OCTOBER AT CLUNY.

Autumn is a wonderfully colourful time with loads of berries, hips, seed-heads, cones, and of course, a spectacular leaf change resulting in a myriad of hues and tints. Please take your time going round the garden making sure to follow the numbers 1 to 33. This is the time of year to LOOK UP and BEHIND you to see different views of colourful trees and shrubs! Remember to look out for the RED SQUIRRELS. They are always busy at this time of year.

TREES & SHRUBS 
On the lawn and in the gravel in front of the house there are a number of fine examples of Acers or Japanese maples. In early to mid October these small trees appear to be on fire with wonderful orange and red hues. There are a number of other very colourful Acers throughout the garden and in the car park area. The pale green leaves of Aralia chinensis or Devil’s Walking Stick are some of the first to change to bright yellow and orange and very strangely, once the leaves drop, the plant flowers at the top of the stick. There is a large clump of Aralia behind the plant stall as well as around the edges of the lawn and within the garden. In the gravel are self-seeded “Himalayan Honeysuckles” with pendulous racemes of white flowers, red-purple bracts followed by deep purple berries. The berries are much loved by robins and bullfinches. Found throughout the garden, Enkianthus, Azaleas and Euonymus are 3 groups of large shrubs which have striking red, orange or yellow leaves as autumn progresses. You should smell the Katsura Tree Cercidiphyllum japonicum with its yellow, orange and pink leaves smelling of burnt sugar in the middle of the garden at around No 12 and possibly at 29 depending on the breeze! Particularly interesting are the different types of ‘lantern’ seed heads found on all the species of Euonymus. As they ripen, they open to reveal colourful seeds again good food for robins. As the leaves fall, the colourful barks of different groups of trees such as the snake-bark maples, birches and cherries begin to stand out. It is also a wonderful feeling walking through freshly fallen leaves.

CREEPERS
The magnificent scarlet creeper crawling over and up many trees and shrubs in the garden is Tropaeolum speciosum the ‘Flame Creeper’ from Chile. Although some flowers remain, during October it is covered in blue berries. The plant grows from tubers and is herbaceous, dying back in the winter, growing from May onwards. There are fluffy seed heads of species Clematis throughout the garden and very attractive ones (still with some flowers in early October) of C. tanguitica on the fence at the top of the road as you leave. 

BULBS & TUBERS
Although the Giant Himalayan Lily, Cardiocrinum giganteum, flowered in July, its green fig-like seed heads and stalks up to 3m high remain a structural feature throughout the garden. Some of last year’s “dead heads” also remain and appear very like Venus Flytraps. Oddly it has been an early season for the different varieties of Colchicum (Autumn crocus, Naked Ladies) including the purple double-flowered ‘Waterlily’ and the white Colchicum speciosum album resulting in few standing flowers remaining in early October. The same applies to cyclamen.

HIPS & BERRIES & CONES                                                                                                             This is a good year for different types of berries including Cotoneaster, Hips & Berberis berries. Look out for the miniature rowan Sorbus reducta with pink berries on the lawn not far past No 1. Various other rowans occur including S. hupehensis-pink berries, S. ‘Joseph Rock’- golden yellow berries, S. sargentiana- red berries. There are a number of other different species of rowan and also cotoneasters with different coloured berries including black, glossy red and orange. There is a wide range of cones within the garden and you may see a number lying on the ground as well as on the trees. Common species include Sitka Spruce, the shelter belt trees seen well beyond the end of the lawn, their crowns covered in cones. You will be surprised at the small size of the Sequoiadendron (the Redwood) cones found at Nos 5 & 9. Douglas Fir cones are frequently found lying on the upper steps between 28 & 29 occasionally with the larger cones of Norway Spruce. 

HERBACEOUS PLANTS 
The elegant Japanese Kirengeshoma palmata with its tubular pale yellow flowers remains in flower during early October. A late-flowering very attractive clump-forming plant growing to one metre is Chelone obliqua with pink flowers shaped like a tortoise head. There are clumps of a bright annual yellow “Busy Lizzie” particularly in the lawn area which will die right back with the first frosts but they have been flowering for many weeks. Also long flowered are the white Japanese anemones Anemone japonica . A large drift can be found at the bottom of the garden providing some food for the last of the summer’s hoverflies. Gentiana asclepiadae or the Willow Gentian in blue or white, flowers into early October. The huge green leaves of Rodgersia spp. turn into yellows and oranges.
 
WILDLIFE
If you are quiet, you should easily see the Red Squirrels. They regularly feed on the feeders but are also noticeable within the garden busy burying food or racing around the trees. This year there is a good crop of beech mast so the squirrels can also be found on the tall old beech hedge on the LHS between 14 & 16. The garden is full of birds especially around the feeders – various tits, chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch, blackbird, robin and dunnock.  Within the garden you could also see or hear bullfinch, treecreeper, wren, goldcrest, raucous jays and Great Spotted woodpecker. Redwings and fieldfares should begin arriving early in October resulting in no more rowan berries! Geese (pinkfeet early in the month, mainly greylag thereafter) are regular overhead as well as buzzards and ravens. We do have hares and usually they remain very quiet and still but you may be fortunate enough to surprise one. Look out for stoats which can appear anywhere!

OCTOBER JOBS
There is still seed to collect; some will not be ready for picking until November. It has to be dried and cleaned ready for sowing or selling through our 2016 seed-list in mid-winter. Please leave your name and address/email address in one of the boxes if you would like a copy. We leave seed heads on many plants to allow a more natural type of germination in the garden. Weeding and mulching are still being done and we are preparing for the big winter jobs of leaf collection, tree extraction and path work. If you see one of us working in the garden and you have any questions, we would be delighted to answer them, if we can. Please take a look at the postcards of the garden in the front porch.