First sun on frosty lawn

It was almost involuntary… The next thing I knew I was outside in bracing but not bitter cold, camera in hand, on the first day of proper frost. However my guess is (I never checked) that the minimum at 1m above ground where we measure temps, was above freezing. And the sun was noticeably warm when you stood in it, and there was no wind to speak of.

Berberis in autumn

My favourite Berberis against the juniper was looking spectacular, although the Prunus which forms part of the composition was already bare.

Frost and mist over the dam

A fine mist drifted over the water as the sun hit the cold air. Several swamp cypresses around the Makou Dam are looking lovely, and the Chinese maples (Acer buergerianum) which germinate everywhere from the avenue of big trees in Flora’s Path are more noticeable now than at any other time of the year – and the inclination to weed them out is zero!

Chinese maple against the light deetail

They are, after all, only beaten by the Japanese maples for their autumn show.. The trilobal leaf belongs to the Chinese maple – the Japanese version has five or seven fingers. I love the gable and the brick pillars at the bottom of the steps which one almost doesn’t see in this photo.

Behind office -dry brush

Here again it is the Chinese maples that provide the rich colour. I was actually photographing the mauve Tree dahlias on the right, but by the time I had processed the pic into oblivion, I decided to really make it arty and give it a dry brush filter. So turn to the next pic to see the Tree Dahlias (Dahlia imperialis) which have only just survived the first frosts – having only started to bloom earlier in May, for they take all summer to grow their remarkable bamboo-like stems.

Tree Dahlias

Back to the Makou Dam for the next two shots – again of Swamp Cypresses (Taxodium distichum), a deciduous conifer which turns from fresh green to cinnamon. They each march to their own drum, and so some are just starting, whilst in the background of the lower pic there is a tree in full splendour and to the right of it two trees that are now almost skeletal.

Early autumn swamp cypresses

Frosted cannas and swamp cypresses

Canna ‘Phaeson’ is frosted, but after only a few nights of lightish frost there is still remarkable colour in the plants.

Frosted cannas

And the sun was catching them too beautifully!


Other plants too were looking splendid, but these are snapshots – having gone out impulsively I left both my tripod and my warm jacket behind!

Ground spiders web

The frost was melting on the ground-spiders’ webs as the sun hit them, but once again I took only snapshots…

Frosted zinnia

This photo of one of the frosted zinnias I mentioned in my previous post is of slightly more than snapshot quality though…

Frosted salvia

And I rather enjoy this last gasp of a pineapple sage and the subtle colours of one of my favourite autumn-coloured annuals, a form of marigold which one year ages ago completely dominated the garden as the young trees showed us a glimpse of what they would do in future autumns…

Autumn marigolds

‘Elegant decay’ might best describe these gorgeous antique velvet colours, but their subtlety was less – well, subtle – only a few days month ago…

marigolds in April

I finish off with a pic from yesterday, showing that the autumn splendour is not yet over – behind the Japanese maple is the row of Chinese maples referred to earlier, which seed so freely. To their right is Liquidamber formosanum, our first specimen and a tree which will retain its leaves in a near green state right through to very late winter. Beyond the steps some of those weedy maples give colour (hoorah), with the swamp cypresses beyond them. The rounded tree with yellow leaves across the valley in the arboretum is a chestnut and the spiky trees beyond are a close relative of the swamp cypress that go by the very impressive names of Dawn redwood or Metasequoia glyptostroboides! In the foreground the aloes start their display, and we hold our breaths for at any moment this display can be cruelly curtailed by a heavy frost…

Arboritum in late autumn



    • I was looking at the magnolias and camellias this afternoon, just-just holding their own against the minimum temps… for the time being… How lovely if we could go down to 2 degrees and no more. But I guess at over 1400m that is asking too much!

  1. The creator did a wonderful thing putting dahlias on a tree.Frost does your garden palette a great service. I only stop by when I have time to wander at will here and you never disappoint with your words and images. ‘Elegant decay’ – I might just have to borrow that term for myself!

    • 🙂 You are welcome Laura… I don’t think I can claim ‘elegant decay’ as my own either…

  2. Jack, As summer flowers begin to open in my own garden, these pictures of a frosty morning are a beautiful reminder of what is to come in a few short months. I particularly love the frosted zinnia.

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