The Late Autumn Garden

Shaping the Garden

Forming a triumphal arch into winter, November comes in with a bang, with fizzing fireworks illuminating, ideally, a starry sky, and the smell of bonfires recalling Guy Fawkes and his fruitless plotting. In the Cotswolds we have just had the first frosts. While the clocks have 'leapt' back, suggesting an earlier return to the evening fireside, there is still much joy to be experienced outside.

Once the deciduous trees are denuded the structure of the garden resurfaces. Hard elements such as water features and screens lend new architectural definition. Yew, Ilex and Bay, clipped into geometrical forms or trained into standards, are transformative, while berry-covered shrubs and late flowers soften dynamic lines.

White Queen

We suspect that Vita Sackville-West would have had Skimmia O'Berry tumbling from elegant containers in her White Garden at Sissinghurst. Rare and impeccably tasteful, the glossy leaves and pristine berries provide texture when much foliage is stripped back.

Pins and Needles

In November, the silhouettes of conifers come into their own, creating pace and depth in a planting scheme. Here the wonderfully bristling profile of a mature Araucaria araucana (Monkey Puzzle) and below Cryptomeria Sekkan-Sugi, its feathery foliage becoming creamier as the temperature drops, alongside intriguing Cryptomeria Spiralis.