In the Land of the Long Shadows

Autumn colour Killerton generci

Autumn is in full swing, the possibilities of summer are gone, and the chill of winter is on the horizon. But what’s happening and why?

In the Land of the Long Shadows
In the Land of the Long Shadows

Long shadows

When the sun is low in the sky, sunlight strikes the ground at a slant. The light is spread over a greater area, so it's less concentrated and produces long shadows and the hours of daylight are reduced. The fading light has a warm glow and the garden reveals itself in a new way.

Autumn leaves gathered from the garden
Autumn leaves gathered from the garden

Awesome Autumn Colour

Through the year the leaf pigments that appear in autumn colours are hidden by the green pigment chlorophyll. As the chlorophyll starts to breakdown, because the plant stops photosynthesising, the other pigments show themselves in a range of reds, purples, yellow and oranges.

Nymans fruits and nuts
Nymans fruits and nuts

Late bloomers

Photoperiodism is the physiological reaction of organisms to the length of day or night. Some plants sense the change in season and this can be a trigger for flowering. 

Dahlias are an example of short day plants, these guys will flower their late summer and autumn socks off until the first frosts and winter bites.

Nymans fruits and nuts
Nymans fruits and nuts

Fruit and Nut Cases

There is a bountiful show of fruits including berries and nuts which provide points of colour and interest, as well as being a fantastic source of food for wildlife.

Many seed heads are highly attractive too like fluffy Clematis and plumes of grasses. It’s also about survival of the fittest but plants can’t run!  Plants produce seed with different adaptations in order to blow on the wind, travel in water or hitch hike animals and birds.

Seedheads gathered from the garden
Seedheads gathered from the garden

The Wild Ones

Don’t be too quick to tidy your borders away, leaving plants for their attractive winter structure and for little critters to plunge about in during the scant days of winter.