No Thanks to Flaming Autumn

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Guest Rant by Jane Scorer
I know what is just around the corner… I can guess what I will be reading about, any time soon…the joys of the autumn and winter garden, that’s what. There will be pages about flaming autumn colour, and we will be encouraged to buy certain plants for their spectacular hues. But why? That plant is dying back for winter, so why would I want to watch it do that? Autumn leaves are depressing and should be ignored. They are signs that the long days of summer are behind us, and I really don’t want reminding of that.

When it is November and the wind is whipping round the house, don’t give me articles about how architectural the dead grasses look. I want to see delphiniums and roses, things that are young and full of promise. Not things that are dead and decaying.

Berries? Don’t get me started! How many times on tv gardening programmes do we hear about the wonderful colour of berries, and how they enhance the autumn garden. For a start, any I might have last a nanosecond on the shrub before they are devoured by flocks of hungry birds, who then splatter my car with multi-colours, Jackson Pollock style. Take it from me, elderberries are the worst.

“Winter colour” is yet another myth promoted by people who have little else to write about once the summer is over. “Plant for winter colour,” they say, “to give pleasure in the coldest weather.” Well, I don’t know about you, but come the winter, I’ll be sitting by the fire with my feet up, flipping through a seed catalogue or two. I will not be down in the garden, in my wellies, scouring the beds for berries or the odd flower.

Also, like most people who work for a living, I leave work in the morning when it is dark, and come home – you’ve guessed it – in the dark. There could be the Hanging Gardens of Babylon out there and I wouldn’t be any the wiser.

No, save the colour for when we can enjoy it, in the spring and summer, when the evenings are long and light.

Now then, in the depths of winter, I need to be cheered and lured by the promise of the new season. So, photos of spring blossom will do nicely in October, and by December, I will be overdosing on the flowers of high summer. In the snows of February, I want to be reading blog posts about mowing the lawn on a hot summer morning, or picking tomatoes in the heat of the greenhouse.

So, just let me dream a little before everything springs into rude, lusty life again in March, and let me forget the harsh reality of the bare winter garden.

Jane Scorer likes to garden like she eats cake … compulsively, greedily and frequently. When she’s not gardening, she’s writing about it , and you can find her blog at HoeHoeGrow.

Posted by

Jane Scorer

on September 11, 2014 at 7:19 am, in the category Guest Rants.


  1. A true rant indeed. I am guessing you must live somewhere in the Arctic circle to be so upset about the forthcoming fall and winter! Here’s the thing about winter and any other unpleasant event…if that event did not occur you would not love and appreciate the good events. It is the yin/yang of the way things work. Can’t have the good without the bad…light without dark…you know how it goes. It would be like having Christmas everyday. After awhile you would hate it. To quote Dr. Wayne Dyer, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” It’s all perspective.

  2. Erm, not quite the Arctic circle !! Uk ! Actually, the thought of Christmas every day is very appealing! I guess I just never want summer to end, and would happily bury my head, ostrich-like, in seed catalogues, throughout the winter!

  3. Okay, Jane, I can relate a bit to the winter doldrums, but autumn? Trees ablaze with color? Pumpkins, dahlias, anemones, asters, that delicious nip in the air…and sorry, but I adore berries, even when they get eaten by the birds. My Viburnum nudum is adored in pink berries right now and it looks freakin’ awesome.

  4. While I do appreciate a colorful autumn show, I can relate to the part about plants that provide “winter interest.” For me, the show ends with the first snowfall. I have been known to stand at the storm door leading to the back yard for hours at a time, with a foot of snow on the ground, attempting to visualize the scene in 6 months time. And no, looking out at any lingering ice encased rose hips do not seem to help improve my mood much.

  5. I suppose if I lived on a sodden, dreary, mouldering peat bog as I assume all Brits do, I’d also obsess about that day in July when the sun breaks through and illuminates the garden for a glorious hour or two. Here in my neck of the woods, the sun has frankly been getting on my nerves at this point in the summer and I find myself cheering on a chance of frost tomorrow night. The whole verdure thing can get to be a bit much when the weeds top out at six feet or more and most of them bear burrs, barbs, an endless variety of Velcro equipped stick-tights really, all destined for the dog’s coat. Bring on the snow.

  6. Joe, there was only a glimpse of the sun for a second or two this year, spotted from my sodden, mouldering, dreary peat bog . Several people couldn’t even remember what it was. Good luck with your bear burrs (whatever they are) , barbs and snow.

  7. I have to agree. While I like autumn color and I love my “Aster” October Skies in full bloom it’s also a sad time because I know that the outdoor gardening season is rapidly coming to a close and I’ll be stuck inside the house most of the winter.

  8. I think if I lived in England I would also dread the onset of winter, but here in monsoonal, equitoral, steamy, exotic Atlanta we have glorious long autumns that last til Christmas and brief and cheerful cold winters that bring a little snow and ice but the daffodils start in March – so not a big deal.
    I use that period to catch up on my weight-gaining. If I had a longer winter, perhaps I’d become a meat mountain – so best to keep it a short one.
    Jane, I hope you’ve got a flight south booked for February!

  9. Love your post. Funny! Not my mindset, but I do tire of those “Winter Gardening” articles that talk about plants that bloom in the winter. When it’s 20 or 30 below zero and snow is 2 feet deep, I don’t think anything will be blooming in my garden. But I’m looking forward to the time inside. It’s supposed to frost here tonight, and I for one am ready. Bring it on! I’ve pesto-ed and jellied and deadheaded enough for one year.

  10. You are the perfect customer for seed and nursery catalogs. Often in the late 1800s the garden catalog would rephrase your sentiment in words like these: “I know you are anxious to see the spring color back in your garden. The catalog you hold in your hands is the first sign of that spring.”

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