31 OCTOBER 1947, Page 17


WE have enjoyed—or at least experienced—this year a late and exceptional frost, two floods and three droughts. They have led to one of the most brilliantly coloured of. autumns. The generalisation may be permitted that the drier the season the brighter the autumnal colouring, and in obedience to this general truth it is worth the while of the gardener to induce what has been called a xerophytic habit in some of his shrubs, that is to give them a poor patch of soil, =retentive of moisture. The sumachs especially respond to such poverty ; but even they are less remarkable than the common hawthorn or quick. Grown in a gravel pit it is scarcely surpassed in splendour by any autumn shrub ; and this year, thanks to the dryness, it is up to its gravel-pit brilliance in every other hedgerow. Now that the first stiff frosts have fallen, autumn, like Tennyson's maple leaves, will burn itself away all too quickly, and those who wish to enjoy the spectacle have little time—or petrol—to spare. In most years St. Martin's summer ends the glory of autumn.