OCTOBER AT CLUNY 


Autumn is a wonderfully colourful time with loads of berries, hips, seed-heads, cones, fungi 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 and high cones. Remember to look out for the RED SQUIRRELS. They are always busy at this time of year.

TREES & SHRUBS Please also refer to the separate sheet on Cluny’s trees. 

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 tiny 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. Sadly it has been an early season for the different varieties of Colchicum (Autumn crocus, Naked Ladies) and Cyclamen resulting in only a few standing flowers remaining in early October. 

HIPS & BERRIES & CONES                                                              

This is a good year for different types of berries including Cotoneaster, Hips & Berberis berries. There are various rowans including S. hupehensis-pink berries, S. ‘Joseph Rock’- golden yellow berries, S. forrestii  - white berries. There are other 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 

This year by early October, due to what might be an earlier autumn, there are very few flowering plants remaining. However at the beginning of the month a few Chelone obliqua remain. This is a late-flowering very attractive clump-forming plant growing to one metre is 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 are regularly on the feeders but are also noticeable within the garden busy burying food or racing around the trees. There is a good crop of walnuts high above No 13 and the squirrels are feeding and caching the nuts. Watch for them there in early October. The garden is full of birds especially around the feeders – various tits, chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch, blackbird, robin, siskin 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. The stoat is often seen in the area around the Big Tree at No5. This is an excellent year for many varieties of fungi – keep a look out for them!

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 2018 seed-list in mid-winter. 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.  


Acer
Acer