In A Mood


The turning of the calender page to October has us in a mood, a mood of reflection and observance. We began the mood here_In The Mood, and so it continues. The hypertufa pot studded with flower arranging marbles, once used as home decor for a fighting fish without an opponent, houses a broken glass ball that once floated on the pond. The low growing Sedum ‘Lemon Coral’ and Calluna vulgaris ‘Multicolor’ remain the same throughout the year. Our mood does not.


Wet webs, soggy shrub roses and unable to stand up without assistance Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ present a tumbled jumbled jigsaw puzzle to the eye. It matches the mood perfectly.


The Eastern Wahoo, Euonymus atropurpurea is changing daily. It is ignored during the growing season with its nondescript green leaves. The mood changes towards it as the berries color up and the leaves turn. This was given to us, even planted with a large bucket of his very fine compost, by my neighbor Mickey several years ago. He did not know the name and there were several mistakes made in identification until the true identity was revealed. I am glad it is a native here, although it would have been accepted in any case.


Salvias come into their own in this darkening season. They seem to love the conditions as their comrades around them give up the ghost of crisp freshness, shining like stars in the lowering light. The yellow flowers of S. koyamae have become more noticeable as the plantings around it fade. Reading up on it, we find that it loves shade. It is situated in a sunny position at the moment, but is under a deciduous azalea that, as it grows larger should provide a respite from the harsh summer sun. Hang in there, my yellow friend! Time is on your side.


More sun loving are the S. coccinea seedlings that appear only in the gravel paths, never in the flower beds. Each year they are lifted and transplanted into designated areas for the fall color they so obligingly provide. But they do best when moved as younguns, before the calyx color is revealed. We have been selecting for the black petal covering over the years, but some of these are green. The stiff seedheads of the native weed, oops make that beloved wildflower, Prunella vulgaris illustrate the juxtaposition of birth and death going on now. The flower color always confuses the camera, blending into a scarlet veil of mystery.


The variegation of the Salvia greggii ‘Desert Blaze’ is delightful but it seems to be reverting back to green. It has been noted that the green is more hardy, so maybe that is a good thing. It is planted in the metal toolbox cum planter next to the hypertufa birdbath that sports the hypertufa ball on a butter dish formed hypertufa pedestal. (For info on making the ball click here-How To Make Hypertufa Balls.) Usually the S. greggiis will survive our zone 7 wet winters, but container planting will lower the temps a full zone in most cases. We will hope for the best but expect the worst.


The Coleus have had a banner year in containers, the best ever. Their days are numbered as the large multicolored leaves are most susceptible to frost and will burn to black in a blink. Replacements of violas, kale and dianthus are at the ready, but we haven’t the heart to pull still healthy plants for the compost. The weather gods will take care of that soon and we will not shed a tear for the loss. It is time. The hue of S. greggii ‘Rose Queen’ blends well with the Muhlenbergia capillaris pink fizz at the top of the steep hillside.


Standing straight and erect against the soft and flowing Japanese blood grass is Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’. The winding down of the flowering season is well represented by the Aster clan. The daisy like flowers of these late to bloom sentinels will last well after many frosts, untarnished by the ice crystals that will form. Ice. The word sends shivers down to Midnight Blue painted tootsie tips.


But we are not there yet. Moments of perfectly slanted light offer jewels of color in the garden still. Dreariness has grazed the skin but has not yet shot through to the heart of the garden. As inevitable as the changes in the garden to come, the mood rises and falls with sun.

Frances

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18 Responses to In A Mood

  1. Carol says:

    You are in a reflective mood this fall! These days are getting shorter and I barely have time after work to do anything in the garden but water…

    Hi Carol, yes, we are in a period of attitude adjustment! Even if the temps stay nice, the shorter daylight hours affect our mood. Knitting helps! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Yes, these shorter days with tolerable temperatures are a gift after a long hot summer. It feels so relaxing to be able to comfortably sit outside and enjoy the garden actually feeling the changes.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for visiting. These have been glorious days here lately, haven’t they? Even though we desperately need rain, the sky is so blue and the light is enchanting. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  3. Valerie says:

    I have been in a reflective mood these days as the garden winds up for the season. I love all the autumn colours in yours.

    Hi Valerie, thanks so much. It is a time for thinking garden-y thoughts, isn’t it? What did well, what needs to be done, bulbs! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  4. Eileen says:

    I am in a mood to change things, hope I get done with it all. You still have a lot of color. I think our fall color is going to be intense this year because of all the rain we had this year.

    Eileen

    Hi Eileen, thanks. That is so funny, because our newspaper has predicted we will have an above average fall season of color due to the lack of rain!!! HA Whatever the cause, I hope we both have exceptional fall color. And change is good. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  5. Laurrie says:

    I like the expression about the tender coleus “burning to black in a blink”! The blue aster is my favorite in your post, but all the moody fall forms and colors are so soothing. I love fall.

    Hi Laurrie, thanks so much. Jindai has been wonderful, the only aster we have that does not flop around on its neighbors. I appreciate that trait. It also spreads to fill in nicely, another plus. Fall is glorious! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  6. Absolutely beautiful. I need Eastern Wahoo for my new front yard garden (yet to be started). I must make a note of this.

    I really love your photographs in this post, so enchanting and calm while at the same time brilliant rafts of color.

    Thank you, Frances.

    Thanks Hands. The Wahoo, don’t you love the name?, is nothing to look at until those berries form and the foliage turns a fine color in fall. It is worth growing just for the photo ops alone, but the wildlife also love the berries. I appreciate those kind words. Now is a magical time in the garden. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  7. Rose says:

    Seeing all your vibrant blooms has put me into a cheery mood this morning, Frances! It also helps that we have had nothing but sunshine for days on end; while the garden could certainly use some rain, sunny days elevate my mood. I am trying not to think of the inevitable when a hard frost will end most of the blooms here, but am just enjoying the colors of fall for as long as they last.

    Hi Rose, thanks! Imagining you in a cheery mood makes me cheery as well. We need rain desperately, but we do enjoy these perfect sunny days while dragging the hoses around. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  8. catmint says:

    I read this post and appreciate the serenity and coolness just as I am bracing myself as we approach summer and hope it won’t be too harsh. Your first photo made me think about the two meanings of reflection, as thought and as in a pond or mirror.

    Hi Catmint, thanks, so nice to see you here. Bracing for summer is something we will be thinking of doing in the future, if our summers remain as hot and dry and long as this past one. May yours be kind. Words are wonderful things, aren’t they? πŸ™‚
    Frances

  9. Steve says:

    Your garden is such a source for joy, Frances. You are a true example of someone who can maximize the pleasure of garden, not only in your obvious enjoyment of seeing your little sprouts develop into what glories they do, but also in your photographs and writing. You make it all make sense, dear. You are a standing resource for everyone to come on in and drink at your little spiritual fountain. I love coming here. Thanks so much for having us.

    Oh Steve, you are so sweet, thanks. I am blushing, but so appreciate what you have said. It makes me very happy to think of you and others coming here to visit and learning, enjoying and seeing their own spaces with new eyes. That is my goal. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  10. It is a reflective beauty in your garden my friend. I can see why its put you in the mood. πŸ™‚

    Hi Dee, thanks. The garden is an extension of my being, it affects me more than it should, possibly. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  11. You still have much color in your garden. What cheery photos. It is a good time to reflect. Rains are coming and washing away the summer. My garden is getting ready for a long siesta, now I have to go out and give it a hand.

    I really like you hypertufa objects. The more I see them, the more I want to try making some myself.

    Hi Donna, thanks. We will have color until December here, from late blooming mums and the foliage of deciduous trees and the wonderful fading Japanese blood grass among others. We could certainly use some of those rains! Do try the hypertufa, it is easy and fun! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  12. Tatyana says:

    I don’t know why, but the second picture grabbed me and doesn’t let me go! It looks like some charming artistic mess.

    Thanks Tatyana, that one appealed to me as well. It is the mixture of so many plants, flowers new and spent, it shouts fall! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  13. Aw, what a sweet, sweet aster; the color contrast to the blood grass is divine!

    Hi Monica, thanks. Jindai has been terrific, more were added elsewhere even. They seem to be spreading, which is a very good thing, saves me work and money! The blood grass makes a fine backdrop for all the other plants with backlighting. People too, our family Thanksgiving photo was taken with it behind us, the best one ever. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  14. Lola says:

    The season may be winding down but your garden is still very lovely. Love that aster against the blood grass. Great color combination.

    Hi Lola, thanks. The asters are wonderful this year and the blood grass is a fine companion to all. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  15. Hi Frances,
    I love the name ‘wahoo’ – it sounds like it is welcoming the autumn in with a big cheer.

    Hi Happy, thanks, so nice to see you here! xxxooo
    Frances

  16. Such beautiful photos of your autumn gardens! Had lunch with Helen Yoest and Carolyn Choi yesterday. Delightful folks!

    Thanks Cameron. How fun your meetup sounds! Wish I could have joined you! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  17. sequoiagardens says:

    Thanks. I was in need of my fix from Faire Frances.

    Thanks dear Jack. You are so sweet. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  18. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Dry as I know it has been there, the garden is indeed still faire!

    Hi Cindy, thanks so much. It is amazing what can survive, even thrive in the face of drought. Something needing further study here.
    Frances

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