The view from the back deck is changing. As fall color moves down from the mountains into our valley, the woods and weedy edges of the yard are losing the tired green of a droughty fall and going gold.
Dry soil and warm night temperatures don’t make for good fall color but there’s still plenty to go around, and inspired by this last hurrah I trudged out to my trusty favorite nursery, Perennial Point, and cracked open the wallet for a mum, ‘redbor’ kale and some pansies. I’ve been trying to stick to a budget, and mums and pansies that may or may not survive the winter don’t fit well into the spending plan. Still it’s always nice to bring home even a small patch of instant color.
The budget is helped immensely by home-grown pumpkins and cornstalks, and a couple butternut squash fit in perfectly until I draft them for soup duty. The pansies in orange and purple are not what I’d pick in spring, but seemed a perfect fall theme. Orange is definitely the color of the season, and now that the front stoop has been re-decorated (by someone over the age of seven) I’m starting to notice orange all over the place.
The last of the Tropicana cannas are managing to get in a couple more blooms before frost cuts them down (any day now)
These seed grown marigolds (I believe Sophia mix… although they don’t look too mixed) did well in spite of neglect, soccer balls, and drought, and I’m almost a little nervous about saying I really like them. Orange marigolds…. a color and plant frequently looked down upon by more refined gardeners…. perfect for my yard!
Another looked-down-upon plant which I love is ‘Tiger Eyes” sumac. The wild version of staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) provides most of the color in the backyard but I try to keep those weeds back a ways. Here in the front, the slightly more refined chartreuse foliage of ‘Tiger Eyes’ is almost acceptable. I can easily ignore its suckering ways when it glows like this.
Here’s another one poking up by the house. Even I think it may be a little too wild for a foundation planting, but until something better comes along the sumac stays. It actually looks good right now with the blues of the spruce, catmint and fescue grass. Between that and the rusty chrysanthemums and orange amaranthus it almost looks like I planned it this way. If anyone asks I’ll say I did 😉
The rust colored mums stick with todays orange theme but it’s the purple ones I like best. There’s a little fading in the blooms to give some depth and even without pinching they keep to a low mound. I’m really appreciating the chrysanthemums in general this year and spring may bring some new additions. How can I not like a plant which never got a drop of watering or fertilizer and still puts on a perfect show?
I’ll have to enjoy these last splashes of color as fall starts to fade. We’re on borrowed time as long as the frost stays up in the mountains, but our days are numbered. This weekend the smart gardener will bring his tender plants indoors. The other gardener will remember his plants just before bedtime and regret his procrastination as he fumbles with muddy plants, a flashlight, and cold fingers in the dark.