When The Colors Sing


Even as the sun is hidden, the winds are gusting and the highs for the day plummet to well below the recent lows, these circumstances have an upside effect. The foliage and flower colors begin a chorus of uplifting voices.


As the end of most color in the gardens gets closer, those that are left raise notes of gold and russet, well illustrated by the Fothergilla gardenii. To read a post about this wonderful native shrub, click here.


Without the bright rays of the sun, daytime becomes as dusk and the moisture enhances hues.


Leaves are falling, sweaters and scarves are needed, autumn is officially here. In the background, witch hazel Diane, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ is singing long and low.


The yellow button mum, an unknown cultivar from Mouse Creek Nursery that usually blooms much later than the sheffies has decided to join in the singing this year.


Aster oblongifolius ‘October Blue Skies’ is like a misty watercolor along the driveway. Even the concrete becomes beautiful if we squint our eyes just right and release those preconcieved notions of what is pretty and what is not.


This stalk of Lilium ‘Pink Perfection’ is a beacon of brilliance. Some of the lilies brown and crumple immediately after blooming, others stand erect and fade gracefully into that good night.


The little weed, er wildflower Acalypha virginica var. rhomboidea, written about here, has become a crimson candelabra in these conditions. This really should be grown in every garden.


Going around to the front yard, the weeping blue atlas cedar can be seen flanked by Cornus sanguinea ‘Arctic Sun’ oddly in flower on the green new growth as the older leaves have turned and are falling. Just beyond this scene, the pink muhly is winding down.


The big show stopping number of Muhlenbergia capillaris is turning down the volume. It is still attractive and will remain so, shining pinkly on sunny days and becoming more subdued as it turns to palomino pony. It will still gallup along well into the next year when it will be cut to the ground to begin the saga all over again.

Frances

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15 Responses to When The Colors Sing

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Such brilliant fall foliage Frances. It is an exciting time in the garden. One appreciates these last colors beaming or singing if you will… Have a great weekend.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. These last days before the leaves fall are so gorgeous, it brings a smile. You too, have a lovely weekend.
    Frances

  2. Cyndi says:

    Your gardens are still so full of color! Ours are fading fast now, I still have very little blooming but I cherish their blooms. The leaves are covering everything with a blanket of golds, and browns. I have been mulching them but I think it will be a never ending process with the forest all around us. Thanks for the ID’s you share, I am learning! Smiles, Cyndi

    Hi Cyndi, thanks and smiles back to you. The mums remain for the busy pollinators a bit longer here, the leaves are falling and covering the gardens. We cherish these last moments as the last few notes are whispered.
    Frances

  3. Your linked to post with more detail about the Acalypha virginica was fascinating. I have noticed it popping up uninvited in my garden through the years and always treated it as an unwelcome invader. Although, I do admit, its burnished copper glow always makes a positive impression. You are so right that it needs a pr campaign to improve its standing. I guess if a little genetic tweaking could be done by Proven Winners and they could give it an alluring name and charge $$$ for it, then every gardener would start coveting it.

    Thanks for understanding the way of it, Michaele. These little *weeds* can be enchanting and simply because they pop up for free are often not highly thought of. This plant, an annual that reseeds but not too aggressively has such great possibilities. All it needs is a fancy name, something edible sells well, it seems.
    Frances

  4. Leslie says:

    I always feel like I learn so much reading your blog. I get so many ideas for plants I’d like to try. My favorites in this post are your “crimson candelabra” (love that description) and the fothergilla, of course.

    Thank you, Leslie, for taking the time to read and comment on my posts. That you are learning something new makes me so very happy, that is the intent. I am so glad you liked the little annual Acalypha, it is a very worthy garden denizen and should be grown and loved by gardeners. The fothergilla has gotten better press, but is still much underplanted.
    Frances

  5. Lola says:

    Such gorgeous color yet in your garden. That old cold weather is on it’s way. It will make our gardens look so much different. Love it.

    Thanks Lola. It is pretty still here, although the killing frost has been through and done its deeds. Mums continue despite the cold and the fall foliage is still going strong.
    Frances

  6. Anne Boykin says:

    Hi Frances, Your garden is so beautiful! Thank you for your lovely blog.

    Hi Anne, thanks so much for those kind words and reading.
    Frances

  7. I can’t believe that yellow mum usually blooms later than the Sheffies. The Sheffies are pushing it here and will probably be dusted with snow this weekend.

    They can take the snow, Kathy. Sometimes the yellow button mum is still blooming at Christmas here. I have never seen it bloom so early, in fact. I don’t know what that means!
    Frances

  8. Alison says:

    Our notion of what’s pretty really takes a pounding when fall arrives, especially here, where everything is heavily water-logged and mushy from the return of fall rain.

    Hi Alison, that does sound like a challenge. But I do believe that beauty is a matter of perception, and can be found in nearly everything if we look at it the right way.
    Frances

  9. Dee A. Nash says:

    I have that little weed. It grows all over the partial shade garden. I pull a lot of it, but always miss some. I have another weed which is much, much worse. That one is pretty in fall. Love your other plants Faire. I might try Fothergilla again.

    Hi Dee, thanks for stopping by here. I used to pull that little weed, and other things that grow so well here without any care at all. I have been allowing more and more of the pretty ones, and this certainly qualifies, remain. Why was I struggling to grow things that didn’t want to be here where there are plants like this that simply show up?
    Frances

  10. The Fothergilla is stunning, as are the Mums and Asters. And the Muhly grass–for some reason, I’m falling in love with it this year! Time to find a place for it!

    Hi PP, thanks for visiting. The muhly grass is not having its best year this time around for some reason, it seems a little thin. But if you are zoned to grow it, give it a try!
    Frances

  11. Layanee says:

    No carousel pony was ever as naturally colorful as your Muhly grass. I love it.

    Hi Layanee, thanks for visiting. The muhly is like a carnival ride in the excitement it gives.
    Frances

  12. I love the asters with the Muhlenbergia.

    Hi Garden IAC, thanks. That combo has proven to be a good one, since those plants both bloom pretty much together in the fall and like the same conditions. Both has even self seeded, too, free plants!
    Frances

  13. Brilliant colors!! Ours is a little crunchy….or naked because of having been crunchy. Hope my Fothergillas get larger — they are tiny little sticks….someday they will be colorful and glorious in the fall.

    Hi Janet, thanks. These Fothergillas started out as sticks, too, and grew much too large while my back was turned. I have to prune them back every other year so they don’t block the view of the shed, being careful with the timing so I don’t lose the flowers. Sometimes, like this year, the weather was unfavorable to the flowers anyway. But the point is, keep an eye on yours, tip them a little for bushiness right after blooming.
    Frances

  14. That wonderful blue colour of ‘October Blue Skies’ is very appealing. With so many flowers they make handsome plants.

    Your Muhlenbergia is another one with a terrific colour. Plus the form of the grass adds beautiful texture to the scene.

    Hi Shade, thanks so much. October Blue Skies is a winner, for sure. I have been transplanting the seedlings hither and yon to add some pizzazz to other parts of the garden as well. Love the grasses, and the movement and texture they add.
    Frances

  15. Rose says:

    The colors are singing a resounding chorus in your garden, Frances! Love the fothergilla and the little crimson weed/wildflower. You know I also love the Muhly, but I’m going to stop complaining about not having any–I found a cultivar on some site that is hardy to zone 5–yippee! Now, just to figure out where I can plant some.

    Hi Rose, wonderful about finding some muhly for your zone! Sunny and very well drained are the usual needs for it. Do let me know when you get some blooms of your own!
    Frances

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