We went out on our bikes today and I was astonished at how many houses were draped with cobwebs and skeletons and pumpkins. When I was a child, Halloween with all its accompanying tat and begging for sweeties had not yet been imported from America. Instead we had Bonfire Night on the 5th November which was called Guy Fawkes Night and was always celebrated on the correct day; it never happened on the nearest Saturday or any other random day. On Halloween we were busy making huge bonfires and an effigy of the would- be Catholic incendiarist, Guy Fawkes who would be burnt on the big night. Instead of begging for sweets, children used to beg for a penny for their homemade guy which they proudly displayed. Where I come from in the north, the night before Bonfire Night was Mischief Night where children would indulge in a little light vandalism such as stealing wood from each others’ bonfires or hanging gates from lampposts. There were few large public firework displays, everyone had their own private bonfire parties and ate baked potatoes and bonfire toffee. Children were free to set fire to their body parts with Roman candles, rockets and bangers such as Jumping Jacks which sometimes jumped into the firework box and set off the whole lot. Whizzing Catherine wheels often escaped from their moorings to fly through the crowd to add a few more random injuries. I wonder how many injuries there were each year. Now of course, we no longer burn effigies of people and firework displays are carefully controlled. But instead we have to put up with Halloween with its plastic skeletons and children begging for sweets whilst their parents hover in the background In the UK, 8 billion pumpkins were bought and then binned afterwards last year. It seems an awful waste. So this house is a pumpkin and skeleton-free zone. Instead, let’s go into the garden and see what colours there are in leaves and fruit as we go into winter.
First some lovely berries. My Callicarpa is looking good this year, it is the first time that it has covered itself in lush purple berries.
The black -stemmed Cornus alba ‘Kessellringii’ has berries like bunches of eyeballs.
I had a terrible apple harvest this year and that includes my crab apples. But Malus ‘Princeton Cardinal’ hasn’t let me down.
I have a rare berberis which I grow for its amazing berries and although it is hermaphrodite it has been disappointing up until this year. But now I remember why I sought it out. It is called Berberis georgii.
This year is an amazing fungi year perhaps because of all the rain we have had. I’ll draw a veil over all the honey fungus toadstools which cropped up everywhere instilling terror and paranoia in me. But here are some of the others.
Acers are glorious in Autumn. I can’t remember the name of this one.
We have had several frosts but so far the dahlias are still standing and I am still gathering armfuls of them. This is Dahlia Cornel Bronze’ next the the glorious Acer osakazuki.
But let’s not look at flowers now, here are more lovely leaves. The Forest Pansy is gorgeous all summer long and she goes out in a blaze of colour.
Here is the best of several Euonymus which I grew from illicit seeds so I don’t deserve to have something so beautiful.
By this time of the year Ricinus communis has developed huge shiny leaves but I am always a little nervous growing it as it is such a deadly poison.
I have quite a few witch hazels and some of them colour up beautifully in the Autumn.
And talking about witches, it may be Halloween but I am safe from them here. The huge Elizabethan fireplaces in my house were added in the middle of the sixteenth century and each bressumer beam has an abundance of apotropaic marks which were marks made in the wood to stop witches coming down the chimney. There are also some by the door and some of the windows. So that’s alright, no witches can get in here.
Thank you to lovely Beatrice for the spooky picture at the top of this post.