Category: Fall color

In and around the November garden

What have I been up to of late?

Glad you asked.

I finally got around to installing my Screech Owl house. Fine, I didn’t physically install it so much as I was an active gofer for my handy brother-in-law who fortunately lives two houses away.

You all know me too well.


The owl house was installed during the day on Saturday at a temperature close to 70 degrees and got its first test that night when we had gusting winds and almost 2 inches of snow.

Yay, November.

Who can resist a good late season plant sale? How about this monster bargain:

carex-lowes50 cents x 3 is so worth the risk of getting these through the winter. They are all Carex buchananii ‘Red Rooster’.

I consider it research for my ornamental grasses book.

A tax write-off.

Wish me luck.

Some times you just have a feeling.

Some times your gut tells you to just do it.

Some times you need it.

As silly as that all sounds, it all added up to me attempting to grow tulips successfully for the first time ever (not including in containers).


There is a deeper meaning at play here and one I’ll never talk about.

I need this to work and I’m confident that it will.

Tulips don’t dig the wet winter soil and that has been my problem for decades.

Until 2017 that is.


We now wait until spring where my blind faith will hopefully pay huge dividends.

Beyond all that, I’ve been doing my best to soak in what is left in terms of color out in the garden.


Spirea nipponica ‘Snowmound’




Rhamnus frangula ‘Fine Line’


Pycnanthemum incanum (Hoary mountain mint)

And you know, ornamental grasses.












Fall color on Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’

Quick one today.

The fall color on my Viburnum carlesii  ‘Aurora’ has been incredible for over a month now.

It gets better and better each year.


I wrote a post about this gem a few years back – Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’ – and continue to recommend it as a must have shrub based on the fall foliage alone.



It started changing color back in early September and is one of the few plants with its leaves still in place today.



The sight of frost this morning was jarring.



The autumn sun so low, feeling like I could swat it if I had a running start.



While I could see winter sneakily approaching through my back woods, autumn is all like “I ain’t going anywhere yet.”





I wish morning frost was available year round. It beautifully outlines the leaves and stems.




This is only one reason why we don’t cut down the perennials until spring.









The Fall Garden

We are in peak fall garden time right now:

As if we needed another reason to love on Panicum ‘Northwind’, look at that golden fall color. Phenomenal.



Grasses. Yeah.




Hydrangea and Panicum.



Andropogon (Big Bluestem) ‘Red October’



Schizachyrium (Little Bluestem) ‘Blue Heaven’



Pennisetum ‘Hameln’



Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’, I think. Missed this one on the spreadsheet a few years back.



Amsonia hubrichtii. Not quite in peak fall form yet.



Fothergilla ‘Mt. Airy’ emerging between an endless collection of you guessed it, ornamental grasses.



Ninebark ‘Diablo’ showing its first signs of decay. Albeit a good decay.



The fall color on Geranium ‘Brookside’ is underrated.



Red Maple ‘October Glory’ in all its … October … glory.




Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’ making the turn towards leaf drop time.



And finally, Phlox subulata (Moss Phlox) with a subtle yet impactful foliage change that reminds me we are in the home stretch every time I walk out of my front door.


QOTD: What is the most underrated fall foliage star in your garden?


Early morning garden photos

After a morning of panic because my son slept through two alarms and then awe at his ability to shower, shave, get dressed and eat breakfast in 7 minutes and then seeing him off to the high school bus after ensuring there were no clowns hanging at the edge of the woods with Snickers bars, I grabbed my camera and took the following photos.

Hope you enjoy.




























True story.

I had this post completed about ten minutes ago.

And then I deleted it.

Because it sucked.

So now you are reading version 2.0. I don’t know if it’s any better, but it is definitely more real.

I hope I’m not coming across as whiny with my series of posts the past few months. I realize we are not dealing with a life and death situation here (although somewhat debatable … couldn’t resist). I know things could be much worse.

But the uncertainty of our situation with this proposed pipeline makes it so difficult to not only relax, but concentrate on anything else. There are meetings to attend each week, reading material to absorb and official letters to read, interpret and interpret again. Keeping active does the mind well but it is during the down time when the brain starts to wander and wonder.

Originally I had written a whimsical post about the onset of fall and pieced together what I thought were the different phases of autumn as it pertains to the garden. It felt insincere when I went back to read and edit it, so without much thought, I deleted it all. It didn’t work and needed to go.

I haven’t felt whimsical in a long time and it felt dishonest to pretend to be so now. This blog has always had a lighter tone and hopefully some day it will return to that. That was how I felt at the time and I’ve come to realize that I’m only capable of writing in a manner that matches my mood.

That mood today is one of uncertainty. And as I photographed the garden in its current autumn state, I found myself desperately wanting fall to stick around. I am so dreading the dark and cold and dreary winter. I’ve come to realize that my garden is in its peak in fall and I just want it to stay that way for a long ass time.

So with that inspiring set-up (haven’t lost the sarcasm a bit) here are the bittersweet photos of my autumn garden.

Little bit of every color here.

driveway bedd fall


This shot represents the onset of fall with the fall colors of the Itea (Sweetspire) ‘Henry’s Garnet’ and Clethra (Summersweet) but with summer still hanging around with the never say die Petunias in the background.

fall back deck


Spent flowers just about ready to throw in the towel.

boltonia fall

sneezeweed fall

sneezeweed fall 2


The richness in color and texture is evident here and damn I wish I could hit the “pause” button.

side bed fall 2


Subtle changes on other plants warn of it what is to come.

abelia fall

phlox fall

geranium fall


My beloved grasses are all like “Sorry dude, we can only hold up for so long.”

northwind fall

clethra northwind fall

rots fall

amsonia fall 2


Flame grass is literally on fire and I can’t take my eyes off  of it.

flame grass fall

fall 5


And some are blooming (Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’) and some are on their way out (Clethra and Joe Pye Weed).

clethra joe pye fall




It’s Fall and that is OK

Yes, autumn has officially arrived and I will just have to accept it.

Sigh …

It may be in the high 70’s/low 80’s today, but judging by the current state of the garden, the fall has been here for a while now. And I have to admit, it looks freakin incredible.

Whether I like it or not, I realize that the Fall brings out the best in my own garden. Ornamental grasses are the focal point/star-of-the-show right now and as you may know, I like me some grasses.

Throw in some blooming perennials, fading-in-a-good-way plants, foliage changes on shrubs, some much needed rain and cooler weather and you have a recipe for some stunning views.

Here is the latest out in my garden:

Veronica ‘Royal Candles’ still blooming after multiple pruning attempts, Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’ and Micanthus purpurascens (Flame Grass).

grass sedum veronica


Dwarf sneezeweed and Micanthus purpurascens (Flame Grass).

grass sneezeweed 2

grass sneezeweed


Dwarf sneezeweed and Amsonia (Bluestar).

amsonia sneezweed


Panicum (Switch Grass) ‘Northwind’, Itea (Sweetspire) ‘Henry’s Garnet’ and Clethra (Summersweet).

northwind amsonia clethra


Red Twig Dogwood and Physocarpus (Ninebark) ‘Diablo’.

front bed


A different view of the prior mentioned plants.

front bed 3


Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ and Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed) ‘Gateway’.

joe pye pennisetum


Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed) and Boltonia (False Aster).

joe pye boltonia


Amsonia (Bluestar) and Physostegia (Obedient Plant) ‘Vivid’.

amsonia obedient