Sarah Coles

Leaves, more leaves, different leaves

Nearly August.

There’s been rain – everything through its grey veil seems to quiver upwards. I stayed inside until it stopped. Outside the wooden water butt has swelled and closed the gaps in drying wood.

IMG_3298Here there aren’t enough flowers to shout, and the only reason the garden looks any good at first sight is the leaves – the variegated cornus looking pale and interesting, the shiny hands of the fatsia with pointy nails, the maroon flutes of Eucomis Purple Burgundy and the strange reds of Persicaria Red Dragon, and the all year gold of Choisya Sundance, and the huge balls and cocks of the fig leaves, the pale sea green of some herbs IMG_3699IMG_3342and the tree poppy.  And the fishbones of the Gleditsia, and the dense dark purple of the elder Black Lace.  And it’s the patterns their shadows make on the grass.

Unlike leaves, flowers must be inspected closely. They’ve evolved not so much to be seen at a distance but to lure the insects in, ladybirds, hoverflies, wasps, bees. It’s the detail that matters, the fine colour, shape, line and pattern.  And actually, if I look, the tree lilies are just opening, the trumpets wafting a strong and disturbing scent. Amazed they flourish on this chalky soil – Thompson & Morgan say neutral to acid soil is best. Henry’s lily goes from strength to strength with warty orange flowers, green at their furthest recess. And the lavender up the wall, ah, how I wish I had been called Lavender instead of my sister. All these only get sun from the afternoon, and then not a lot, still, I love them and they IMG_4819manage.  Even more amazingly, trachelospermum, still flowering, is spreading into the shade of the quince  where it glows in its very own constellation of Star Jasmine.  (Pundits!  When you really want something, ignore them.  Only got shade and pundit says Full Sun?  Go for it. Plant.)

But first, think of the leaves.



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