Autumn’s Crescendo

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Autumn’s Crescendo

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

The crescendo of autumn is at hand, a last burst of colors before the more monochromatic winter landscape sets in.

The White Oak (Quercus alba) on the north side of the Visitor Center is at peak of color in burnt reds; and flanked by Sweetbays (Magnolia virginiana) in the best golden attire.

White Oak is a favorite tree and one was planted on either end of the Visitor Center back in the spring of 1997 after the building’s opening (this is a picture of the same tree in the above photograph). Both trees are now going on 30 feet tall and showing a strong upright, oval form with great fall colors. It’s interesting to imagine what they might look like in 400 years!

Many Viburnums put on quite a show in late fall and this Catskill Linden Viburnum (Viburnum dilatatum) is no exception.

The fall leaf colors are not as spiffy on its neighboring cultivar ‘Asian Beauty’ but the berries are sure colorful. The fruit will add winter ornament well past leaf fall into winter.

This Missouri native Southern Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum) sports beads of blue berries. Birds somehow have missed this particular one as some of our arrowwoods were de-fruited by migrating Eastern Kingbirds way back in late August. The birds are now at their winter home in Bolivia! Our berries helped fuel their migration which brings to mind Aldo Leopold’s great quote: hemisphere solidarity is new among statesman but not the feathered navies of the sky.

The Koreanspice Viburnums (Viburnum carlesii) are burning reds now and a good choice for replacing your invasive Burning Bushes (Euonymus alatus). We have spotted and removed many more burning bush from the woodlands around the gardens even though Powell Gardens has removed all the plants from its gardens.

The Flying Dragon Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata) has turned some interesting yellow hues and together with its “curlicue” green branching this image reminds me of an impressionist painting.

We have removed many of the tender plants from the Hummingbird Garden outside the Cafe and low and behold our Taylor Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) has returned. This is allegedly one of the hardiest palm selections from North Carolina and we planted one for trial many years back. It died to the ground but keeps coming back from the base, which is very unusual for this species as it normally has ONE growing point and if that is killed, the whole plant is killed. Plants always seem to defy what we write about them and try to make liars out of us whenever they can!

The views of the Heartland Harvest Garden from the silo overlook are quite wonderful as of Monday. Here the Kansas Star Quilt Garden of pasture and forage plants really stands out with autumn hues in the warm season grasses and greens of cool season grasses and legumes. This garden is at its finest now.

The Villandry Quilt Garden is also gorgeous from above with its late fall simplicity of winter cover crops in green mixed with a few summer leftovers and fall vegetable crops.

Blackberries are finally starting to turn their rich shades of red in throughout the Heartland Harvest Garden. Here they are quite nice growing in the fence on the edge of Barbara Damrosch’s Author’s Garden.

The masses of Oakleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) along the woodland edges near the Chapel’s trolley stop are rich shades of red now. This bold American native shrub is the quintessential colorful crescendo to our fall color season.

The hollow base of the old Swamp White Oak in front of the chapel is not yet a crescendo of color but Horticulturist Richard Heter cut the stump a bit lower and planted a natural seedling of Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) in the center of the stump! One day the dogwood will grow through the stump and provide a blast of rich fall color too.
I hope everyone takes a moment to take in the last glory of this exceptional fall season and does a little garden planning or planting to create future seasons of glorious autumn colors.