I suppose it’s inevitable, as more and more of the population moves indoors and experiences reality through digital media, that everything we take for granted now, will eventually become labelled and branded. So autumn is increasingly becoming the season of Colour. It’s an aspect of modern life I detest, but after repeated iteration who can be bothered even to growl under their breath when they hear the latest disaster served up to them as the ‘BBC News’. ‘No,’ I used to shout at the radio when the branding in question first happened, ‘The tsunami that has just hit Japan is news, pure and simple.’ The fact that it has been packaged and edited by the BBC does not give them control or copyright over the content, the news items themselves: that terrible tsunami was an act of nature and could never have been created by even the most powerful, over-paid executive at Broadcasting House. It was an act of God, if, that is, you believe in Him, or Her.
In fact, come to think of it, the branding of God and His subsequent commoditisation through the doctrine of Original Sin was the first great marketing triumph. The idea was based on the Bible, but was first proposed in a fully thought-out version by St Augustine of Hippo (354-430). It was soon taken up by the Pope, who, with his bishops and clergy, became the sales force who told their congregations that because of their Original Sin (which, of course, they could do nothing about), if they wanted to be given the chance of going to Heaven they would have to buy-in to their brand, the Church, lock, stock and barrel: they must follow its rules and, if necessary, they could start to buy their way into Heaven, through Indulgences and the funding of priests and chapels. It was a brilliant wheeze! And if the people didn’t co-operate, the future would be bleak, not to mention fiery. It was a lethally clever idea which tapped into people’s innate feelings of guilt. Everyone was guilty for the simple reason that Adam had rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, because he was moved by his desire for Eve, which perfectly natural feeling was described by one of my favourite words in the English language: concupiscence. And haven’t we all felt a touch concupiscent at times? Now how on earth have I got to concupiscence, when I set out to describe my garden in the early autumn? Oh dear, I fear I have been seduced not so much by desire, as by digression. Yes, I have digressed, and woefully so. Mea culpa.
Now where was I? Ah, yes, I had started talking about autumn colour, or rather Autumn Colour, as we so often read it in the gardening press. Certainly autumn hues can be very striking, but there is far more to the season than colour alone, and besides, the truly vivid leaf tones don’t really start to happen until there have been at least a couple of sharp night frosts – and as I write, there haven’t yet been any. Personally, I savour other aspects of autumn too. I love the transformation when borders are cleared-out and when hedges are cut (although we always try to leave a few flowers to form seeds, to feed finches over the cold months of winter). So I took some pictures from upstairs, first showing how the garden is suddenly pulled together by the freshly trimmed hedges.
That first picture, which can be compared with that at the masthead of this blog (taken in November, as I recall), also shows in the foreground the small white flowers of the wonderfully scented sweet autumn clematis (C. maximowicziana ), a native of Japan, but now a major invasive pest in several States of the U.S. Our plant was severely cut-back by the frosts of the last two winters, but is recovering well now. I’m glad to say it doesn’t seem to produce seedlings in eastern England. The second picture shows quite well how the hornbeam hedges are now starting to give a feeling of ‘rooms’ towards the centre of the garden.
My last photo is also from upstairs and it shows some early autumn colour and textural contrasts: the scarlet berries of the firethorn, Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ (foreground), a fine variegated ivy (Hedera canariensis variegata) on the wall, a golden honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida) hedge and, behind them all, the reddening leaves and berries of the native Fenland Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus, var. compactum).