Photographing Early Autumn Flowers

If we are honest there are signs and hints of the coming of autumn that occur most years during the course of the average British August. So the recent drop in overnight temperatures and the cooler, misty, damp mornings should not really be a surprise. Here, in East Anglia, as normal, plenty of late-summer flowering plants are still going strong.

Sunflowers ‘Evening Sun’ and ‘Black Magic’ with ammi visnaga and verbena bonariensis

I thought I’d take this opportunity to cut quite a few blooms, gather them together in different compositions and take photographs as a record for future work. I love the colours, individual forms and the various combinations. In my backyard the sunflowers are just getting into their stride and I have so much ammi visnaga finally blooming (after a late start from seed) that it is beginning to look like a weed infestation.

(I couldn’t bear to bin this image, so I photoshopped the creamy white jug heavily reducing its brightness.)

In the bright light on the kitchen table where I usually have any current ‘jug’ arrangement, my loose sunflower bunch looked okay, but when I came to take more formal photos with a dark background the cream jug dazzled and distorted the composition.

Hunting around for something less white I remembered my mother’s copper kettle and switched the bunch to that instead. Annoyingly, in the process of rearranging the flowers into the new container several of the sunflowers dropped all their petals.

As I mentioned the other week the dahlias have been flowering well and the more you cut the more you get – my kinda plant! And, as you can see, the verbena bonariensis eventually grew to its full height and began to flower despite the less than ideal conditions.

Scarlet red decorative dahlias (no label on tubers but a bargain price!) with dahlias dark red ‘Karma Chocolate’, pink ‘Blue Bayou’, orange ‘Tangerine Dream’, and clematis ‘Polish Spirit’ finished off with a couple of sprigs of verbena bonariensis.

There’s not really enough hours of full sunlight in my backyard to create a flower-filled space bursting with colour. In all honesty I think I have been overly optimistic about what I could grow successfully.

Scented, old-fashioned sweet peas and cosmos ‘Purity’ – all grown from seed.

I did plant out the sweet pea seedlings in the best, sunny position available, the prime site. They have flowered reasonably well, but despite doing my usual trench preparation I’ve definitely had less flowers than I did from my old ‘suburban’ garden. I have a feeling I need to make some serious efforts at soil improvement this winter. That will mean adding garden compost to the depleted backyard soil perhaps with the odd handful of chicken manure pellets and finally topping off with a mulch. Additionally, any spare compost mix will be needed to beef up the small area at the front of the house too. No doubt by next spring I will be enthusiastically sowing flower seeds again optimistically hoping for a glorious display all summer.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

13 thoughts on “Photographing Early Autumn Flowers”

  1. I especially like the sweet peas and dahlias. Your arrangements are sculptural and very free, I think. The dropping petals reminded me of something from 30+ years ago – I was a bridesmaid in a wedding and we each carried a single flower (I don’t know what it was but large petals similar to a sunflower) As I got out of the car to go into the church, I tapped my flower against the roof of the car by mistake, just a gentle tap…half the petals fell off right there. All in one section so there was a gap. The poor balding flower. Since there was only one, well, it was pretty apparent – not like a bouquet. And being the shortest, I was the first bridesmaid up the aisle. With everyone looking, more petals fell off. No chance for me to blame the flower girl for scattering petals, she hadn’t come along yet. The bride’s mother was not happy. I think the flowers were tired out. Anyway, your description made me think of flowers, and how they go their own way, no matter what we want. If it’s worth anything, I think you are a wonderful gardener.

    1. Well, I do hope that wasn’t a bad omen for their marriage. I know some folk can be pretty superstitious. Yes, I think flowers drop petals when they were past their best at the time of cutting. Not your fault at all. My sunflowers had been in bloom for a while before they got the chop. That’s a generous comment about my gardening skills, thank you. But today I am a v. cross gardener as I have managed to drown one of my pot grown hydrangeas – overwatering, a rookie error if ever.

      1. No, they are still married 32 years later and three kids. So it was ok! I am sorry about your hydrangea. I think it is easier to overwater than people think. It’s hard to know when the right amount is actually the right amount, and some plants never seem to get enough water while others are fussy.

  2. They ALL look good to me. Singapore Orchids and greenery from the local market, artfully arranged in oasis, with the box stuck in a decorative bowl, is my addition to household decoration this week. I must say though, their happy blue -purple colour fills my heart more than the earthy-coloured proteas of last week.

    1. It is always good to see that people buy locally, especially flowers. I do like proteas as a flower shape design wise, but they are difficult to have in arrangements as they are so large and striking. It is possible to grow them here in UK, but they need overwintering in a greenhouse. I am with you and think that orchids are more interesting.

    1. Thank you for your warm praise. It’s the flowers that are the true beauties. The copper kettle is quite bashed about these days as it has been packed up many times (and not always well) since my mother bought it secondhand some time in the late-sixties.

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