As the seasons change, so does the palette. Leaves become more important in our colour schemes as green chlorophyll is reabsorbed exposing yellow carotinoids and red anthocyanins. Berries and fruits, too, are more commonly yellow, orange or red. It’s a big show before winter sets in.
Some years ago on an October visit to Benmore Gardens in Argyll I noted a handkerchief tree, Davidia involucrata, bedecked in autumn colours. Thereafter it saddened me that the Crathes tree in the Rose Garden, whilst magnificent in June, is just a dull green in autumn. The tree by the three cornered green is likewise dull in autumn and probably grown from a cutting.
I was nosing about outside the Walled Garden the other day when my attention was drawn to one of the glorious scarlet maples aptly named Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’. Nearby a more muted tree with soft pink and yellow tones caught my eye, surely Davidia involucrata. My day was made. The Rose Garden handkerchief is noted as variety vilmoriniana, so I wondered if that could be the reason for the different leaves. Consulting books and the internet brought no enlightenment. If I was buying, I think I would purchase in the autumn so that I could be sure of the autumn colour – especially important because the tree takes some years to come to flowering.
Joanna’s photograph of apple trees in the nursery, taken on 9 May (see The Imperial Flower 24 May 2020), shows the nearest tree covered in blossom – the petals red on the outside and soft pink as the flower opens. The bees in the nearby apiary have done their work well and there is now a good crop of apples, but of what variety?
I took home some of the apples and spent a happy hour or so mulling over the possibilities. The apple was sharp to eat and probably a cooker, but maybe if it is kept it will sweeten. I find even Brambly cookers can be eaten raw if kept until Easter. After tasting, I consulted my lovely book – The Apple Book by Rosie Sanders, published by The Royal Horticultural Society (2010). Containing 144 watercolours of apples and identification information, it is both beautiful and practical. There was, so far as I could see, a definite possibility. Charles Turner owner of the Royal Nurseries in Slough developed an apple, initially called ‘Turner’s Prolific’, in 1912. The apple was later named ‘Arthur Turner’ after Charles’s son and was sold as such from 1915. The tree is described as of upright and vigorous growth with flowers that are red in bud, opening pink. The fruit is yellow/green with slight russeting, a short stalk, and frequently a pink flush. We would need an expert to confirm, because I see the Warner’s King that I photographed some years ago at Pitmedden looks similar. Meantime Arthur Turner is on my radar and I will look out for it in future. There is an increasing interest in apples, with orchards generally making a comeback and community orchards becoming part of the move towards local shopping.
I might well come across Arthur Turner some time; possibly when visiting Pitmedden or Fyvie – both National Trust for Scotland gardens in the North-East. Pitmedden has named, mature fruit trees around its walls and in normal times hosts an apple day in the autumn. Fyvie has a relatively new kitchen garden designed in the 1990s by Robert Grant. With an emphasis on Scottish varieties of fruit, including over 40 types of apples, it is now beginning to mature. There is an Orchard Revival charity that records orchards in Scotland and gives information on varieties that grow well in Scotland (including Arthur Turner). For those apple enthusiasts that live in the central belt, Amisfield Walled Garden, near Haddington, might be a more accessible destination. This community garden started some years ago in the eight acre eighteenth century garden that belonged to the, now demolished, Amisfield House. An apple orchard of Scottish varieties was an early part of the development. It’s over a decade since I visited, but it’s on my list to return and see how the apples are faring.
I was pleased to see that the Pitmedden Garden has made juice from its apples this year and that we can now buy it in the Crathes shop.
Catching up with the crab apples I had photographed in May (The Imperial Flower), I got confused over the Malus ‘Indian Magic’ and had to revisit the viewpoint to check for names. The photograph I took in July shows dark red fruits, but three months later the crabs have turned to orange. Maybe that’s the magic. The birds are not usually in a hurry to eat crab apples so they make good displays through the winter.
When I visited Crathes on 14 October the mist had just cleared and we were favoured by the sun. Cecilia and Helen (volunteer) were busy on the Double Herbaceous Border, cutting back and weeding. Tim was having an interview in connection with the apprenticeship scheme. I expect we will learn more about that later. Mike and Steve were making major inroads into the northern border of the Golden Garden. Always important in photographs of the Castle taken from the Golden Garden, this border was getting out of hand. Joanna took the chance to get some cuttings of the Buddleia globosa before it disappeared under the knife.
The grass in the Fountain Garden was covered in small yellow fungi of the Clavulinopsis genus I think. I like to ponder on the network of mycelium for ever present under the whole of the area, important in ways we don’t understand, and just producing fruiting bodies occasionally, not even once a year.
In the glasshouse I was pleased to see the passion flower, Passiflora mollissima, making a comeback – see Tim’s medal (15 March).
The next week, on 20 October, the rain had just ceased and the morning remained damp and dull. Cutting down and weeding remained the job for volunteers Sheila and Alyson, this time in the Fountain Garden. An enticing scent alerted us to the bodnantense viburnums which were just beginning to flower.
Although the leaves were taking on the garb of autumn, there were still flowers to be found. But with the clocks changing this weekend and the winds denuding the trees we enter another cycle. Winter, this year magnified by Covid, looms as an unknown. Despite Covid I know I will enjoy the winter garden. Indeed, the garden and the outdoors are crucial to my well-being.
Keep safe everyone.