Home in the Highlands






Autumn tree square


After a long, dry summer, I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of autumn, but as March merged into April, the record heat wave continued unabated. Finally, at the end of April, temperatures began to drop and we even had some rain. Great, I thought to myself, autumn is here at last.

But where were the autumn colours? And why were my fruit trees still green and leafy when only a kilometre away in the main street, the deciduous trees lining the footpaths were boasting glorious autumnal hues? Had autumn decided to bypass White Gables altogether?

I happened to mention my conundrum to a gardening friend who lives nearby, and her explanation was so obvious I couldn’t believe I hadn't thought of it myself. White Gables is sheltered by a ridge on the coastal side of town – that means the temperature is a degree or two warmer and consequently autumn arrives a few weeks late.


WG autumn 080518


When the much-anticipated season finally reached White Gables, it didn’t just sneak in like a tardy guest ashamed of arriving late. Instead, autumn made a grand entrance, transforming the garden into a mass of colour almost overnight. Suddenly the trees glowed yellow and orange. Rose bushes burst into flower after months of inactivity. Sasanqua camellias, inconspicuous during the summer, now produced a myriad of blooms. Even the poor rhododendrons, which had barely survived months of heat and drought, started to make flowers. Fortunately, they came to their senses and realised it was autumn not spring, and they had better stop flowering and conserve their energy, or they might not make it through the winter. 


Roses and verandah500

Pink carpet roses are repeat-flowering - just trim off dead roses but beware of the thorns!


WG Molly autumnMolly guarding the back door in the shade of the cherry tree.


WG Daffodil bulbs 080518

Autumn is bulb planting time.  I bought 100 daffodil bulbs from a lovely elderly gentleman at the local markets,
who was almost giving them away. 
After planting the bulbs under the pear trees
I began to regret I hadn't bought bluebell and hyacinth bulbs as well. Perhaps next year . . .


In the lavender garden the fragrant flower-heads turned a deep blue-purple, attracting a swarm of fat little bees which buzzed from flower to flower with such joyful enthusiasm that they barely noticed WGH* setting up his tripod and photographing them close-up.


WG Bee and Lavender



WG Weeping cherry

Weeping cherry and lavender bushes at the kitchen door.


WG White rose and lavender 2 480w 0518

Above and below:  Lavender and rose bouquets from the autumn garden at White Gables.


Lavender bouquets



WG Yellow Rose WG 480w 20180505A

The quintessential autumn rose in close-up. Pic: WGH


In less than two weeks it will offically be winter. Although I'll miss the 'mellow fruitfulness' of autumn, the prospect of bare branches silhouetted against a cloudless sky, and early bulbs sprouting from the rich basalt soil makes me suspect that wintertime will produce its own particular magic.


WG Mist small

Keats called autumn the 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' - he was right!


*WGH = World’s Greatest Husband – it says so on his coffee mug.


Deborah O’Brien

17 May 2018


Read more about White Gables in my Home in the Highlands Blog below. Just scroll down for:

    Finding the Dream House

    The Secret Garden

    A Tale of Two Chandeliers