The poetic view of autumn often start with the words of John Keats (To Autumn):
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit and vines the thatch-caves run ……………….
These lines remind us of two important parts of the season – our harvest which we celebrate at Harvest festival in October – and the drawing in of days. However, there are other key events of this most changing season – often compounded by changing weather, as we have endured this year – which blight our memory of golden summers or fresh and optimistic springs.
Autumn in the UK is timed to start in early September when the days are still warm and the trees have not changed; much of the harvest has been completed – at least in the south, although apples will remain on the trees a few weeks longer. Our garden vegetables are becoming exhausted save for the parsnips and wintering brassicas.
Scenes from Winkworth Arboretum
We start to tidy our gardens for the winter and watch as the leaves begin to fall in October – a process which continues long into November, usually, when the oak leaves finally give up the ghost. So that by the end of November, we have a deep carpet of leaves in our forests which now let in the light held at bay for the long months of summer and early autumn; the undergrowth releases fungi for a short hurrah. The temperature drops and in the North, the higher hills have their first covering of snow.
Glen Affric and Glen Cannich – November 2019
Edmund Spenser puts this well in his “The Seasons”:
Then came the Autumn all in yellow clad,
As though he joyed in his plenteous store,
Laden with fruits that made him laugh, full, glad
That he had banished hunger, which to-fore
Had by the belly oft him pinched sore:
Upon his head a wreath, that was enrolled
With ears of corn of every sort, he bore;
And in his hand a sickle did he hold,
To reap the ripend’d fruits the which the earth had yold.
RHS Wisley in early autumn
My memories of this autumn have been the often drear conditions allied to the saturated colours of our woodlands after the rains as evidenced by my recent trip to Scotland and more locally around Wisley:
And so, there we are – at the doorway to Winter!
Time has flown so fast,
we scarce had time to see all that autumn had to bestow.
What do you recall, I wonder?
Perhaps the days of an Indian Summer, or the rain?
Well we had it all, of course.
Sun and shine and walking in the lakes and dales,
Swiftly followed by rain and flood.
Perhaps you have gone into our woodlandsNovember 2019
To see the arboreal goodbye to the year
Or spent the time at home
Tidying your gardens in readiness of the frost.
So now its time to wrap up – and await the winter
Before we are cheered up
By the repeated call of Spring next year!
Lastly, some images from Wisley and our garden before the season changed:-
Scenes from the garden and RHS Wisley
So ends another season as we wait for winter’s trials.