Sarah Coles

Green September


Why do people claim there’s no colour when there’s every shade of green around?  Just look!  True, there’s less variety – the buttercup leaves of Gleditsia triacanthos are now greened up with chlorophyll, and the golden Sambucus is mottled like a snakeskin, and the pale felted leaves of my whitebeam curl brown at the edges, but the others!  The Sophora (the Chinese Scholar’s Tree – love that name) is still a dainty umbrella of lozenges, and the marbled leaves of the cyclamen Neapolitan spread in little fringed circles under the trees beneath pink and white flowers.

Beneath its ripening fruit the fig leaves are sturdy, looking as though they will withstand winter’s frost.  Of course they won’t.  Why in the old days were they used to lend modesty to male nudes when IMG_3699their very size and shape provoke dreams of what they hide?  Heroic nudity was all the rage in classical times, then obliterated by  Christianity then brought back with a fig leaf in the renaissance.

I could go on and on.  The variegated Cornus, the yellow Choisya, and that golden stripy grass Hakonechloa Aureola (had to look it up to spell) (called it Japanese Forest grass said a Twitter follower) the ferns, the herbs!

The Fatsia japonica like some multifingered goddess, Green Tara maybe, is glossy.  When I planted two – from Homebase – I had no idea they would thrive in dry chalky soil.  The gold and green ivy I planted years ago to stabilize the dirt walls of the hole where the greenhouse was placed has romped everywhere.  Ordinary ivy grows on the birch – I pull it back every so often to reveal the white bark, with a giant metal spider from Chelsea.  Sometimes I find a green shield bug, translucent jade and so exquisite it could be worn on the lapel.  The lacy leaves of the Sambucus IMG_3682Black Lace are black slate, and dense, no light shows through them.  The yucca brandishes its gold and green swords, a distant focal point all year.

Some of the above will soon vanish, as will I suppose the ghostly leaves of the white lamium (I got it from the WI market, ground cover in shade, the lamium Hermanns Pride, and the purple leaved selfheal.  Persicaria Red Dragon, khaki yellow with red veins, is splendid now, as is the the dwarf sumach – yes it does sucker but not badly.  In the frost it will flare like fire, IMG_3681then fall in dark ash to the ground.



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