I managed to fit in my usual autumn visit to Cambridge Botanics last week on a gloriously sunny day, so I was hoping for brilliant colour.
I certainly wasn’t disappointed by the wonderful Liquidambar by the (surprisingly empty) lake. Sadly though, the low water level meant that the usual reflections which double the colour from across the pond weren’t really there.
However, the resident ducks were very happy to sift around in the exposed soft mud around the edges. They made an entertaining picture gathered en masse under the yellowing weeping willow.
The ornamental cherry, Prunus serrulata ‘Alboplena’, at the ‘island’ end of the lake’s stepping stones was nicely coloured up too, but was rapidly losing leaves.
A number of trees were already bare, like this honey locust (above), but happily, that made the view of those lovely twisty, red seed pods against a clear blue sky even more intense.
Other trees seem to be very slow to put in their normal autumn display. For instance, the Parrotia near the Systematic beds (photo above) is still largely green… and the normally spectacular pair ofin the Autumn Garden were not even worth a photo this time.
However, there were other beauties to discover: For the first time I encountered this lovely plant, Acanthus senii, in one of the bays between the glasshouse arms. It looks familiarly spiny of course, but also a bit like a canna with that vibrant orange spike.
Another lovely bright red display is being put on by the gingers in the woodland garden. They look like they’ve had a very successful year (warm and wet I suppose) and are now oozing shiny red seeds.
Another cheering sight was a huge crop of yellow arils on the Taxus baccata ‘Lutea’ at the back of the Terrace garden. Seeing the golden ‘berries’ always makes me do a double take, as it is so surprising.
It has been a funny autumn for colour. Nearly everything seems to be running behind normal, with just a few exceptions. So, I thought I would end with a favourite, the Paperbark maple that stands at the end of the Winter garden, as it seem to mark a positive transition to the bare-leaf season! It looks joyful now, standing in a sea of golden leaves of surrounding dogwood … and that glowing bark will be there all winter long. Hurray!
Since I’ve referred to specific areas of the gardens, I thought that this link to a map of the Botanics would be potentially of use.