Healthy plants for colour in November.

The onset of late autumn encourages us to look hard at the things in the gardens that are really earning their keep. Plants flowering or adding to the garden scene now tend to be extremely healthy and need very little care through the year. Here are some of the best plants in the gardens at Easton now.
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Cotinus coggygria ‘Grace’ with Rubus thibetanus ‘Silver Fern’ in the Velvet Border. ‘Grace’ is an exceptional smokebush cultivar for autumn colour.
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Colchicums in the Cedar Meadow. Although they are coming to the end of their flowering time and the slugs have had a little taste, these have been up for at least 3 weeks. This meadow is managed as a spring meadow and is mown from July onwards. When the temperature starts to drop, we stop mowing to prevent the heads of these lovely autumn bulbs from being decapitated.
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Perhaps not to everyone’s taste is Prunus laurocastus ‘Marbled White’ but to my mind, beautifully marked. For us, this is the perfect shrub, being totally hardy, disease free, offering something all year round, easy to grow and not attractive to our resident rabbit population. It is growing quite densely but I am hoping to remove the lower branches as it grows. This will allow light underneath and we can plant delicate woodland plants below.
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Rudbeckia triloba or Brown Eyed Susan. Technically a biennial this has flowered with us as a shortlived perennial. In flower for at least a month and totally unaffected by the frosts of the last couple of nights. This is still flowering in the long border with Aster turbellinus, see below.
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The last of our Asters to flower with a wiry but graceful habit, this perennial makes about 1 metre in our beds. The tiny buds  and airy foliage have been attractive for months but it’s lovely to see the flowers now.
If you would like to see these plants and great autumn colour, the gardens are open on Sundays in November for FREE!

The Beauty of Clear Pink: 5 of the best roses.

Every season seems to have its predominant colour combinations. Early summer here  means gentle blues, pinks and whites. The blue geraniums glow in the dusk and white flowers pepper the meadows and woods. The intense green brought on by the rain this year is the perfect foil for the pale pink roses.
Here are 5 beautiful roses, all photographed in the gardens this week:
Rosa ‘Constance Spry’
Introduced in 1961 this is the grand dame of David Austin’s best roses. She flowers once a year but in such profusion and vigour that it is worth the wait. The flowers have a beautiful form and scent. Can be grown as a large shrub or climber. We grow ours as short climbers on a north and south wall.
Constance Spry
Rosa ‘The Generous Gardener’ 
Named to commemorate the work of the NGS (who we open for at Easter). I pass this rose on the way into the office everyday (you can see it next to the trellis gate by the tearoom where we grow it as a short climber ) Its great beauty is guaranteed to make me pause in admiration.
Generous Gardener (2) Generous Gardener (3)
Rosa ‘Gentle Hermione’
A relatively recent introduction that is making a healthy show in our meadow. A tribute to its natural vigour; not all roses can cope with the cold and competition in our meadow rose displays. I am looking forward to getting to know this beautiful rose better. The picture below shows an atypical flower that is charming nevertheless.
Gentle Hermione
Rosa ‘The Windflower’
I love the casual blowsiness of this rose, it is good for informal areas. The petals are loosely folded and the flowers exude the kind of charm that carefree children have.
Windlflower
Rosa ‘The Mayflower’
Our big hitter. We grow this as a hedge outside the tearoom. The blooms lack the form of some of the finer roses listed above but what it lacks in detail it makes up for with the big picture…It is very healthy and flowers throughout the summer. We get the most requests for its name of all the plants in the garden(despite the prominent label)
The Mayflower

And while I am on the subject of pink. This is our dark elder. Sambucus nigra. I think it is ‘Black Lace’ but we also have ‘Black Beauty’  Shown here with the elderflower cordial that I made from its flowers. For the recipe see my blog at Fennel and Fern (due to be published June 29)
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The Giraffes arrive

In May I bumped into these two at the Chelsea flower show. For some time I had been looking for a sculpture that would fill the space at the end of the long terrace without costing a five figure sum. Being on the plebeian side of art appreciation, cones and helixes didn’t speak to me but these guys did. They arrived today and look perfectly at home looking dreamily over the park. I fear that, like the teas, they may become a bigger draw to the gardens than our carefully crafted planting schemes. Since I am mad about them already that suits me fine .

 

At 13′ tall this fellow could do with a name, any suggestions?