More properly labelled Nuctenea umbratica, I stumbled across this darkly scary looking spider for the first time in the garden recently. Odd that it was the first I'd seen of it since apparently it's quite common. At first I thought it was just a natural variation on the common garden spider that I know and love. Indeed it looks very similar, but darker and more flattened and a bit wrinkly. It even behaves much the same, spinning a large orb web and sitting out of sight at the end of a signal line.
This particular character, poking out from the top of a shed window was quite the vicious little thing, aggressively attacking the long grass stem I teased it with. In fact in the picture it's running up that stem to bite my arm off!
Perhaps the reason I haven't noticed them before is that they don't sit in the middle of their web during the day like the common garden spiders do, so though you may see the web, you probably won't notice the spider.