Another wedding in the family to garden for with happy anticipation. This time a September one. There should be no shortage of flowers in late September; it is winding down time, when we accept the tousled look of plants that have finished growing and are bent on child-bearing. What could be more appropriate?
The church at Saling is a hundred yards from the house, through a gothic door in the garden wall. The walled garden will be brimming with pink japanese anemones, pale purple michaelmas daisies and white cosmos, Cambridge blue bog sage (a good earthy name for the graceful Salvia uliginosa) and the equally graceful purple Verbena bonariensis. The roses will be in their second flush; pink Felicia, white Iceberg and pale flesh-coloured Autumn Delight, which at the moment needs support for its abundance.
Red penstemons and deep pink sedums, brown chrysanthemums, the turning leaves of vines and Euphorbia palustris, and the broad dome of the Koelreuteria above the churchyard gate door will be the warm notes. All this will be enriched with salvias, the autumn gardener’s standby. Bright pink S. bethellii will be chest-high by then, and I am anticipating wonderful blues and reds from the cuttings I took at Lochinch last autumn. S. madrensis, tall and yellow, partners tall blue michaelmas daisies, S. calcaliifolia is bright blue and S. ‘Guanajuato’ a shrill rich blue that calls across the garden. Clematis will enamel shrubs on the walls that have done flowering. Hydrangeas will be mellowing to indeterminate colours – and the apple trees will be full of fruit.
A reception in the concentration of flowers in the walled garden is Wedding Plan B. Plan A, for a day with no risk of rain, is to walk down to the Temple of Pisces and party round the Red Sea in the middle of the arboretum. There are no flowers here in autumn, just the mellow colours of late-summer trees, secluded in a glade that shuts out the world of roads and fields. Lucy once played Titania. I think she sees her bridegroom as Oberon.