Saturday, 26 September 2009

Mists and mellow fruitfulness

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

If I had to choose a season it would be autumn. I think summer is over-rated, all that vulgar sunshine and bank holiday traffic and the imperative that the weather must be fine or it's not worth the candle. Here in the north of Scotland, the last three summers have been dark dreich affairs, but as if the weather gods are kindly making it up to us, they send spectacular springs and autumns.

There is not yet the scent of cold and woodsmoke in the air that marks the official turn of the season. There has been no frost. But this morning there was a heavy dew, so that when I went out to walk the dogs the whole landscape glittered and shimmered in the thick yellow Italianate sun. (There is a quality to the light here that is very different to that of the south; it is denser, somehow; it feels like ancient Roman light.) Most of the country is still green, but the first leaves are starting to turn. The trees are putting out berries; the elders are heavy with black fruit; the roses have magically turned themselves into hard scarlet hips. It is at times like this that I wish I were one of those women who knows about preserving and making jams. My mother, who could do domestic goddess when the mood was in her, used to make a special delicious jam out of tomatoes when I was a child; I have a vague memory that she did this while wearing pearls, although this might be a fantasy. Personally I think one should wear jewels whilst jam-making.

Anyway, here are some pictures for you, to celebrate the greatest season of all.

The little yellow elder, the tips of its leaves just turning magenta.

A view of my autumnal garden. I planted that tree in the middle when it was two foot high.

The dogs, having a slightly regal moment.

The rowan and the elder and hawthorn hedge. When I first moved here, this entire garden was nettles and wild grass. A nice lady came and dug some great beds, put in some trees, and invented the hedge. Then I just started planting anything that took my fancy and hoped for the best. My idea was to make it look as if it all might just have grown naturally. Some people might call it a bit of a mess; I like to call it wild. It's a boho garden.

The marjoram, putting out its final flowers.

A spectacular elderberry.

The old-fashioned cottage rose, amazingly still in bloom, like an old lady remembering her glorious youth.

The mint, still going like gangbusters. Don't plant mint in beds, everyone says, it will take over. I ignored them and now it is everywhere and I adore it.

The rose hips.

These are possibly my favourite trees. I feel amazingly lucky that I have them in my garden. Even though they are traditional Scots pines, I think they look like something from the South of France.

A final, valedictory honeysuckle.

The avenue of old beeches. In a few weeks that whole line of trees will be dark red.

One more for the dog people.

A shy berry.

The first turning of the leaves.

The very splendid rowan tree, a great Scottish native. Look at the colour of that sky.


  1. Rose hips and cottage roses are by far my favourites.
    We went for a walk around North London today, and everything seemed to have been dipped into a golden gloss. I agree with summer being vulgar. I don't miss the sight of boob tube and fake tans either.

  2. Autumn is my favourite time of year too. Slightly melancholy but beautiful. Full of past memories and the weather is perfect. Love your Labs :)

  3. Wasn't that sky a spectacular shade of blue over the weekend? And the sunsets... I've been hanging out our bedroom window each evening (admittedly overlooking Croydon, but in the twilight you can't see) and as we're on a hill, the vista (a word to suit the occasion) has caused Anne of Green Gables' 'queer ache'. It's been glorious. As are your photos...

  4. So glad you are all loving the autumn as much as I am. And Wildernesschic: ESPECIALLY glad that you appreciate the dogs. They are my absolute beloveds, lab with a bit of collie, which I now of course believe to be one of the most perfect breeding experiments in the entire known world.


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