Mother Nature has saved the brightest of all of the fall colors for last. Many trees have dropped their leaves but the Japanese maples seem to be among the last to put on their fall robes.
Brilliant red, bright yellow and a mix of both colors are visible in many of the Japanese maples in the gardens and woodlands. The above red Japanese maple was planted many years ago and its name is long forgotten. This time of year it screams for attention. Behind it is the golden yellow of an Acer palmatum 'Omurayama' which was planted the same year. The full moon maple, Acer japonicum aconitifolium, blends its reds and yellow.
The result is a leaf which glows as bright as any ember. The lime green of the Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' has morphed to brilliant yellow which sits pretty right in front of the red cut leaf Japanese maple.
Oak leaves are littering the ground and the time for chopping them and adding them to the garden beds is at hand. There are many chores to be attended to in the gardens. Some perennials will be cut mainly to reduce the chores of springtime.
Others are left to feed the birds and add winter interest to the garden. The garlic needs to be planted quite soon and in the rest of the vegetable garden the arugula and kale are still being harvested. Brussel sprouts and carrots don't mind the cold at all. Their flavor is heightened by cool temperatures. There is nothing sweeter than a carrot pulled from the ground after a few frosts. November is a rather gray month in my garden. It is a transition from the brilliant decline of October to the dormant state of December. The first days though, are brilliant this year. What is shining in your garden at the beginning of this month?
In New England, Southern New England that is, the bronze days are upon us.
Most of the native maples have dropped their leaves but the oak leaves are persistent and hang on until the abscission layer fully forms. This is as variable as the oak varieties and the season in the woodland and garden. There are black oaks, white oaks, red oaks and pin oaks.
Some do have bright red coloration but the majority of oaks in my garden turn bronze. It has been clear and bright and very dry here this fall. The spring in the back former field which was walled up a century ago and used for watering cattle is dry.
The frost has arrived darkening the fern fronds and stripping the color from the late annuals and the foliage. Yellow is left, brown is left and bronze. The bronze offers golden afternoons with low slanting sunlight. The drone of the bees is now absent from the garden but the birds are still singing and there is a distinct crunch under foot. In the early morning it is the crunch of frost but later in the day it is the dry, fallen leaves which are begging to be lifted and turned into compost. The old manure spreader has a bronze patina of its own lending to the warmth of this season. What color is your fall garden today?
I have a native wildflower blooming this late in the garden. I think it is the bushy American aster, Symphyotrichum dumosum, although it could be S. racemosum. It is hard to tell them apart. The flowers are arranged more loosely in the S. dumosum species and it would appear the same as the plant which has volunteered its cheerful autumn blooms in my garden. The foliage is light and airy. I often wonder how the volunteers arrive in the garden. Do they travel on the breeze or are they dropped by a passing bird who enjoyed this seed? The flowers do mature to small puffs so the obvious answer would be that they arrived on a breeze. I never saw it happen. There are no asters in the field but, nonetheless, this plant has seeded in the front of the border. No matter. It is a see through plant and one that I now enjoy. Despite intensive gardening Mother Nature often has her own ideas on what should be growing in the borders. The ragweed gets weeded out as do many of the Queen Anne's Lace seedlings since they have a tendency to take right over. This plant I leave. It is well behaved and I think you will agree, quite lovely. This is really my first Wildflower Wednesday post and thanks go to Gail at Clay and Limestone for hosting and helping to make us all aware of the natural wonders of our own specific areas.
Another Bloom Day is upon us and there is much still blooming in the garden. We have had just one light frost with no real damage on the tender annuals. Perennials such as catmint and bee balm are throwing a few last blooms. Fall foliage is quickly passing peak leaving the copper colors of oak leaves and pine needles to warm the days. The natural decline is well under way. Masses of bloom are a thing of the past but there are some blooms if one takes the time to walk slowly and search them out. I do deadhead the bee balm and this one has several bright blooms.
No hummingbird is coming by though. They have left for their seasonal vacation. The Spanish flag vine is blooming as is the Eupatorium 'Chocolate'.
The major bloom of the asters is past but there are a few blooms left on Professor Kippenburg who loves the companionship of the orange tithonia.
The deer are in search of food and they have taken their more than fair share of the tender tops of the Hydrangea p. 'Vanilla Strawberry'.
As a result, there are only a couple of blooms on this shrub. This bloom is aging gracefully while the new bloom is a sweet, tender pink.
I will do a bit better with the deer proofing next season.
Nicotianas shake off both cold and low light and this one reseeded from last year. It should be a bit further back in the border but who am I to argue with Mother Nature.
The fishpond has yet to have a skim of ice on the top but it is coming and the sleeping lady planter carries this sedum for crowning glory. She is resigned to the change in season and some days I do feel as she looks but most days I look forward to the changes. There is always something interesting to see and while it becomes more of a challenge as the days shorten and the cold descends it makes me hunt a little harder for the treasures of the season. It will be a challenge to find blooms for the next Bloom Day in November. I will find at least one although it may be an inside bloom. Thanks go to Carol at May Dreams for hosting this Bloom Day. You can find a multitude of other blooms from all over the world over at May Dreams.
It happens quickly. The turn from summer to fall. Here in southern New England we are in 'The Golden Days' of fall. The whites pines shed their needles this past weekend creating a blanket of burnished copper under their boughs.
This blanket muffles sounds, covers the imperfections on the floor of the pine woodland and it also creates a spongy and inviting carpet for the casual hiker or hapless gardener on the way to the compost pile. There is still brilliance in the garden and the surrounding woodland.
Crimson and gold mix together as the low angle of the sun illuminates the leaves.
It is a turning point-Nature's last colorful gift to the gardener before the onset of gray and dreary November which is perhaps a necessary respite from the color of 'The Golden Days' of fall. There is much still in bloom here as the first frost has been reticent to show his face. That is fine with this gardener.
The moonflower vine was planted late and has just started its show which will be short indeed. The Spanish Flag vine or Mina lobataself seeded next to the tutuer in the island garden.
It has cheery tricolor flowers which match the colors of fall here perfectly. It was a gift from Mother Nature this season and it is much appreciated. Did anything crop up unexpectedly in your garden this season?
The mornings are cool now that fall has arrived. The cool mornings actually arrived a week or so before the official fall date. There has been a frost down in the valley a mile away but no frost here yet which means that the gardens are still looking full and lush although there is decline in the air. The afternoons are clear, warm in the sun and cool in the shade, kind of days. When I step out the front door on these warm afternoons there is a loud hum.
The oak tree anchoring the entry garden looks as though it has a bit of matted fur all over the trunk and limbs. Climbing high into the branches, English Ivy, Hedera helix, has made a home. Now before you get all excited, yes this plant is invasive and on many invasive lists but here in northwestern Rhode Island it has not spread by seed. Here, it just has climbed high and when it climbs high it flowers.
The flowers of English Ivy are creamy umbels which have an incredibly sweet fragrance. Their sweetness is appreciated by the bees. I know there is more than one kind of bee enjoying the nectar. I can see bumblebees and I think there are honeybees but I have not taken life and limb in hand to climb a ladder into this bee haven.
I am content to stand under this tree and just listen to the happy hum. These are not the only 'bees' in the garden. In July as I started to pick the climbing beans in the vegetable garden I heard the familiar and angry buzz of hornets. Looking for the source I realized that they had and were still building their nest in the top of the tutuer on which the beans were climbing. My first response was to back away and leave the beans right where they grew.
My second response was to purchase hornet and bee killer. I thought long and hard about the implications of applying this pesticide in the vegetable garden. Hornets can be quite aggressive and if I had an allergy to bee venom I would not hesitate to remove these trespassers. But while hornets are not great pollinators they are great predators. Most of us have experienced hornets hovering over a soda can or descending upon the fallen fruit in an orchard but they also eat a variety of insects. I do think there was less damage on all the Brassica plants in the garden this year. The cabbage looper often etches a lacy leaf pattern on the brussel sprouts foliage which does impact the size of the actual brussel sprout.
So, I left the nest and have watched it grow all summer long. It is really a marvel of engineering.
These critters are doomed anyway since the first frost is imminent. Have you ever left a wasp nest alone just so you can observe what goes on in and around it?
As a gardener and in life, my focus is sometimes a bit catawampus. I completely ignored the tomato plants once they were planted in spite of all the work of starting them from seed, hardening them off and setting them out in the ground. June was cool and moist and not the best weather for tomatoes but it was good for travel. I traveled, to England on a garden tour and to San Francisco for the Garden Bloggers Fling. At home I focused on the borders which are less work than staking and weeding tomatoes which are out of sight anyway. Now that tomato season is here I am bemoaning the fact that I didn't stake them and they are lying in heaps on the ground fighting for space with weeds.
Still, I am gathering tomatoes and no, I am not going to show you the ugly plants.
I am going to resolve to do better with tomatoes next year. Next year's tomatoes will be perfect. I will adjust my focus a bit next year. Right now the Conoclinium coelestinum formerly known as Eupatorium coelestinium is in bloom right in front of the Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Golden Arrow'.
I am not sure which of these to focus on as they are both very pretty late summer bloomers. Oh well, the focus must shift now and then both in the garden and in life. One sees more that way don't you think?