Friday, October 10

Hints of Fall Tints

I was listening to something on the radio the other day (or did I read it?) where a poet made an interesting comment within his explanation of what distinguishes "mere" poetry from great poetry. He said that part of the allure of flowers is that they are the beautiful proof of the existence of something living--something that is definitely going to die.

Autumn has always been my favorite season, and part of that might well be that I agree with his assessment. There is a poignancy in that fleeting life that accentuates their beauty, and the many tints and colors that plants take on during the last gasp of fall only serve to highlight that.

Cooler weather, for one, tips red the leaves on my doublefile viburnum, brightens my golden oregano to a fresh chartreuse, and frosts my purple sage with a pretty lavender shade:

It also causes new leaves to emerge from the tired heucheras that I grow in too much sun, just becuase I want them to be where they are from a design standpoint. Some autumn-emerging leaves emerge the same purple-green as the summer leaves, but many of mine emerge in shades of pink and peach:

On the north side of the doublefile viburnum, the leaves are more than tipped red, and they combine nicely with the blue foliage of the catmint that hasn't stopped blooming for months:

Sometimes, cooler temperatures and fall rains cause very good surprises. Mr. McGregor's Daughter and I have both found that 'Party Dress' Japanese anemones are more like groundcover anemones, sprawling over their low-growing neighbors with abandon. Between the rain and the cold we've had for the past couple of weeks, this is the most upright I've seen them yet:

I do have an oft-stated theory that the best way to get a plant whipped into shape is to threaten to remove it, and/or complain about it. I'm not sure if MMD's post about the truth behind Japanese anemones has helped my luck with 'Party Dress,' but it sure hasn't hurt. Here's another look:

One of the things I particularly like about fall is the way that disappearing foliage makes you notice and appreciate things in the garden that are obscured by flashier summer fare. In the "dry lock garden," I really like the browns of these rocks with the blue fescue and 'Blue Spruce' sedum:

And I love these dark little berries on my 'Skypencil' Japanese holly:

I even love 'Matrona,' now that her sickeningly sweet shade of first-flowering pink has deepened. She combines well with 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth, and a jolt of dwarf zebra grass causes a clashing that I would hate in June but fine interesting in October:

Lest we think that all is about done for the year, remember that there is still room for new growth! I needed these 2 'Midnight Reiter' geraniums, 4 'Key Lime Pie' heuchera, and 3 sedum sieboldii like a fish needs a bicycle, but at $2 each I couldn't resist:

I can always fit in sedums, and the geraniums will join another 'Midnight Reiter' that I think needs a friend. I'll be honest, though: I have no idea where to put the heuchera at all! I'm thinking that I may just sink the whole pot into the ground over the winter, and then dig them up in the spring to use in containers. Who knows where they will end up, eventually.

And then, there's this new plant:

This dark beauty is an orchid, part of my bridesmaid gift from my friend Meagan. I have it in the pot you see temporarily, but we also went to a paint-your-own pottery place to make official ones. I am both scared and excited to see mine... it's one of those things that will either turn out really well, or absolutely horribly! We'll see.

In any case, Meagan's wedding is coming up next Saturday, the 18th. I have a few things to get together by then for the wedding, and this is also my busiest week of the entire fall at work... so I will continue to be scarce on the blog. (Although I'll try to make Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!) I do have a lot of half-finished posts in the queue, though, so maybe when things settle down later in the month I can play a little catch-up.

Until then, happy fall! :)


Lisa at Greenbow said...

You have so many flower combinations that I find so interesting Kim. Your color and texture combos are outstanding. What luck getting those plants for $2each. I couldn't/wouldn't pass up a find like that. I hope you have a great weekend too.

West Coast Island Gardener said...

Autumn is my fave season as well. I find it rich and full of life and colour, like the crimsons and maroons of your terrific plant selections.


flydragon said...

Kim, I just love seeing your gardens. And that!!Photos are great as usual.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Just still don't like those pink sedum blooms huh? I sure do also love the dark reds now. And lovely first paragraph! I think this is also why fall is my favorite season, that and the temps and sunsets, and mornings even. I like to be cold on the walk in to campus and warm on the walk out--just like I enjoy being warm in the car but having cold air coming in through the sunroof. Anywho.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Lisa! I really couldn't pass up the heucheras, either. I figure that they'll find a home for themselves and then whisper it in my ear one day when I'm out playing in the garden... *grin*

Shauna, that's true! Rich with life and color... just what we need before things go to a long winter sleep, no?

flydragon, isn't that orchid a stunner? I've only had phaeleanopsis (sp?) orchids before, so I'm hoping that I can keep this one happy!

Benjamin Vogt, I thought of you, and also of Pam from the Microbial Laboratory, when they were talking about these things. :) I like to be chilly, too... the autumn wind is so bracing, and often brings that little bite of decay along with it...

Anonymous said...

Kim: Who needs flowers when you have those beautiful textures and fall colors? The orchid is beautiful. I love that 'Midnight Reiter' geranium. I think it goes with everything don't you?

IlonaGarden said...

You put together beautiful combinations. I love your subtle colorings (I think the zebra grass and sedum/amaranth reds are subtle). I think it is the quality of autumn light that makes a difference in how we see color at that time.

SMC said...

So many of the plants which looked tired a month ago seem to be rejuvenated by the shorter days and cooler weather. My Husker Red Penstemon foliage is the most stunning shade of purple and the cerastium tomentosum has not looked finer. I spent some of this glorious day just admiring these plants.

Angela @ Cottage Magpie said...

Gorgeous photos. And don't those $2 plants get ya? I keep swearing I'm going to stop. Any time now.

I love how plants and plant combinations I'd turn my nose up in June are really appealing to me now. Well, love and hate because now I need to make more room.

~Angela :-)

Unknown said...

Layanee, I definitely think that the dark-leaf geranium goes with everything! :) Unfortunately, this is my problem... if it has different colored foliage and a pretty form/habit, I'm sucked in... lol.

Thanks, Ilona! Hey, the zebra grass and sedum are subtle for fall, right? ;) I agree with your thoughts on the quality of autumn light... have you ever read the book about gardening with light and color? I'll have to go dig it out to tell you the author's name, but she had a garden in England AND one in Australia, and she spoke at length about the differing colors she could use in each, due to the different light in each place. Very interesting.

SMC, I keep wondering WHY I have not picked up 'Husker Red' yet, especially when I see pictures of its foliage... and then I remember that I'm not good with pink flowers.

By the way, admiring plants is always time well spent, no? :)

Angela at Cottage Magpie, thanks! I swear I'm going to stop, too, but those $2 plants... *sigh* I'm actually bringing one of the 'Key Lime Pie' inside to see how it does as a houseplant. Its zones are listed as 5-11, so I figured it's not too drastic of an experiment. And, like you, I'm running out of room!!! lol.

Oh, just to clarify: 'Midnight Reiter' was on clearance for 75% off, so about $4 each. The quart pots were the ones that were $2... still good prices all around for fancy plants, but I think I wasn't clear enough there.

And now I have to keep myself from going back for the variegated sea holly... those are still only 50% off, so right around $8 a pop. But WOW!

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

It's hard to resist a good bargain, isn't it? So we buy plants even if we don't need them.

Love that new orchid of yours, those flowers are beautiful. I'll keep my fingers crossed that your pot will turn out well.

Your garden looks great in faal, your policy of contrast in leafshape en colour is really paying off now!

Thanks for your lovely comment on Woof. :-D

Gail said...


Fantastic combinations. I am crushing on the geranium! Beautiful color and leaf form! I need the gardening world's version of Stacy and Clinton to give me a list of must follow rules while shopping at the nursery for my garden; they need to pop out when I fail to pick out the right look! "No Gail, you have enough of that leaf shape!" Barring that I wish I could take you shopping with me!



Chloe Marguerite said...


Love your photos of the autumn garden. And as always, I absolutely love the color combinations you come up with - very creative.

Chloe M.

lisa said...

You sure have some gorgeous combos there! LOVE the 'Sky Pencil' berries! And what is the cut-leaf plant with the anemone and hosta? I know you've shown it it a japanese maple? I can't resist a bargain like that either, and I don't think anyone should even try! There's always room for more plants! :)

Jessica said...

I just love all of the colors...complement each other so well! The sage is just beautiful!

Unknown said...

I feel the same way about Fall. My hubbie keeps saying the garden has never looked better. Maybe it's because I don't have to weed so much, or maybe b/c there's so little still blooming, I appreciate the variegation, textures, and form so much more. Thanks for the wonderful photos!

bs said...

i love love love your zebra grass picture! but, i would probably have loved what it looks like in june. my neighbors are probably not happy about the low standards and curiosity driving my garden design. but i don't know how they can stand looking at nothing but grass. maybe my yard adds interest to theirs as people pass in their cars... one can hope!

Pat said...

Purple,Peach and every shade of green conceivable.
Just love it.
Great pics.

Ottawa Gardener said...

Funny, I was thinking of posting about the surprising and beautiful changes in colour this time of year. My heuchera (can't remember the cultivar but common green) is patched with bright red leaves and the balloon flowers are the mostly lovely shade of gold. Looking past the flowers, fall is a season of colour.

joey said...

It's been way TOO LONG for a visit, dear Kim. You are one busy gal (and your posts are the best) ... I have missed you dear gardening friend ;)

Anonymous said...

Except...poetry continues to live, more or less (I'd need another glass or two of wine to defend my use of the word 'live' here!). I think great poetry is an individual thing - and great poetry often appeals to something intrinsic in individuals, something common to living things. Life I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Did you say you got a new camera some time back? Or, is it Autumn magic? These pictures are the best ever; can't believe I'm saying it, but like them better than the summer flowers. Great stuff. And I, too, rec'd orchids as a gift. (check my blog to see my "anniversary" orchid - you probably know what kind it is. I have no idea. Just dumb luck that it's still in flower!)

Unknown said...

Yolanda Elizabet, thank you--I really like the leafshape and color taking over now, too. The pot did turn out okay, but it really isn't my style... kind of too pretty! :)

Gail, thank you! I am loving that geranium, too... and I love your idea of Stacy and Clinton's garden equivalent! Although I admit, I would probably go ahead and override them if I found a plant that I really wanted, that they didn't recommend. Lol.

Chloe M, thank you! I appreciate your kind words...

Lisa, yup, it's a Japanese maple--that is probably the only thing in the front yard that is left from the previous owners! I was very lucky to inherit it. :)

Jessica, thank you so much! I love the leaves on the culinary sages, too.

Swampgardener, isn't it great just to appreciate and not have to worry about weeding? Maybe you're on to something there, by the way... it's easier to appreciate the leaves/textures/form without the flowers as a distraction. I would totally buy into that theory, now that you mention it.

bs, LOL! My neighbors probably aren't happy with the low standards and curiosity driving MY garden design, either! But I can tell you that yards like yours and mine catch my attention much more as I pass in my car than does one with just (ugh) lawngrass. :)

Patsi, thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment! I never did think that I would put so much peach in my garden, but I really do like it.

Ottawa Gardener, Oooh... I would love to have a green heuchera that would get dotted with bright red leaves in the fall. If you do remember the cultivar, please let me know! And I never knew that balloonflowers had golden fall foliage, either... hmm. I might have to investigate those a little more, too.

Joey, you ALWAYS make me smile! And I have missed your posts, too... can't wait to get caught up on your garden and your wonderful recipes, now that I have a little more time again! :)

Pam, no need to defend that--I didn't blink an eye at your use of "live" in that context. *grin* I agree with you, and I also must say that some poets, I appreciate all the more for the fact that their work appeals to new and different facets of me as I make my way...

westcobich, hello! Thanks for leaving a comment--I'll have to stop by your blog and look for your anniversary orchid, too. :)

I was borrowing the camera from work a while back, so I could learn how to use it correctly. These were taken with my own ancient (by today's standards) Olympus digital camera, so I'm extremely flattered by your compliments... maybe they look good because after 6 years I've finally figured out how to use it to its advantage?! *grin*

Cosmo said...

Oh I am SO behind. How do we know fish don't need bicycles? Do you ever imagine reversing the analogy--like, one fish says to another, "You need that bicycle like Kim needs more heuchera"? And yet, with the right bike . . . Ok, I'll stop, sorry I missed this post because I love the sentiment and the photography--there is something profound about the way plants get ready for their next incarnations. Do you think we can decode the message?

Kerri said...

I particularly like your sedum matrona shot with the pretty combinations. I had matrona last year in my sedum dish garden, and loved it in all stages, but, alas, it didn't winter over.
Aren't those peachy hues of the heuchera gorgeous? I planted one this year. Yours looks great next to the rock, with the sedum, etc. I love your $2 plants..all wonderful, especially that 'Midnight Reiter' geranium.
What a fabulous gift the orchid is. Your friend, Meagan, knows you well :)
I have some of those half-finished posts too :)

Rosemarie said...

I always love your photos because I love seeing different plants together and how they can impact each other. I always get inspired - thank you!

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