Friday, November 16

Subtle Fall Color

Autumn has long been my favorite season. There is something beautiful in its decay, in the thought that the earth is going to slumber through the winter and then wake up again vibrantly in the spring. Many people think of spring as the beginning, of the time to clean and organize and begin their lives anew, but I have always felt that kind of energy much more keenly in the fall.
I had expected to show more fall color than blooms for November's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day but I was surprised to discover that lots of flowers are still blooming... and that many of my usual fall foliage stars are just beginning to change into their autumn wardrobes. For example, I am very sure that my oakleaf hydrangea was a deep, ruddy purple by this time last year, while the powdery blue sea kale in the front of this picture had bleached to creamy white.

The goatsbeard behind my trashpicked old milk can is generally entirely crispy by November, but only one of its branches has turned so far. The Japanese bloodgrass has turned even more brilliantly red, however, and the slug-plagued ligularia 'Othello' surprised me by turning a deeper green-violet on the top of its leaves. Generally, you only see that color on the undersides.

Elsewhere, more reds and purples are revealing themselves, but slowly. By winter, this 'Bressingham Beauty' bergenia will be a dark burgundy, but most of it remains green...

...while the tips of my new 'Efanthia' euphorbias are tinged in shades of wine and red.

2007 must be a good year for yellows. In addition to the acid yellow of both 'Sum and Substance' and my low-growing, unnamed blue hosta, 'Sioux Blue' sorghastrum nutens is bidding me a sunshiney good-night...


...in my little "fern grotto," the gilded fronds of Scaly Buckler ferns pick up both the natural wood of the new fence and the pink-tipped 'All Gold' hakone grass...


... and the sedum alboroseum 'Mediovariegatum' shows enough color change to ease my guilt at removing all of its flower buds in the summertime, thereby missing out on potential fall seedheads. (I grow this one only for the foliage, which I love. I don't know why, but I detest its pink flowers in combination with the pretty yellow-centered foliage.)


But the above plants are the exceptions rather than the rule. Even my 'The Blues' little bluestem is still mostly... well, blue! On my way to work, I pass a mass of bluestem that were incorporated into an urban planting scheme. A mere 10 miles south of me, they are already a gorgeous russet. Here are mine:


At least I have the neighbor's beech leaves to add a fall feeling to my garden. They nestle up to the retaining wall, leading the eye to a shock of red bloodgrass and soft background of woolly thyme...


And are artistically scattered over the 'Fuldaglut' sedum that should have already begun to retreat back into the ground.


All very beautiful vignettes, but... I confess, I want more. I want deep color on my oakleaf hydrangeas and for the burgundy laceleaves on my maple to turn a blazingly bright red. I would like to see whether I agree with what my amsonia tabernaemontana tags described as "great fall color." And some may think I'm crazy, but I really want to rake leaves!
So... here it is, November 16th. And still, I wait for the arrival of autumn.

33 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Lots of pretties. I really like the bloodgrass since I can't get it to take here.

Carol said...

Kim... I've got that same Amsonia in my garden, and by chance, the picture I just posted has it in the background, lower right behind the tree trunk. It is sort of a yellowish green right now, and just full of seed pods. I'll be interested to know what color yours turns. Honestly, I can't remember how it did last fall

Your 'true' fall will come, soon enough!

Colleen said...

Yet another thing we have in common---fall is my favorite season, too. I'm in full fall-color mode here in my garden--the cranberry viburnums are bright red, the redtwig dogwoods are donning their gorgeous copper fall colors, and my birch tree is littering my lawn with the most vibrant yellow leaves. Oddly enough, I still have zinnias and cosmos blooming.

I always love when you show us these vignettes of your garden. I always end up with more "wants" for my own garden :-)

Nickie said...

I don't think you are crazy, I love raking leaves too!

Meagan said...

Don't rush it Kim, Autumn is my favorite season too, and I say the longer it lasts the better. It always seems like fall is so quick that by the time it's here all the trees are dead and it's gone. I wish I had a window seat so I could watch the weather while I write my novel.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Lisa, I'm surprised that you can't get it to work there. I promise to post a few more pictures of it so you can enjoy it vicariously. :)

Carol, ooooh... I just went to see yours. I hope my a. tabernaemontana turns the same color yours is--that would work perfectly where I have it!

Colleen, add another thing to the list of things in common... when you show and talk about things in your garden, i promptly decide that I need some of them, too! (Like redtwig dogwood. Seriously, why do I not have redtwig dogwood somewhere?!)

Nickie, yay! A fellow leaf-raking crazy! lol.

Meagan, isn't your studio room like having a permanent window seat with that sliding glass door? :) And I don't want fall to hurry up and get done, TRUST ME. I just want it to get here already and stick around a while. *grin*

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Not so subtle color!

Tina said...

Wow, you have some amazing colors going on. Me, no color - everything is covered in 2" of snow.
:(
Can I have autumn back, please? Enjoy all that gorgeousness while you can.

Nan Ondra said...

An outstanding gallery of gorgeous images, Kim. I can't even pick out a favorite, because each is exquisite in its own way. You have such a good eye for composing photographs. Thanks for sharing!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Xris, lol! I guess that maybe it's a matter of perspective, huh? I'm seeing what wasn't there but should have been... *grin*

Tina, thanks! Speaking of color, I think you're still coming out ahead of me in that regard. (I didn't get to enjoy lovely blue pumpkins! :) Hope you find some autumn back...

Nan, thanks--very nice to hear from the woman who wrote the book. (Literally. *grin)) Maybe someday my gardens overall will look as lovely in the fall as yours do... for now, I've just these little vignettes. :)

jodi said...

These are great reasons for loving fall colour, Kim. I'm just waiting patiently--okay, not really patiently--for the weather to smarten up (as in stop being so freakin' windy and cold and/or wet) so I can go out and see what interesting colour is still around. You've inspired me, as always.

lisa said...

Ooooh! PRETTY! I'm digging the red grass by the milk can, as well as the euphorbia...and, well ALL of it!! Your garden is WAY COOL!

Pam/Digging said...

Your "studies in contrast" are stunning, Kim. Every one is beautiful. I'm impressed by how colorful and textured your northern garden looks. I'd love to stroll it in person.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

I think the colors are fabulous. Lots of color!

BTW, I meant to mention earlier that I like your new blog header. Very nice.

When are you going to do a blog feature on Coco?

--Robin (Bumblebee)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I agree - you want to do Fall activites (raking leaves, mulling hot cider) in October or early November. By Thanksgiving, everything is getting Christmasy, and the desired look is stark & snowy, not russet & showy. I'm suffering from the same feeling at this delayed Autumn.

Kylee said...

Kim, sweetie, wanna come and rake ours? We've got plenty to keep you busy all afternoon. And if that doesn't satisfy your urge, you can return next weekend and do it all over again. :-)

Beautiful pictures. Don't you just love your 'Efanthia'?

Layanee said...

Kim: Great shots all! Love your milk can. You can come here and help rake leaves. I haven't even started yet and the snow is about to fly!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

jodi, you guys really got hit a few weeks ago... we got lucky and ducked that! But we still haven't had much in the way of color--in fact, the maples are just now starting to color up around here.

Lisa, awww shucks. Thank you. Want some of that grass when I finally get around to sending you some seeds? lol.

Pam/Digging, thanks! Give me two more years (I have a mess to clean up from this year, and some big projects on tap for next year) and then come on up to Cleveland. :)

Robin, thanks a lot--I'm feeling kind of home-y and quilt-y lately, can you tell?! As far as Coco goes... maybe I'll do something over the winter. She does have some funny habits, but is not nearly as useful in the garden as your DeerTerrorizers! lol.

Mr McGregor's Daughter, EXACTLY! On the bright side, with the leaves just now turning I'm not feeling quite so bad about not having my bulbs in the ground yet... :)

Kylee... if I had more time during my upcoming visit, I would!!! (Yes, I'm that crazy.) And yes, I love my 'Efanthia'... I was waiting for the perennials to go on clearance to pick those and a few other things up, and I freaked out a bit when I realized that there were only 3 or 4 left on the table by the time I got there. I almost missed them! Needless to say, I picked up all of them that were left!

Layanee, you're about to get SNOW there? It's supposed to warm up here--close to 60 by Tuesday afternoon. That milk can is fun, isn't it? I have done trashpicking posts before, but I swear that most of my coolest things (the leaded glass window, the milk can, my radio-cabinet-turned potting bench, my wheelbarrow, my grandfather clock, etc.) are all trashpicking finds. *grin*

Connie said...

Wonderful fall colors! Your milk can was trash-picked? What a great find!

MrBrownThumb said...

I have a sedum similar to yours that I grow in a broken water fountain that is turning that same rich colors as yours. It has to me my new favorite plant.

lisa said...

YES!

Christopher C. NC said...

It must be the elevation because fall is definately over here. Most every thing that should freeze is frozen and my eye looks for new adventures.

You still have a lot going on in your garden and you are way far north of me. The lake effect?

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Hi kim, I wanted to say your photography is getting better all the time and I really enjoyed these shots. I know it is a local event but I compared the pictures of this year with last year (nice thing about digital you can easily compare year to year) and here in Connecticut we are at least 2 weeks later on a lot plants this year. Some plants and trees had their foliage frozen off green and after working 22 years in the same garden I haven't seen that happen before.

Raking leaves is like a ritual for me. Its okay for the first couple of days and then it is downhill from there.

Kerri said...

Fall came late and stayed late here too. I loved it! There were several late bloomers in my gardens, but we had 4" of snow this past weekend, so all that's left blooming is what's residing on our unheated covered side porch to overwinter (mostly from containers), and will be moved to an upstairs bedroom soon where the temps are warmer.
You'll have fun with that new camera!
Kim, I discovered that the Salvia Patens (Gentian Sage) that I planted is indeed a perennial, so I'll let you know what I find in the spring. I don't remember if Country Girl's plant was the same one or not.
Lovely photos here!
Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Me said...

Beautiful - warm and inviting.

Congratulations on the camera - you will love it.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Connie, thanks! Yes, it was... I was coming home from the garden center one day this spring and saw it sitting on the treelawn with the trash. Lucky day. :)

mr brownthumb, I like this one a lot. And when it finally goes dormant, there are all these cool, fleshy, grey stems left writhing on the ground. Very fun!

Lisa, lol, are you sure?! ;) Okay, will do.

Christopher C., yes, I think that the lake has an awful lot to do with it. I work about half an hour south of my home, and all of the perennials there have long since been finished. The lake is kind to us in the fall... but in the spring, it frustrates me by keeping us colder.

digital flower pictures, thank you! And I have noticed the same--but I think we may be up to 3 weeks later on some plants here. It's also been interesting to me that some of the reds especially are later. These lovely maples down the street are just now starting to crimson up while my oakleaf hydrangea is still just red-edged. Crazy.

Kerri, yikes! I'm not ready for snow just yet! Thanks for the info on the gentian sage... I'll definitely be watching to find out of it overwinters for you. That was so lovely that I'll definitely want to try some here if I can. :)

me, thank you... it does look warm, now that you mention it. And these pictures were taking with my trusty old point-and-shoot digital, btw... while I am sure that I can borrow that SLR from work sometimes, I'm still hanging out with my trusty Olympus for now. *grin*

Muum said...

lovely tour of your fall garden! I tagged you for a meme, come by when you get a chance and check it out.

Annie in Austin said...

Do you think you'd already have that fall feeling if you had a more ordinary kind of garden? The kind with lots of pale pink and light blue and delicate lavenders?

Your palette is autumnal and dramatic year round - and there are lovely changes already - oh that bergenia! But with your eyes so used to the contrasts, a change that could be striking in a more pastel setting would barely be noticed at Chez Kim. I hope the oakleaf hydrangea puts on its show for you soon.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

A wildlife gardener said...

What a wonderful array of colour so late in the season! Well done to you :)

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Muum, glad you enjoyed the "visit"... I have much more fall color now and took a few more pictures this morning! :)

Annie, I'm vacillating here... between pouting and laughing. I guess I think of my garden as being "ordinary" so that never really occurred to me... but I bet you're right. I do love autumn so it makes sense that I kind of gravitate toward that palette year-round... it might just take an extraordinary fall show for me to get that feeling of "fall" in my own garden as a result, because I have so many of those colors around already.

And that bergenia - "oh that bergenia!" is right! I don't know if I can ever get enough of that bergenia myself. It might be the most photographed plant in my garden. lol.

wildlife gardener, thank you! I admit that the lake helps me out a bit--without its moderating effect, my landscape would be a lot more bland right now. :)

Annie in Austin said...

I'd never want to make you pout! But the idea of Blackswamp Girl's garden being ordinary makes me laugh. If you put one of those polls on your blog your readers would probably agree.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Annie

Kati said...

How extraordinarily beautiful. And it takes your keen eye to capture it with your camera so that we too can enjoy. I spent a long time, lingering over each photo, just drinking in the rich colours! Colours are lingering on here too, even though nearly all the leaves are off the trees now, and we are getting frosty nights. There's a certain luxury in the deep colours of fall, even though our weather is so gloomy.

David in Greensboro, NC said...

I love fall too. All the colors are like the plants throwing one last big party before time to go dormant. Nice photos!

Post a Comment

One of my favorite things about blogging is the interaction--posts are often simply the beginning of an interesting conversation! So thanks for taking the time to join the discussion, and please know that I enjoy reading each and every comment left here. I try to answer as many as I can.