Autumn may be the most wonderful time to enjoy the effects of light in the garden. The sun is lower and softer, and the result can be amazing.
We have anything but a flat garden. It does give visitors a good initial overview, and we are sheltered from the worst winds by virtue of a huge ridge behind us – to the south.
So my photographer husband complains about it every year. Photographers like flat gardens. They may be boring (flat gardens) but any available light will be there, and light is what photographers need and enjoy. It’s why they get out of bed at unbelievable times when the rest of us are still asleep. Anyway, having a huge ridge above us to the south means that in winter, when the sun is low, we can lose all sunshine for two weeks or more. And for quite a while it is filtered through trees on the horizon.
You need that sunshine if you’re going to enjoy the best of any snow or frost. Snow without sun is rather flat, and like flat gardens… boring. And it’s not only for photographs that that matters. It’s rather dull and disappointing for a spectator or snowman too. (sorry, ‘snow person’?)
You can see some of that effect here, where the sun has got into the woods:
So, it’s a bit of a shame in a way that a light lover like me has this dead time in winter. But in autumn and spring the sun reaches over that horizon and lights up the garden in a glory that summer never quite manages. Summer sun is rather too harsh.
When we open the garden we watch the weather forecast anxiously, dreading rain most of all. Rain is a bit of a killer to garden delight. But really so is bright sunshine, which can make it hard to really see and appreciate a garden. Never mind that at too high a temperature garden visiting can be exhausting. I hate heat!
Our openings are basically dictated by the times when people expect to visit a garden. In the UK that’s mostly Sunday afternoon. Mornings and afternoons during the week are close followers for groups – except at Veddw, where we charge extra to any party which tries to get us out of bed early. Yet, apart maybe from dawn, which I have no experience of, the evening is the time when the light is most likely to be glorious. It is evening light which gives us these amazing reflections:
And autumn, when we’re also closed, may be the very best time, the time when adding sun to autumn colour can truly take your breath away.
And look what sunlight can do to ornamental grasses in their late season colour:
But its not always about those glowing oranges and reds. It’s light which does this for us too:
Light is our greatest partner of all in the garden. No matter what we do, however well we employ our resources and create scenes of splendour and delight, it is light that will transform it all into beauty. The world is rather dull in our country until someone turns the light on. Then suddenly there is joy and beauty.
It’s quite hard to know what to do with all this when you have it. It can be quite overwhelming. I can look up from my desk and see sun pointing out the glow of a tree, as demanding as any teacher requiring an instant response. Or Pampas Grass suddenly illuminated:
It makes me want to wave my arms about, jump up and down or rush around mindlessly. I even take pictures from the car (as a passenger only..)
And would I have taken this picture of that bloke pruning a holly unless the light in the trees had set me alight?
I can love light in winter even with no sun the garden:
and I love those ominous skies with light breaking through brooding cloud in spring:
And when the sun shines behind a flower you suddenly see it quite differently:
I love the meadow in the early evening:
And in the meadow, the globes capture all the light in the sky, so that they even glow in moonlight. I haven’t taken photographs in moonlight though.
BUT the sun can be dangerous, even in Wales. So sadly this is a picture I daren’t replicate, having caused smouldering with a crystal ball once:
Is autumn maybe the absolute best?? Sorry, visitors – you’d have to book a special to see ours. But you probably have plenty of your own. Some countries and climates do much better than we do. What a treat.
The downside is that that low autumn sun makes the windows look filthy.