The garden that welcomed us home had had a personality change in the week we were away. The borders are looking blurred compared with the rather stark, if bright, stressed-out look they wore: new growth has rounded and softened them, and new colours and new scents clearly mark the change of season.
Phlox, long delayed by lack of water, is now a major player. ‘White Admiral’ jostles with deep purple monkshood under a golden veil of the irreplaceable Stipa gigantea. Pink and white Japanese anemones are opening. Salvias bethellii (magenta) and Guanajuato (piercing blue) are clocking on for duty. Now it’s the turn of agapanthus, deep blue
and washed-out grey, Geranium wallichianum ‘Buxton’s Variety’, the slender spires of Veronicastrum and the flopping stems of willow gentians with their sumptuous sapphire flowers. A few rose hips are just turning colour, grapes have become smooth little green globes, Clematis flammula in white sheets has overwhelmed a Choisya and scents the corner by the garden door with sweet almond.
It is all potential and excitement again. Until it rained there seemed no future. Now autumn is on the horizon the garden has a point and a purpose – and the mower a job to do, though it will be a while before the burnt brown patches, the fairy rings and the eager suckers (above all from the cedrela, Toona sinensis) give way again to an even green.
So the sights and scents of mid-summer postponed and early autumn advanced paint the garden in unfamiliar combinations of colour. When we come home again – this time from Wales – there will be another change of regime.