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Thursday November 15 2018

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Village Features

Autumn delights

Posted on October 30 2018 at 1:42:54

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Plant photographer Judy Lawrance shares her ideas on some colourful places to visit this season.

For once, we can’t complain about heading towards winter, since we’ve had a hot and glorious summer with the added bonus of a warm and sunny early autumn.

The growing season is all but over, leaving time to enjoy the warm colours of autumn. And what delights that brings! No more lawns to cut, hedges to trim or gardens to water.

That time spent can now be used for pleasure – days out with the children or leisurely strolls through the local woods. Although the brightness of summer plantings have faded from the borders, they’ve been replaced with a canopy of subtle hues, drawing your eye up rather than down. It’s such a colourful season – a bigger picture.

Autumn is all around us, like being wrapped in a comfortable orange blanket. Drive down any of the highways in Redditch and you can enjoy the display from the comfort of your car. 

Whoever decided on the planting for the verges when the new part of the town was built certainly knew what they were doing.

I remember, a couple of years back, pulling into Tesco Redditch car park, getting out of my car and being stopped in my tracks. The view in front of me was breathtaking.

The shoppers were going about their business, wheeling trollies into the shop, filling their car boots with groceries and checking their phones.

Couldn’t they see what was in front of them, an absolutely stunning landscape above the level of the cars, a blaze of autumn colour on the left-hand side of the store stretching as far as the eye could see.

A fiery mix of orange, red, golden brown and yellow, blending together, likened to an autumn scene painted on canvas. It certainly lifted my spirits on a drab, damp day.

These are the little gems that Mother Nature throws at us every year, without fail. The season is short, but beautiful.

AUTUMN SHOWS

The RHS Autumn Malvern and Harrogate Shows kick-started autumn for me, with tents full of produce grown by enthusiastic gardeners who have lovingly cared for their crops throughout the year, picking the best to compete – just for the fun of it.

This year, the “Biggest Vegetable” exhibits at the Malvern Show were eye openers, with leeks big enough to feed an army; two-foot-long beans and pumpkins the size of a garden shed (a bit of an exaggeration there, but you get the picture).

It was like walking into “the land of the giants”.

The competition dahlias in the flower marquees (my favourite place) all standing to attention in their identical vases, were ablaze with colour – from the shocking pink pom-poms of “Mary’s Jomanda” with their densely packed florets, to the striking red, semi-double flowered “Hillcrest Regal.”

A stroll around the showground took you past the numerous bulb growers, selling huge selections of spring and summer bulbs, many varieties of which are very hard to find elsewhere.

PARKS AND WOODLANDS

There are some great National Trust properties with a lot going on into early November so it’s worth taking a look on the website.

A visit to Charlecote Park at Wellesbourne, for instance, not only offers a beautiful autumn walk, but for children there are Halloween Pumpkin Trails during half term week, up until November 4, as there are at many of the National Trust Properties. Take a look at the unusual collection of gourds in the farm shop.

Croome Park at Wellesbourne is a great place to spot many different types of fungi in November.

According to the Woodland Trust there are 15,000 species growing in the UK with lovely names such as jelly ear, scarlet elf cup, honey mushroom and beefsteak fungus. After dry summers, the autumn rains start the fungi growing so there should be plenty to see this year!

Fungi like to grow in dark, damp places, in or around fallen, rotting tree branches and many varieties just seem to pop up through the fallen leaves.

Look out for fly agaric, the most famous of them all, identified by its bright red cap and white spots; they usually grow around pine trees. This is a poisonous one though, indicated by its “red for danger” colour.

Westonbirt Arboretum, probably one of the best places to visit in the UK in autumn, with 15,000 species of trees, has guided walks up until November 3. There’s an Autumn Colour hotline (0300 067 5691) to check how the leaves are looking.

A SEASON FOR THE KIDS

Autumn days are the ones I remember most from childhood, donning wellies, hats, scarves and gloves, kicking up the crisp (or sometimes soggy) leaves along the path verges, charging through the local woods searching for conkers, climbing trees then arriving home with rosy cheeks and more than likely scraped knees. Certainly not caring about the weather.

Despite the availability of more and more technology aimed at the younger generation, nothing much has changed; most children still like to do those things, in any weather!

The gardens that didn’t seem to offer them much in the summer when they were in bloom are now full of muddy puddles and are covered in crisp leaves – a perfect playground. 

The wide open spaces of Trentham Gardens is perfect for little ones to get rid of some energy on a cold crisp day, with a mud walk for the older children willing to get cold legs and feet.

My own children were raised in a small fishing town on the East Coast – we had the local beach but other than that there was one garden centre, two woods and a couple of parks.

When we moved here 22 years ago, we were overwhelmed with the amount of places to go for a day out.

We’re now surrounded by National Trust properties with all that they have to offer: unique and quirky gardens such as those at Morton Hall, Winterbourne House and Stone House Cottage Gardens at Kidderminster.

We have woods galore, hills to walk, a wonderful lake at Arrow Valley, garden centres by the dozen, and I have to mention BBC Gardeners World at the NEC once a year.

So as the days get shorter and the temperatures start to drop, it’s all too easy to curl up on the sofa and only venture out for the necessities. There’ll be plenty of wet days to come, but there’ll be many dry days for venturing out.

http://www.mikeandjudylawrance.co.uk 


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