The Winds of Change

I’ve just come in from the garden, where the temperature has dropped dramatically since lunchtime. A brisk, rain-laden breeze has whipped up, carrying away summer’s last whispers. I fear autumn is finally here. This means one thing – it’s time to prepare the garden for winter and spring.

Stoic dahlias are plodding on, albeit with slightly smaller flowers now, and my late planted lilies are going strong. Fat buds of Lilium ‘Tarrango’ are about to burst open to reveal shocking pink flowers – something to look forward to next weekend before I head off to China. Lilium ‘Kushi Maya’ is making great friends with Dahlia ‘Twyning’s After Eight’ and Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ in a threesome I hadn’t planned, but which works well. The blooms of Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ have been tragically short-lived; they flopped and turned brown after a warm week and won’t be seen again until next September. Following on is the lovely single crocus, C. speciosus ‘Conqueror’ which has graceful, violet-blue flowers. I think I prefer the crocus to the colchicum, although the corms need more light and greater freedom than I can offer them. On the kitchen worktop, Fuchsia arborescens is doing a great impression of a lilac, forming a 1m high shrub covered in big heads of clear pink blossom.

Dahlia 'Twyning's After Eight' combines fine bronzy foliage with sparkling white flowers, occasionally tinged pink
Dahlia ‘Twyning’s After Eight’ combines bronzy foliage with sparkling white flowers, occasionally tinged pink

I had expected Ipomoea indica to drop down a gear as the nights drew in and cooled, but not a bit of it. Ultramarine trumpets are now coming thick and fast as this vigorous climber rails against the ageing year. Likewise, Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ seems to be throwing up gigantic new leaves with abandon. It’s not known as ‘elephant ear’ for nothing. The merest sniff of frost will reduce the leaves to pulp, but I shall enjoy their water repellent darkness while they last.

A dry day tomorrow should allow for some bulb planting. A box containing Fritillaria ‘William Rex’ is stinking out our entrance hall, permeating every corner with its special blend of fox and marajuna. I can’t see Tom Ford releasing this particular fragrance any time soon. Narcissi won’t wait much longer either and need planting now. No time to waste as the winds of change blow winter ever closer.

Still going strong, Dahlia 'Twyning's After Eight', D. 'American Dawn' and Aeonium 'Zwartkop'
Still going strong, Dahlia ‘Twyning’s After Eight’, D. ‘American Dawn’ and Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’