In the middle of summer the garden's transitions take place with grace and ease. There is so much in bloom at once one hardly notices when the flowers of the campanula fade giving way to the blowzy blossoms of the phlox. Not so in the fall. Every bloom could be the last on the annuals as frost threatens. The perennials are starting to hunker down for the winter. A scant two weeks can make all the difference in the garden in fall. We have had only the slightest of frosts so far but the foliage is turning and the grasses are fading. Some such as the Miscanthus sinensis purpurescens have traditional fall robes but these have faded to dry tan as the temperatures and light levels drop. There is a plus to the dried foliage of the large grasses. They do change voice from a whisper to a purr as the wind blows. The sounds of the season are as unique as the colors and the temperatures.
The long sunny border was full of glorious asters in late September but as October progresses, the colors fade and the shapes of the plants take over.
The bones of the garden are starting to show. It is time to crisp the edges of the borders with a new cut, clean out the fading foliage of those perennials which melt with the season and add a bit of compost to some areas of the garden. The leaf raking will come as should the tool cleaning but the large grasses will stand at least until a heavy snow brings them to their knees. There is nothing sadder to see than a large clump of one of the tall varieties of ornamental grass which has been cut off clean and level enough to spread out a tablecloth and have a meal on the remains. I understand that some prefer the neat appearance of the sheared grass and many landscape crews need to get the job done in the fall but silencing the grasses by chopping them off is, to me, on the 'Crimes against Nature' list. I say this with good humor. We all have our standards. What are yours concerning the grasses?