At A Glance: Fiery









At A Glance: October Orange

handmade terra cotta flower pots from Whichford, England

vintage Dooney and Bourke handbag

fall color Metasequoia Glyptostroboides

flower arrangement for fall wedding

fall color Boston Ivy

fall flower arrangement with dry kiwi vine

Halloween display with pumpkins and romanesco broccoli

fall color Himalayan white barked birch

pumpkin on a gourd bed

bittersweet berries

Fall Color

The phrase fall color usually refers to leaves that color up.  The gingkos go gold, and the sugar maple leaves turn the most amazing shades of yellow, peach, orange and red.  But there are those late blooming plants whose flowers are richly saturated with color.  Jewel like-as in the wine red and lime green of amaranthus caudatus Fat Spike, and the the golden topaz of amaranthus Hot Biscuits.  These big rangy growing cultivars of grain amaranth bloom with colors I associate with the season.      

.The amaranths dry incredibly well, but the color is at its most dense and brilliantly jewel-like the moment they are cut.  I buy them by the bunch loads when they come into season.  There is something about their velvety color and texture I find irresistable. I do use them in fall containers, especially clients who will replace their fall planting with a winter one the end of November.  

Hot biscuits is just as beautiful in a vase.  I remove all of the leaves and cut the thick stems on a steep slant. 

 Mixed with the orange rose of my dreams- “Star 2000”, the yellow and orange bicolor rose “Confetti”, and the florist’s button chrysanthemum “Yoko Ono”, the result is a spectacular discussion of color particular to fall. 

The orange summer planting at the shop looks perfectly appropriate this October 1.  The copper leaved banana, the orange dahlias and red violet coleus have taken on a different, more saturated look.  The forecast for temperatures in the 30’s tonight does not augur well for a good look tomorrow-I thought I had better take a picture.   

Clear sky orange and yellow pansies look particularly appropriate for fall.  Some dark twigs, with a substantial collar of eucalyptus dyed orange completes the look.  These pots will look all the more beautiful once the leaves on the trees change color.   

Some fall color is as much about the quality of the light as the color.  This antique white fountain with its paint rusting looks cream, gold and orange in the low in the sky, late day sun. 

Have you seen the new issue of Garden’s Illustrated?  It is superb.  My most favorite article is about the Dutch garden Boschoeve, owned, designed and tended by Dineke Logtenberg.  Her ornamental kitchen garden is full of varieties of edible plants that are beautiful in their own right.  This photograph of the cabbage “Kalibos” by Elke Borowski says everything there is to say about the color of fall maturing plants.

The pumpkins and gourds are ripening.  They will be cream, butter yellow, orange, peach, and black green.  This color is unlike any other season.    Their colors are all that much more intense, given a little late summer sun. 

 My trees are just beginning to turn color.  The kousa dogwoods are always the first.  The brilliant red berries pepper the green leaves in the process of turning red.  This look is some consolation that spring is several seasons away. 

Dahlais are especially beautiful in the fall.  Provided they have survived the spider mites and mildew, they will bloom like crazy towards the end of the season.  There colors will intrensify with the beginning of the cold.  This carmine pink University series cactus dahlia has bloomed faithfully all season; it is especially good right now.  

Not all fall color is bright.  These plantings of red bor kale, cirrus dusty miller and blue pansies are moody, just like the rainy blustery weather we have been having the past few days.  No summer planting looks like this.  Color in the fall is an experience like no other.

In The Pink


By late October, many garden plants have that foundering, fish out of water look. You know what I mean. My butterburrs are moments from total collapse.  The hostas have that translucent sickly yellow color which precedes the frost turning them to mush.  But some things look great yet-my Carefree Beauty roses look strikingly fresh. The foliage is lush and healthy.  The pink flowers have an intense cerise pink cast from the cold nights.  Though a hard frost will finish them off, they are beautiful right now.  It is a rare year that we do not have a hard frost before Halloween.  Our coldest night yet has been 40, but I doubt this will hold much longer.  I appreciate so much what the garden has to offer right now; the dormant season is closer than any northern gardener is willing to admit.  

I was fortunate enough to get a tour of Landscape Supply Inc recently from owner Steve Alford. He has made a life’s work of making rare, unusual and specimen plant material available to the trade.   I could not tell that this tree was a Stewartia-the tall thin shape is so unusual for this tree.  But what I admired the most was that pink-orange fall color-sensational.  I understand why many gardeners in my area are so keen for the fall season.  At no other time of year is there so much color in the landscape.  As few trees are purchased in fall color, it’s worthwhile to consider that fall color when choosing or placing a tree. Landscape design requires lots of thought times 4-the four seasons.

Petunias shake off the cold and keep right on blooming.  This plant has been awash in color since the first of June-5 months.  I water much less now, and have really quit looking after them.  You would never know this, to look at them.  It is an entirely different look from the summer, to see them in the foreground of the kousa dogwood in fall color.  If your annuals seem to peter out by labor day, you might want to look into seeing what you could do differently to keep them producing throughout the fall.  

I do love Halloween; Buck and I must have hundreds of kids and families who come by that night.  This variety, curiously named “One Too Many”, I will carve, and set in my pots Halloween night.  The white pumpkins have orange netting that has a decidedly pink cast.  I may set each one up on a circle of all white pumpkins.  Or maybe the traditional orange; making decisions like this is the fun part of gardening.

My Solenia rose begonias are in a very protected spot on my deck-they have been spared with blustery winds and driving rain.  They are an outstanding strain of large flowered begonias.  They have been covered in flowers for months, and only ask that I be careful not to overwater.  They are geniunely in the pink right now.

Limelight hydrangeas put on a spectacular fall display. In varying shades of cream-white, green, pink, and rose pink, they dry readily in this stage.  Kept out of direct light indoors, they keep their color as long as you want to look at them.  One bouquet I particularly fancy I have had almost 4 years now.   

There are lots of plants that endure or thrive in the fall.  The toad lilies are blooming now, as are the anemones and boltonia.  My grasses are beautiful. The boston ivy is beginning to color up.  My Caliente pink geraniums, so highly recommended by Alan Armitage, look as good today as they did every day of the past 5 months.  The trees are turning. The early hours of the day make for skies more likely to be pink than blue.  It is an exciting time of year.