|It's Columbus Day. Where are the colors?|
It feels that way because I am waiting, waiting, for something to happen, just the way I anxiously monitor emerging shoots and tiny leaves in early spring.
I am waiting for fall to emerge.
Autumn here is not an ending, it's the start of a glorious season in my garden. But this year it is tentative and halting.
Garden club speculation lays the blame on our very wet September and early October. Too much rain has delayed the fall color.
I do have proof. I keep another blog which is unpublished. It is a private daily journal of the tasks and minutiae that occupy me outside. And it gives me a photographic record year by year, dated and preserved.
Last year we had fall color by Columbus Day. It peaked in late October, but it exploded around this time and then deepened as the month ended. This year, compared to prior years, it is tentative and developing slowly.
A tiny new whip of a black gum tree is the only color out in the woods. None of the more mature black gums have started to put on their red dresses yet.
The little forest of growing maples on the back hill is just thinking about coloring. Very softly tinged right now, it is slowly turning. It should be ablaze.
The Virginia sweetspire shrub, itea, has begun to turn a deep color, and it is kind of nice, but last year it was a shocking garnet red that shimmered.
The only real red color on the back hill comes from staghorn sumacs. The line of shaggy buckeyes, aesculus parviflora, are only starting to turn gold in front of the browning meadow. They should be bright neon yellow all over at this time. The doublefile viburnum on the right here has been half green and half rusty red now for a week. Get your act together!
A brand new pagoda dogwood, cornus alternifolia, looks like Raggedy Ann. It hasn't grown into its elegant shape yet. At all. But it is one of the few spots of color right now.
The hillside is nice, but not what it has been in prior years.
My sourwood, oxydendrum arboreum, was deep crimson last year on October 12, and I have pictures from prior years that show it was a beautiful color even in late September. This year it is still green.
The 'Sheffield Pink' mums want to bloom, but they are still just a sea of buds with only a few brave flowers.
All will be right by the end of October when the colors emerge in their glory. But why so tentative? Why so delayed? Just to drive me crazy this year?