Between late afternoon and dusk I take a walk – and whereas on other days the drabness has depressed me, today its subtlety has filled me with joy. So I concentrate on capturing the colours of deepest winter in my photographs…

1 The last photo first – deep dusk on the stones of the path at the Cottage Garden

The Beech Borders first draw my attention to the photogenic nature of the theme…

2 Beech Borders The Beech Tree and seat, backed by a semi-circular hedge of witchazel and lime

Then the seat, and the textures in the composition keep me busy – meanwhile the dogs are ratting in the tall grass behind me, unconcerned that the walk is interrupted.

3 Beech Borders seat I could of course claim that the colour scheme is considered and deliberate…

How could I a few days ago have found this sight depressing?

4 Beech Borders seat and hedge A carpet of leaves, evenly strewn, and soft light – a glow…

And nestling in this season’s death lies next season’s birth.

5 Beech twig Beech buds seem to hold more promise than most other trees…

And the promise is reinforced by the spiraeas, sporting minute flowers even before all autumn leaves are shed.

6 Spiraea flowers in mid-winter Each flower no more than 3mm 1/8in across

Whereas the memory of summer’s flowers are… well… faded…

7 Verbena bonariensis in seed Verbena bonariensis’s tiny but intense purple flowers produce plentiful seed

…Some less so than others…

8 Everlasting in winter Everlastings never quite lose their colour, the remnants of summer’s gold hidden in winter’s amber.

A lone grass seedhead sways  over the last leaves of the water lilies.

  Survivor of mower and marauder, strimmer and scythe…

The light off the Makou Dam is cold as moonlight.

10 Makou Dam And earlier in the week we saw four otters play in the water

Browns seem to be plated in silver…

11 Bracken Bracken leaf near the Makou  Dam

 In the arboretum the hydrangeas which once marched up the hill in blues and whites under a canopy of tulip trees now wear neutral fatigues.

13 Hydrangeas under the tulip trees - winter  Though even now their colour contributes drama …

Witchazel is Old Gold in the gloom – highlight rather than colour.And  the leaves are the richest deep brown.


Texture is all…

15 Seeds 16 Branches

Seeds and branches 

…And Mateczka’s colouring fits in perfectly.

Mateczka among the swamp cyprusses Here she is among the Swamp Cypresses at the far fountain.

Bark detailing becomes prominent, and the thin layer of fallen leaves and twigs contrast with the water in the stream.

17 At the stream The darkest of the Japanese maples has quite a different winter charm.

Nearby the most dramatically wintery of our many tree ferns salute passersby.

18 Tree ferns Almost evergreen in a frost-free climate, ours are decidedly seasonal!

Below I played with a different format – do you know how much purple there is in these browns!

19 Quercus velutina
20 Bench under Quercus velutina 3
20 Bench under Quercus velutina

Have I mentioned texture before…

21 Bench 22 stump

Bench and stump in Quercus Corner; a good rest in the furthest corner of the garden.

 Heading back towards the House that Jack Built I photograph the hydrangeas along Oak Avenue.

23 Oak avenue Is this what I really saw, or is the camera becoming creative with the available light? Fact is, the hydrangeas under the verticals of the trees made for an impressive composition…

Finally – well, near finally, for from here we move back to my first photo – we see the view from The House that Jack Built…

24 The bridge and halfmoon meadow I have always called the bridge the icon of my garden – and for the first time in years the half-moon meadow is cleared and echoes the curve of the bridge.


1 about to cross the Makou Dam

“Come on, what’s keeping you?!” Mateczka seems to be saying, and well she might, because never have I been this tardy with a post: yesterday these photos were a fortnight old. A very different world is out there – but, surprisingly, still damp and still no real cold – i.e. I don’t think night temps have been below 5 degrees Celsius. Here we are setting off on our walk and about to cross the wall of the Makou Dam below the Big House.

2 view across Makou Dam

Here we look upstream; the rounded yellow tree in the centre is the Water Oak (Quercus nigra) outside The House that Jack Built. Most of the colour in the above two photos is from Pin Oaks (Q. palustris) and Swamp Cypresses (Taxodium distichum).

3 Always a good spot to reconnect...

The bench under the Pin Oak is always a good spot to stop and stare. And the dogs cavort on the lawn or snuffle in the undergrowth when I sit here. As good as a walk, they say.

4 looking across to Big House through Acer forrestii

As we climb the slope to the Arboretum, the Big House and its gardens are framed by an Acer forrestii.

5 Camelia sassanqua and Doubly taking a rest

We climb still higher and Doubly takes a rest whilst I photograph the double pink Camellia Sasanqua.

6 Stompie is also getting very old but still enjoys a walk

Here it is again on the right; the red is mainly Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) and the yellows far left are the Pin Oaks and Liquidambars which one sees from The House that Jack Built. Tomorrow morning I must decide if my dad’s little Fox Terrier, Stompie, must be taken to the vet and be put down. I think not yet; despite pain and discomfort, yesterday she again accompanied us on a walk after a few days of not being interested. I used to fold her ears over her head and call her the Duchess of Windsor. She has always eaten like a horse but remained perfectly thin. Besides looking like the Duchess with her ears on top of her head (remember her odd squared-off hair style?) she always reminded me of the Duchess’ infamous words: one can never be too rich or too thin. Well, too rich we never quite managed…

7Acer rubrum I

Here is a close-up of, I think, Acer rubrum, the Red Maple, which featured last week with mauve azaleas…

8 Red flowers and red autumn leaves on an azalea

Many of the’evergreen’ azaleas feature the odd bright red or yellow leaves, forming a lovely chorus line for the main autumn characters. This one has some unseasonal red flowers to boot.  (or is that ‘to dancing shoe’?)

9 Autumn from the arboritum

Here we look out again across the autumn garden, the two tall Eucalyptus trees dominating, even with just their trunks…

10 a close-up

And here you see it again in a little more detail.

11 Looking across the Tulip Trees in The Avenue and up the valley

Here we look a little more to the left and up the valley. The yellow in the centre is the double avenue of Tulip Trees (Liriodendron tulipifera). Before the neighbour’s house, a tree from the avenue of Sweetgums (Liquidambar styraciflua) on our border can be seen  behind an avenue of Pin Oaks.

12 Pointilism as practiced by nature

In a close-up from the same spot – who says Seurat invented pointillism?!

13 Tulip trees

I always thought the Tulip Tree was named thus because the unusual leaves look like a child’s drawing of a tulip. Not so; it is the vague resemblance of its flowers that gave the name!

14 The last hydrangea of summer

‘The last hydrangea of summer’ doesn’t quite have the ring of ‘the last rose’, but this one from the planting under the tulip trees sure shows why I love the long season of interest the mopheads give me…

15 Framed 

From under a Tulip Tree – the middle ground colour is from the flowering cherry Prunus ‘Kanzan’ and a Silver Maple, Acer saccharinum.

16 Louis' Liquodamber and others

Most of this colour is from Liquidambars; those in the middle are near The House that Jack Built and the furthest ones are the avenue marching up the hill on our border towards the stand of Sequoia trees (Sequoia sempervirens) which break the horizon and which gave the farm its name.

17 Looking down on Freddy's Dam

Here is a closer view of the same subject, focusing on the crescendo of our autumn compositions: the trees on Freddy’s Dam near The House hat Jack Built. In the centre, the smaller, brighter flame is an orangeTupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) planted right on top of a yellow Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica) which seemed to be dying but revived the moment there was competition. To their left Liquidambars provide red, orange , yellow and purple; they in turn are backed by an avenue of Pin Oaks. To the right of the flame the rounded shape of a Japanese Maple is in the early stages of turning. Behind them pink and white Dogwoods (Cornus florida) and several different flowering cherries (Prunus sp.) also provide  magnificent autumn colour, as do several different Berberis, Spiraea, Viburnum and an Amelanchier. For now you’ll have to believe me when I mention all this profusion!

18 The road from which many people first see The House that Jack Built

Now we’ve dropped down to the road below the arboretum; here we are in the area across the dam from The House that Jack Built, with maples and flowering cherries providing most of the colour.

18b Cercidiphyllum japonicum

Nearby the Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) has the unusual distinction of autumn leaves which smell of burnt sugar… candyfloss comes to mind for most people!

19 The road upstream from Freddy's Dam 

As we move upstream along the road, we see a magnificent Prunus subhirtella pendula surrounded by several fine examples of Acer palmatum atropurpureum group which show various levels of red in their leaves through the seasons, and all turn in different ways in autumn.

20 Close-up of Nyssa leaves

Near here is a fine example of Nyssa sylvatica which I grew from seed – one of the most mouth-watering of all autumn trees.

21 Dogs exploring

The stream is just visible beneath the weeping cherry, the dogs explore, waiting for me to speed up, and my favourite red-leaved plane is showing further down the road.

22 And Doubly following at his own pace

And Doubly follows at his own pace…

23 Red plane leaves

The autumn leaves of a Plane ( Platanus x hispanica)  are usually yellowish. This strong red leaf I found amongst hundreds of typical trees in a nursery  far from Sequoia one autumn. I picked it up nonchalantly, hoping no-one would notice what a treasure I had just collected… it starts to turn in mid-Feb and still has a few leaves at the end of May… nowhere in the literature is a red-leaved plane that grows so strongly recorded…

24 Heading back towards Freddy's Dam

Now we double back to capture the view across the dam…

25 View from the bridge

And eventually I capture the piece de resistance from the bridge, whilst the thirsty dogs create ripples on the water… to see the view from The House that Jack built, go back to my post from two weeks ago.