Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Autumn in Sheffield

Our Sheffield garden has slipped from the dog days of summer into autumn.…but what a splendid autumn it is. We have had plenty of fine sunny days and are surrounded by leaves of gold, red and rust. We have also harvested wonderful crops of apples, chilli peppers and tomatoes – and we are still picking them in these last days of October. This first picture shows the garlic chives which have flowered in our garden for over two months now. You can also see the geraniums, sweet peas and calendula in the background, all of which are still in full flower.

I have been using the flowers we still have to create some autumnal arrangements. The picture below shows an arrangement using the last of the stocks and the pinks, with sweet peas, geraniums (someone told me that they don`t last in vases, but ours have done really well), scabious (just fantastic) and cotoneaster (so heavy with berries that the branches are nearly touching the ground). I have also used our eucalyptus and juniper as foliage. This is the first time I have used the pewter vase that I found in the French vide grenier this summer – I think it really suits warm autumnal arrangements, where it didn`t work so well with the light freshness of summer flowers (you can see apples from our trees in the background).

Mike gave me a macro lens for my camera for my birthday a few weeks ago. Just look what it can produce. These dark (nearly black) scabious are my absolute favourites at the moment.

In the spring this year we bought a selection of chrysanthemums at the RHS spring fair in Cardiff. All summer they only produced leaves and very long legs! But at last we are starting to see some blooms. This simple arrangement uses the first green flowers together with dark purple asters (gorgeous), scabious and garlic chives as a white contrast. I filled it out with foliage from our wall flowers (I hope it won`t impinge too much on next Spring's flowers!) and eucalyptus.

When we have our first frost (which must surely be soon) most of the remaining flowers will die. And as the nights draw in, my thoughts are moving to the arrangements I will make for Christmas. One thing I have decided to make is traditional pomanders. Essentially these are oranges cured with cloves and other spices. They were used in the sixteenth century to cover up the smells of an era without good washing facilities and sanitation!  Nowadays they just smell and look lovely – all citrus and spice which will be tied up with Christmassy ribbon. It takes six weeks to cure them – so I made a start yesterday. Here are the oranges with the cloves stuck into them. They are now sitting in bowls covered with ground spices where they will stay for the next few weeks. I will show you some more pictures of them when they are finished. In my next blog, I will have more ideas for Christmas.