I love Fall almost as much as (or maybe more than) Spring! The season is unequivocal. The leaves of the deciduous trees and shrubs change colors upon meeting their appointed criteria and then drop in light breezes. I love to see the wind blow through the blazing colors, sending them flying in all directions against a clear blue October sky. One of my favorite memories from my children’s childhood is playing the old-fashioned game of Fox and Geese in the yellow maples leaves in our front yard. The leaves were thick enough to carve a figure 8 with our dragging feet then chase each other through the design!
Fall is the season when we begin to really appreciate those slightly boring green shrubs that bloomed early in the spring. The cooler weather and shorter days begin to bring out the underlying colors that have been percolating and baking inside the leaves all summer. Those sugars explode into their designated colors – red, yellow, purple, orange. Can you tell they are my favorites?
Then those same shrubs and trees that have given us that Fall fireworks display show us their inner tracery of trunks and branches. One of my favorite skeletal shrubs is Fothergilla Gardenii, a member of the Witchhazel family. There is no common name for this beauty that blooms with white bottlebrush flowers in the spring and dresses in almost frilly-edged leaves all summer. In Fall this plant reveals purple, yellow, red and orange then drops these colors from zigzagging branches that say, “I’m a Fothergilla!” I’ve had one of these well-mannered shrubs in my garden for almost 16 years now, and it is still never taller than 3 feet but has ranged wide in its spot in the bed.
Flower bed change dramatically in the Fall as well – The summer annuals are brilliant and huge and still inviting to the butterflies and the last of the hummingbirds, but they must come out soon if Fall annuals are to take their place. Those new plants need some time in the warm ground to get established before the truly cold weather sets in. It is heartbreaking to pull out Lantana the size of a VW Beetle, but it must be done!
Enjoy this lovely weather!