched a squirrel this morning dig four separate holes before deciding on just the perfect spot.


Phlomis russeliana


Phlomis russeliana

Try to leave seed pods and hollow stems standing over winter, they make perfect temporary accommodation for insects and look wonderful when all those little pointy and hairy bits are touched by frost.



In my heavy clay soil planting, dividing and shifting stuff around is best done in Spring but September is almost as good. So I’ve used this last weekend to get a bit of a head start. Recent rains have softened the soil and it’s still warm enough for roots to get established before winter takes hold.

And what a productive weekend it has turned out to be. For only the second time since records began the pot ghetto has actually been cleared. Yes, unbelievable as it may sound, anything that could be planted bloomin’ well has been. It’s quite surreal, walking past that empty space round the back of the greenhouse. It feels abandoned and unloved. Desperately in need of something to fill it..


Cornus kousa 'Satomi'


Cornus kousa ‘Satomi’

The fruits are supposedly edible.


Three more plant fairs still to get to before the season is done. And in doing so of course there may yet be one of those navigational errors which by an odd twist of fate often seem to end at some nursery or other. We’ve promised ourselves at least a couple of days out during the enforced lull that will be September. I must also get properly back into blogging and catch up with you all.


Panicum virgatum 'Squaw'


Panicum virgatum ‘Squaw’, blowin’ in the breeze.


And finally.. continuing the occasional look back to seasons past: The Precipitous Bank, end of August 2015 (left) and at the beginning of September 2018 (right). If you are reading via Feedly, Bloglovin’ or the subscriber email, click through to rusty duck to view this slider properly. It’s a theme dependent widget.


End August 2015September 2018


It’s slow progress but it’s coming on.

A gradual increase in that mass of colour which has to be the aim. And overall, more balanced I think.


Linking, somewhat belatedly, to Sarah’s Through The Garden Gate (here) and Helen’s End of Month View (here) who offer plenty of early autumn colour of their own.


2018-09-04T13:03:34+00:00September 4th, 2018|Tags: |


  1. Penny Post September 4, 2018 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    Lovely inspirational images. Like you I have heavy clay soil but not as much space and not being a very knowledgeable gardener I might well pinch some of your planting ideas for my plot, just on a much smaller scale. A shame about the tiler, especially when the end is in sight, hopefully September will co-operate and you (and I) can get out in the garden.

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      Well it’s been good so far, lovely day today. I hope for you as well. It’s a real struggle growing anything on the slope. In theory drainage should be really good but the clay puts pay to that. Shrubs do well. And grasses, hence so many (too many) of them, provided I can keep the rabbits off. It’s the flowering perennials that are the most difficult to establish. Once they get going they’re fine, but for the first couple of years they do look rather miserable.

  2. derrickjknight September 4, 2018 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Beautifully photographed with fine prose. Sorry about the bathroom, but at least it gets you into the garden.

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      A return to the garden was long overdue. But it would be nice to have the option of a long soak in the tub at the end of the day!

  3. Pauline September 4, 2018 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Autumn is definitely sneaking into the garden, leaves are turning and berries colouring up. I usually find my phlomis seedheads packed with ladybirds come spring!

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      I’ve noticed a real decline in ladybird numbers over the last couple of years. I shall be delighted if some manage to make a home in the phlomis!

  4. Sue Garrett September 4, 2018 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    Yes autumn does seem to be coming early. Our blueberry leaves are turning and there is still the odd berry to pick. Cyclamen hederifolium defonitely seem early in our garden too!

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      I love the colours I must admit. And the softer light. But the onset of autumn at any time still has a depressing quality about it for me. Early autumn.. no, not ready for that.

  5. Henriet from Holland September 4, 2018 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    It certainly is an extraordinary summer, here in the Netherlands too. I just caught our white rambler rose starting its THIRD blooming. Humbly but with panache, on three very long new branches.

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      Roses have been really good haven’t they!
      Today, somewhat belatedly, I set about deadheading the rhododendrons. They’re not my favourite shrub but they are absolutely packed with flower buds for next year. It should be quite a show. The benefits of the long hot summer could last into next year too.

  6. Archie The Wonder Dog September 4, 2018 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    That slider photo is amazing! I love the pink frothy haze – is that from a grass?

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      It is, it’s the Pheasant’s Tail Grass, Anemanthele lessoniana. I’ve just pulled out all the pink froth for this year because it does tend to take over, and seed everywhere, hence it doesn’t show up on the second photo. The original plant is still there though, plus its numerous offspring! The leaves have lovely coppery tones which go well with the autumn colours as they start to appear.

  7. Charles September 4, 2018 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    I think we will go to the autumn show at Malvern. I have not been to a proper flower show since Chelsea, more than 10 years ago so I thinks it’s time to have another look. Love the slider gadget but to me the precipitous bank looks good in both shots, just slightly different. I realise that I have just poured cold water on years of work and agonised plant location decisions, however that is what my wife does to me so the brutalist approach must be wearing off on me too, quite scary. Maybe I just like large expanses of plants?

    I am hoping to get down to Rosemoor , not sure of spelling but the RHS garden in Devon, before winter comes in, it’s all go now I have retired.

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      The brutalist approach is quite useful at times, Mike is also a past master. It is an evolutionary project, the bank, and moves along at about the same pace. Each year it gets a little closer to the ideal and while that process continues I am happy!
      You should go to Rosemoor, and soon. If you like large expanses of plants, and colour, their Hot Garden should appeal. You must have been to Hauser and Wirth at Bruton? That is similar. Maybe with more grass. It’s one of my favourites but then Piet Oudolf is a bit of a hero.

  8. Heyjude September 4, 2018 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    Your garden is still so beautiful. What is the plant with the red leaves with the blue geranium and grasses near the end of your post? It is fabulous. And such a shame about the bathroom. I bet you are itching to try out the new shower. We thought we were having our conservatory roof replaced next week. Turns out not. Now pushed back another two weeks. Sigh… life in the west country where everything is ‘dreckly’.

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      The red leaved grass is Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’, also known as Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’. Or according to the RHS it is. But this year I bought three Rubra from Crocus to bolster the clump and they’re quite different, not least because they haven’t turned red yet!
      Ah yes, dreckly. It’s a completely different world isn’t it. But if you’re prepared to wait, I’ve discovered, the tradesmen have hearts of gold and genuinely want to do a good job for you.

  9. Linda from Each Little World September 4, 2018 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    Looks wonderful. We are stuck in almost enless rain here and I want to garden! September is usually a perfect planting month here, too.

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      I do hope the rain subsides. It’s usually me complaining about the wet stuff and this year we haven’t had enough. Climate change has a lot to answer for.

  10. wherethejourneytakesme September 4, 2018 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    The Sycamores are quite brown now up here – must be the hot weather as all the other tress round about are still green. I am still in the late summer camp – not wanting autumn to set in fast as I was still enjoying summer. I know what you mean though about wanting to get on with the autumn clear up – we will be going up to Scotland soon to do just that if the bunnies haven’t beaten us to it – there may be nothing left to clear – they have been ravenous this year!!

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      The bunnies have been a real problem here too this year. But then they disappeared, almost overnight, a month or so ago.. I do hope it is the same for you in Scotland and everything has grown back! It appears I won’t be needing to spend quite as much time on the Chelsea Chop in future. Between the bunnies and the deer I get it done for me. 🙁

  11. germac4 September 4, 2018 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    Lovely post Jessica, I can almost feel autumn in the air! I love Hydrangeas in autumn and the white hydrangea is wonderful in all seasons. Sadly we no longer grow them as they need more water than we can provide. It must be very frustrating not to be able to finish the bathroom, but on the other hand you can enjoy the beauty and colour of autumn as you garden. The slider photo is interesting…such a great way to see the garden over seasons and years. I love the story about the squirrel digging up the lawn four times…. enough to raise the blood pressure…just like our cockatoos!

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      The squirrels are very busy at the moment. I was watching one today, maybe the same one, way up at the top of a tree probably 50 feet above ground level, looking to be hanging from the tail while it harvested the nuts with nothing but air beneath it. At least a cockatoo can fly away if it misplaces its footing!

  12. Kris P September 5, 2018 at 1:32 am - Reply

    Autumn in your garden is exceptionally pretty. I love all the color burnishing your foliage in warm tones. The snail on the Cyclamen made me laugh – are you sure I can’t send you a raccoon (or 2) to take care of that problem? We’re feeling the advance of fall here too but you probably wouldn’t recognize it as such. The weather forecasters are predicting the return of 90F/32C temperatures this weekend but they’ve already been wrong on that score 2x in the past month and I’m hoping the same will be true this time.

    P.S The precipitous slope is looking good! I can’t even bring myself to look at mine since it was burned to a crisp (again) this past July.

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      You know I would take a raccoon or two off you if I could. For one thing our squirrels wouldn’t have seen one before and they would certainly have a run for their money. I also discover raccoons eat mice..
      I hope you are spared the high temperatures again, you’ve had enough of that.

  13. Mary September 5, 2018 at 11:16 am - Reply

    It is great to look at your garden, see the wonderful variety of colour and blooms and think of weather that might at least be livable. Heat and humidity have not yet left us – temps yesterday reached 36; add the humidity and the real feel temp was 45. More of the same today. The only things growing well in my garden are the banana trees (huge). We usually dig them up in November and store them over winter (which can be as brutally cold as summers are hot) in the garage, but not sure they will fit this year as some have already reached more than 4 meters tall.

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      I do complain bitterly about our weather, but we don’t get those extremes. Particularly down in the south west of England it is (usually) mild and very damp all year round with a max of 25C in summer. This year though has been especially hot and dry and the preceding winter especially cold, well cold for us (-8C). The climate is clearly changing, but how? It makes it very difficult to know what to plant for the future.

  14. Rebecca R. September 5, 2018 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    Great photographs and I love the before and after picture at the bottom of the post. A great way to show the changes over just a few short years. Glad you bathroom is almost finished, even if it is on hold for a month. Our master bath is getting ripped up next Monday and we will hopefully have a new (and non leaky) bathroom in about a month.

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      Oh gosh, good luck with your bathroom. It is such a huge job. But it will be so worth it when it’s done.. that’s what I keep telling myself anyway!

  15. janesmudgeegarden September 6, 2018 at 1:36 am - Reply

    Despite dryness, clay soil and bathroom renos, your garden is looking fab, and I think you should be thrilled about your Preciptous Bank (I love the sliding pic) which is a lovely combination of soft and green. I know what you mean about the beginning of Autumn: I feel the same. I should enjoy it, but I know cold weather is in the offing and I do hate it so. We’ve had some rain(!) which was wonderful, but everywhere is still in severe drought. Yes, climate change. Yesterday I read that conifers in Sydney are beginning to die.

    • Jessica September 6, 2018 at 7:08 pm - Reply

      I wish I could send you more rain Jane, it’s been a wash out here today. I suppose it serves me right for saying September started well. That is awful to hear about the conifers in Sydney. One of the things I loved most about the city was how green it seemed to be.

  16. Virginia Atkin September 6, 2018 at 9:10 am - Reply

    IMHO this is the perfect time for some forays to NT properties, or Gardens of National Significance, where you could replenish the poor, lonely greenhouse … or not! And, you deserve it after all that renovation work.Do you agree?

    • Jessica September 6, 2018 at 7:13 pm - Reply

      I agree wholeheartedly. Our first outing will be next week. I have challenged Mike to come up with somewhere new and interesting, otherwise I will be dragging him off to a garden I have in mind.

  17. Charles September 6, 2018 at 9:50 am - Reply

    Briton is only about 30 minutes away, perhaps a bit further, so I have been meaning to visit but keep forgetting to actually go. I thinks it’s a project for next week.

    • Jessica September 6, 2018 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      It should be looking pretty good right now. Good restaurant too but you do need to book it, it gets very busy.

  18. Caro September 6, 2018 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Congratulations on getting your potted plants planted – but you know nature abhors a vacuum and with those plant fairs coming up …. 🙂 Precipitous slope looking very good, love the slider widget – I really should come over to WordPress, the themes are so much more fun! I hope winter isn’t rushing towards us; I’d quite like September to linger for a bit if that’s okay.

    • Jessica September 6, 2018 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      I’m all for September lingering, I can’t believe almost a week of my ‘bathroom holiday’ has gone already. And already I’ve been sidetracked.
      If you’re serious about WordPress please do read up on it first, or by all means let’s have a chat. Some of the themes are only available if you’re self hosted and that comes with its own barrel load of hassle and increased cost.

  19. Steve September 6, 2018 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Your garden is looking great after the dry hot summer we have had. I suspect you may have had a bit more rain than we had. Either way you should feel great about the progress

    • Jessica September 6, 2018 at 7:30 pm - Reply

      Quite a bit of rain over the last two or three weeks, which has made a huge difference. Not enough to stop the leaves falling early though. Today, in more rain, it looked more like October or November.

  20. CherryPie September 6, 2018 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    I think the long hot summer has encouraged an earlier autumn.

    • Jessica September 6, 2018 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      I think you’re right. It’s not often we see established trees and shrubs looking stressed down here. Watering has taken up a huge amount of time.

  21. Peter Herpst September 6, 2018 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    Autumn is definitely knocking at summer’s door but hopefully you’ll have great gardening weather. Sorry about the bathroom delay when you were so close to being finished. Oh well, the gentle unfolding of time will take care of it. Your garden is gorgeous and the change in The Precipitous Bank is fabulous. As to the empty pot ghetto, we all have faith in your ability to fill it up again so that it won’t feel so lonely and empty anymore.

    • Jessica September 6, 2018 at 7:36 pm - Reply

      Thanks Peter.
      I’m enjoying not having so many pots to water. But now is the season for bargains, that’s the trouble. What’s a cost-conscious gardening girl to do?

  22. plantbirdwoman September 6, 2018 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    Visiting your garden as it slides softly into autumn is a joyful treat and a respite from the day’s news.

    • Jessica September 6, 2018 at 7:48 pm - Reply

      Thanks Dorothy.
      We have an equal share of troubling news at the moment it seems. But for a little while longer, I hope, the garden is a respite. This summer was the hottest ever in England apparently.

  23. London Cottage Garden September 6, 2018 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Your photos are absolutely stunning. Thanks for sharing them.

    • Jessica September 6, 2018 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      Thank you!

  24. hb September 7, 2018 at 2:36 am - Reply

    A month before the tiler returns? I hope he’s worth the wait. Waiting for my project to start with some dread–design in progress.

    Your Precipitous Bank looks wonderful. Lovely photos!

    • Jessica September 7, 2018 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      Only he can finish it realistically. I just hope he comes back!

  25. aberdeen gardening September 8, 2018 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Autumn does seem early, perhaps it feels that way after such a glorious Summer. I must get some of those Cyclamen hederifolium. Bathroom hold ups, such a pain, he would have to take a month off rather than the average two weeks.

    • Jessica September 8, 2018 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      I started out with just three small pots of the cyclamen and they’ve spread into a good clump.

  26. Carrie Gault September 8, 2018 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    Autumn is my kind of weather and I simply adore the changing of the leaves, if it just smoothly flowed into spring afterwards I would love it. Thank you for such gorgeous calming photos of your garden, it looks fantastic – love that sliding mechanism 🙂

    • Jessica September 10, 2018 at 10:30 am - Reply

      Yes absolutely! I should love Autumn and I try to. And Spring is my favourite season. It’s just that horrible bit in between isn’t it?

  27. Sarah September 8, 2018 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    I do think Autumn is earlier this year too! Sorry the bathroom has come to a halt so frustrating after you had got so far! Enjoy having some days out and finding some new plants to buy and enjoy! Sarah x

    • Jessica September 10, 2018 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Thanks Sarah. There’s a few bits we can do with the bathroom. Paint the ceiling for one thing, if we can ever find the right colour! But there will be time for a few days out without a doubt.

  28. Chloris September 10, 2018 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    Gorgeous late summer colours and of course fabulous photos. I love the combination of the pink hydrangea and persicaria. My hydrangeas are a disaster this year. Perhaps it’s a good thing that you can come outside and play in the garden for a while.

    • Jessica September 11, 2018 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      The hydrangeas haven’t been a patch on previous years here either. Perhaps it was too dry. Or the Beast back in early Spring. A couple are barely still alive and those that do have blooms seem smaller than usual.

  29. Brian Skeys September 13, 2018 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Interior improvements on any scale do get in the way of gardening time. We are having a minor kitchen revamp in November, hopefully I can still escape to the potting shed!

    • Jessica September 13, 2018 at 10:35 pm - Reply

      Brian, use every potting shed opportunity you can get. It’s essential for recharging the batteries!

  30. Diana Studer September 25, 2018 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    Sigh, how frustrating to have an almost new bathroom.

    • Jessica September 27, 2018 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      One step forward, two back. That’s how it feels.

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