By one definition, autumnal is the suggesting of Autumn, that season that occurs between summer and winter. The official Equinox is a couple of weeks away still, but recent weather, seventeen and one half inches of rain along with a strong cooling front has brought changes to the Fairegarden already. Going outside after the downpour had a lull in the action, some signs of fall were noticed. The winterberries are coloring up, Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’ will lose its leaves and become a strong citrus orange soon.

Chlorophyll is leaving the building, er leaves of the native Sourwood tree, leaving behind the true scarlet shades.

The spent flowers are like designer tassels of silvery white against the brilliant reds in an ideal world. It seems the leaves of Oxydendrum arboretum unattach as soon as they turn to drift downward and decorate the garden floor instead.

The unstoppable Muscari ssp. are erupting from the thousands of bulbs in ground and even sitting atop the soil as erosion has washed away the protective dirt. Perhaps these will be divided and replanted more deeply. Or not. The fresh green spikes look mighty good to a summer baked gardener right about now.

On the subject of bulbs, the fall bloomers have begun their display. Colchicum ‘Violet Queen’ rises above a carpet of golden oregano, Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’. The oregano has won the battle for the honor of gracing the edge of the stone wall by the front steps over the Heuchera ‘Citronelle’ which burns up in the glaring summer sun. A gold leaf was needed against the icy blue of the Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ for year around interest in such a prominent location.

Along the upper edge of the Heather Bed, Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’ is showing signs of switching out from summer yellow to winter red foliage. Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’, a shameless flopper is in burgundy bloom below the heath. An Echinacea seedhead looks like the black hole of the garden in this low light.

Years of exposure to the outdoor elements has created a hole in the center of the leaf casting mix bowl formerly used as a fairy swimming pool. At least now there is no fear of drowning, the lifeguard position has been eliminated in downsizing. Perhaps a seed will nestle down into the hole for a bit of serendipitous garden planting, or perhaps a human gardener will exert some influence there. For now, pine needles and fallen leaves decorate the dish.

Hope lives that the cool down and saturating moisture will stir the tomatoes to produce a fall crop. Framed by a fallen pine bough, with the trunks of the stately stand of trees in the background along with the black pipes of the large wind chime hanging in the nearby arbor just to the right, this image brings a smile to hungry lips.

Even without being beaten down by heavy precipitation, Solidago ‘Golden Fleece’ lays down on the job, playing the role of rug at the edge of the Gravel Garden. We don’t mind at all, the better to see the yellow fluff.

Calla lily Naomi Campbell, Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Naomi Campbell’ blooms in early summer and the thick petals hold up as the color fades, well into the latter months of the year, moody and beautiful.

There is only one thing that can be said about the coming of Autumn…Onward.


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13 Responses to Autumnal

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your garden looks pretty good despite the horrors of summer. Lucky you to get a shot of rain. Just what we all need right now. Autumn always gives me the courage to look forward no matter what.

    Thanks Lisa. Be brave, my friend, look forward to the cooler temps and moisture to come with a clear eye! Fall is the best time for planting and moving stuff around to make the garden better. I am planning for that right now.

  2. Randy Anderson says:

    We leap from from season to season here in western Il. Never seeming to enjoy the changes from one to the next each season seeming to short. It was in the 100s last week and it was in the 40s last night. The storms last week flattened the ornamental grasses that will now have to be cut down so we can maneuver through the garden. My son commented over the week end that my fall garden was not going to be as pretty as in past years. I t will still have some bright spots but he is right . To much moisture at times and to little at others has taken its toll this year. Always love seeing your garden Francis, thanks again!

    Hi Randy, thanks for visiting. Methinks the weather extremes are here to stay, for now anyway, so we had better get used to it and adjust accordingly. The flattening is being considered here, whether to cut down and try to prop things back up is the dilemma. But regarding the comment of your wise son, each year is different, with some highlights and some lowlights, but it is never the same as the year before. We need to look for the bright spots.

  3. Les says:

    Our changes are subtle here. The Callicarpa berries are coloring and Goldenrod is cracking color. There are a lot of leaves on the ground, however we can blame Irene for that. The surest sign of fall here is entirely manmade, traffic has increaced exponentially with the reopening of area universities and public schools. Have a good day Frances!

    Thanks Les. I am glad you have survived the ravages of the weather. It is berry time here and that goldenrod cannot be killed, thank goodness. Heavy traffic is never fun, but people keep a community thriving, so be glad for that. You too, have a good day!

  4. Dave says:

    Autumn is definitely on its way. The last couple days the weather seems like a preview. 20 degrees cooler than normal. Goldenrod and ironweed are well in bloom here, fall is coming, it’s the season after that I’d like to keep at bay!

    Hi Dave, thanks for stopping by. It is much cooler here, as well, still sort of misting. You are ahead of us with the goldenrod and ironweed, but we whack ours down in May to keep them shorter. I love fall, and hope for a long lasting one this year.

  5. I love the golden oregano with the Colchicum! I must do that with one of mine. I have ‘The Giant’ growing out of Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, but I think I like your idea better.

    Thanks MMD. I am liking that golden oregano with everything in that bed. There are pale blue Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’ in spring coming up through it.

  6. commonweeder says:

    I think we are in for weather extremes too. Still raining here.

    Hi Pat, thanks for the report. It seems to be nothing but extremes anymore, and who knows what is normal?

  7. Christina says:

    Frances, very nice post about the arrival of autumn in your garden! I love the combination of the Colchicum ‘Violet Queen’ and the golden oregano, Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’. The colors are just stunning together. I am growing heuchera ‘Key Lime Pie’ almost the same color like your oregano and it has been not doing that great in the heat that we are having here in San Diego inland. So maybe a chartreuse oregano could work much better for me.. Thanks for the inspiration! I absolutely love the last shot of your garden! Everything seems to be so well balanced and there is still enough contrast to keep the bed interesting looking. Good job!

    Thanks Christina. I love those gold leaf Heucheras, but that bed is just too sunny in high summer and burns them up. Until the little Japanese maple grows larger to give more shade, the oregano is the golden highlight there. I am glad you appreciate the long view shot, those are never as pretty as the close ups, but give a better picture of a real garden overall. It has been a constant battle to have interest all 12 months, sometimes the plants just don’t cooperate!

  8. Yes, autumn is definitely on the way, but each season has its own beauty. Those of us who have 4 different seasons are so lucky, so much to look forward to each time.

    Hi Pauline, thanks for dropping by. I have lived where the seasons hardly change at all, in Southern California for one place, and did not like it. I need the transitions and resting periods, and like you say, the anticipation.

  9. patientgardener says:

    Autumn is definitely creeping in early this year. I have a Colchicum just about to open in flower and my Witch Hazel has already turned and shed its leaves. It is incredibly windy and grey at the moment. However I like Autumn, I like the purpose of sorting the garden for winter and the coming spring.

    Hi Helen, thanks for visiting. I am happy for your Colchicum, they are new to us as of last year and I am hooked. Our Yoshino cherry has lost every single leaf, but Diane witch hazel is just beginning to turn colors. I was just out looking at the garden for sorting purposes myself!

  10. Rose says:

    Seventeen inches of rain?? Oh my goodness, I know you needed some rain, but I hope this didn’t cause any problems for you. I’d love to have a few inches of rain here, but not a downpour. It certainly feels like autumn here, too, a welcome relief from the prolonged heat this summer. Lovely images, Frances; glad to know the fairy swimming pool is still safe, even without lifeguards:)

    Thanks, Rose. It is a ridiculous amount of rain, but the garden really did appreciate it. It perked up the droopy Dogwoods, I am very thankful for that. The swimming pool had been a worry. HA

  11. Sheila says:

    I like the golden oregano with colchicum. That’s a new bulb to me – I’ll have to investigate. I have had excellent luck with golden oregano as a groundcover in tough places. I started with one plant and keep moving divisions to areas where nothing else seems to survive. I can’t believe you got 17 inches of rain. The weather has become so extreme.

    Thanks Sheila. The Colchicums were new here as of last year and I am smitten with them. Anything that appears in the late summer doldrums is welcome, for sure. The golden oregano has been perfect for that spot, giving the yellow contrast for the blue star junipers all through the year. The rain was crazy, but the garden loved it.

  12. Barbarapc says:

    Holy smokes – 17+ inches of rain – I can’t even imagine. Francis, I was aimlessly bumping from site to site yesterday, stopping briefly at a Plants that can withstand Heat site – they showed numerous rather sad specimens including something called Texas Muhly grass. Well, as far as I’m concerned, you my dear have the only Muhly grass that matters. The images of your pink pufsters over the years have permanently diminished all others in my mind. Love the darling colchicums poking through the greenery.

    It just kept raining and raining, steady, for three days and nights, Barbara. The garden absorbed it well and is not much happier, thank goodness. I do appreciate your kind words about the Muhly. There are several species, including several that are native to Texas including the Gulf Coast Muhly which is what I have, Muhlenbergia capillaris. I agree, it is a beauty. We hope it is a good bloom year for it, coming up soon!

  13. Lola says:

    That is a lot of rain. We only got a shower. Your garden looks divine even as it embraces Fall. We all admire the cooler temps as it gives the garden as well as the gardener a reprieve from the horrible heat of Summer. It also gives us a chance to observe if the garden needs a different appearance. We have that chance.

    Thanks Lola. That rain certainly intensified the beauty of the garden and made the gardener sigh with relief as the drought was cleansed away. The coolness is so welcome, I want to cry with happiness.

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