September 27, 2012

It's The Beginning

There is much melancholy now about the end of summer. It's a legacy from our British gardening origins, which still affects our mindset here in the US. Summer is over, and nostalgia for spring flowers and summer blooms sets in.

But here on the east coast of North America it is not the end at all.  There is such a sense of anticipation, almost greater than when the garden wakes up after a cold wet winter.

It's coming. . .  Autumn.  And it will be spectacular.

Allen Lacy in The Garden in Autumn writes about the difference between an English garden going into fall and a North American one.  Our heritage is to think of gardens as beautiful in spring and summer, and faded in autumn.  In England, with its cheery spring and summer climate, but damp and dark autumn, that is true.

London is not, as popularly thought, directly across from New York.  It is on a latitude similar to Labrador, and days get short very noticeably in September. It's rainy. There can be nice garden sights, and beautiful fall color, but autumn quickly brings chill and dark, more so than it does here.

In much of North America the days are not so short, the weather gets really nice, and the sense of a season beginning anew in September is wondrous.  In the midwest and on the east coast the hot, humid, horrid, rainless misery of summer is over, and we get welcome rain to refresh the garden, and cooler weather to enjoy it in.

Just as we get excited about the first daffodils in spring, there is excitement about the asters and those first tantalizing fall colors just emerging.

Look ---  it begins.
Asters abound.  They are everywhere in the meadow.
Let the season begin!

Fronds of staghorn sumacs on the hill and an oak sapling in the meadow
start to color, and will be completely ablaze soon.
Anticipation!

This pair of red maples on the hill can't wait --- they're always ahead of the others.
They turn wine red in September, before all the others change.
Impatience!

The days are shorter now, but the light is clearer. The sun's rays look for willing subjects.
Illumination!

Purple and gold, clashing and crashing.
Exuberance!

A potted blueberry turns mahogany red.
It didn't produce many blueberries this summer, but look at it now.
Forgiven!

Iris 'Immortality' reblooms in September, so blindingly bright that the camera can't capture any detail in her crystalline white falls (I tried, I can't figure out any setting that will "see" anything but flat white).
Garnet red Itea stands behind Iris 'Immortality'.
This iris smells like high class grape soda.
Elegance!
I have no melancholy, no sense that the garden is ending, only excitement about all the new stuff going on out there in this season.

The hardy mums are filled with buds, and ready to open. The forested hillsides change colors, shifting the whole view. Berries on the hollies and chokeberries are turning red.

Each day brings new sights, new colors, emerging blooms, an interesting development in the garden, a changing landscape so much more dramatic than the slow changes our long, tentative spring brings us.

It's beginning and I can't wait.

Which way do we go?
Over here, over here.
No, this way, to the right. Follow us.
Excitement!


26 comments:

  1. Brilliantly written and illustrated about my favorite time of year Laurrie. This autumn was most anticipated too what with the drought being quenched by fall rains. My magnolia tree has bloomed again it is so happy. I have several spring blooming plants blooming. They were fooled by the drought. Love these earthy colors of autumn with splashes of bright color.

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    1. Lisa, thanks so much. We all got through a very tough summer, and fall is so welcome. Your poor magnolia may be stress-blooming, a reaction to the drought. So pretty and unexpected at this time of year, but a little worrisome. Hopefully it gathers its strength and comes through the winter for a show in spring.

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  2. This is a lovely photo essay on finding beauty in every season and in the present moment. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Barbara, thanks. Each season does have its beauty, but I am totally in love with autumn!

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  3. I love your meadow and am envious of all your asters. They just don't thrive in my wet soil. And I'm in total agreement that our fall far outdoes anything offered by spring. Yes, this is THE season in the garden.

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    1. James, this is the most glorious season for your wild garden I'm sure. I am surprised asters won't take your wet meadow. My area is actually quite wet, not boggy, but it does not drain well at all and there is some standing water in places after a rain. The asters seem to like it wetter rather than dry here.

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  4. I'm with you and your beautifully described and photographed garden, Laurrie. No tears for summer's end here; autumn, with its angled light and brilliant colors, amounts to the flip-side of spring. But more edgy, more interesting.

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    1. Lee, you're right, autumn does have an edgy, more vibrant, more hyper kind of feel with all that is going on. Definitely more interesting than spring!

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  5. I'm not sad to see summer go. If it never left I wouldn't have a chance to be excited about its return. I like each season, even the brown dormancy of winter. My itea hasn't turned red yet but I love that I know it's coming. :o)

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    1. Tammy, the itea has such a rich red color in fall. I wish more people would use it in their yards instead of the more pink-red garish burning bush. Yours will be red soon!

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  6. What a beautiful and thoughtful post, Laurrie! I like fall, I really do but seeing the days get so short unfortunately overshadows the rest. I try to ignore that part but so far have only been mildly successful. Give me 8:30 sunsets all year round! :)

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    1. Sue, thank you. Long summer evenings are beautiful, but I do like the cozy feel of approaching dusk in the fall too. Add some wood smoke, a little dry rustle of leaves and I'm happy even when the days are shorter : )

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  7. What a delightful and joyous tribute to autumn, Laurrie! I never thought much about the British connection, but now I understand how their feelings about fall might differ from ours. (And yes, I'm one of those that for a long time thought that London and New York probably had the same climate:)) I've come to appreciate autumn more and more, and this year's it's been especially welcome after the hot and dry summer we had.

    Your photos are all so beautiful--I want to frolic in that meadow!

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    1. Rose, thanks. The meadow does come into its own in late summer and fall. The weeds out there are just prettier this time of year and some of the other stuff has died back. Come frolic!

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  8. Those asters look beautiful in your meadow. I hope we get a less quiet fall than we've had the last couple of years. A really nice fall is just full of delights everywhere you look, as you said. We don't have many sugar maples down here but the red maples are almost (almost) as good when they're on. Your Itea is such a lively shade of red -- the wild ones here tend to be more purple than red, like 'Saturnalia'.

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    1. Sweetbay, the funny thing is that I have tried to grow asters in my garden and between the mildew and the melt-out they do not do well. But out in the meadow the big tall ones thrive, just a few feet from my gardens. I haven't seen itea growing wild here -- it must be a nice sight, even in its more purple shade.

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  9. PS Interesting to hear about the English autumns. I forget that England is so far north and thus that their days are shorter than ours.

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    1. Ha! Funny how we all tend to think that here in the US.

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  10. Your asters and fall colors are gorgeous! I remember autumn in New England so well, having lived there for all my life till four years ago. I miss the breathtaking vistas of autumn colors in the maple trees. We don't get that here in the PNW. Washington is called the Evergreen state, and our iconic tree is a fir. The only problem with autumn in New England is that winter follows it.

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    1. Alison, you have such a great climate to garden in now, but it must be hard to miss our autumns here. A visit back to your home state in fall is a must for you!

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  11. For me Autumn is sweeter than spring. The anticipation of rain, and the thought of a green country side is reviving after the long, dry, yellow summer.

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    1. Ruth, where summers are so dry and tough, autumn is the reward for the gardener. After a long summer in a dry place, it really brings revival and renewal.

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  12. I love Autumn, so I'm with you! The weather in Autumn here is very warm, at least in March and April, and there are more flowers in the garden then than in summer, when it's so dry. I'm really excited about Spring at the moment, but once Summer really hits, I'll be longing for Autumn.

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    1. Lyn, that is what I notice about my garden in autumn too --- there are actually more flowers now than in the summer garden. I have iris and clematis re-blooming, mums yet to open, Nippon daisies that will pop soon, and all kinds of color and blooms, not just fall foliage.

      Happy spring to you!

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  13. Gorgeous! Laurie, your photos are Exhibit A in why we love this time of year. They are wonderful, and I know the seasonal sights will just get better over the next month or two. I definitely prefer fall over summer in my climate. I especially love the gentle, glowing autumn light, as well as the gentle temperatures!

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    1. Deborah, fall in the south has to be such a glorious season! And such a reward for the gardener after summer.

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