Fall vs autumn in an English October

I’ve always loved – and preferred – the American usage of ‘fall’ for autumn.

Why use a highfalutin’ French (and before that, Latin) word, when there’s a good old, solid description of what actually happens to the curling, russet, golden, browning leaves as they relinquish their grip in the face of an advancing winter?RHS Garden Harlow Carr

Not only that, ‘fall’ turns out to be English after all – one of those words in general use in 16th-century England that found its way across the ocean with the intrepid colonists and settlers. Plain, straight-talking people who continued to call a fall of leaves simply that – a fall – while the effete Mother Country adopted fancy French ways in order to show how refined it was.

So fall it is – and how could you think anything else, as you make your way around a leaf-bound woodland, rustling your feet and kicking up crackling drifts of nature’s paper?RHS Garden Harlow Carr

These amazing leaves – and colours – were all on show at the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Harlow Carr, outside the Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate. It’s refined and respectable, in the way that England often is, but it’s also full of vitality and most definitely not genteel.

It’s one of the most magnificent gardens I know, and while spring here is energising and summer delightful, it’s fall – the literal fall, which carpets the ground – that turns decline and decay into something truly magnificent.

Want to see more gardens and fall colours?
Autumn in central Portugal adds dazzling blue skies into the mix
In alarming Alnwick Garden, you never quite know what you’ll find
Glasgow’s fantastical botanical is a tropical corner of Scotland


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