Flickering Like Flames: Scarlet Red, Brilliant Orange & Burnished Gold … Early Signs of Change in the Garden…

September 14th, 2010 § 3 comments

The bold vermillion of late summer: Rosa rugosa’s bright and beautiful hips

Cobalt-Violet Annual Asters Fill Beds Planned for Cutting in the Potager…

This morning, I watched as a flock of sparrows splashed joyfully in a tiny pool on the stone terrace. Showers passed through the area yesterday afternoon and evening; refreshing the garden and leaving behind a temporary bird bath for my winged-guests. Every day now, when I look out the window, I notice more and more traces of red and gold in the meadow and along the distant hillside. Changes are evident in both the flora and the local fauna. The seasonal shift has started a bit early here; caused, perhaps, by unusually hot and dry conditions this summer. The natural world is changing rapidly now; heralding the arrival of a new season.

Trees and shrubs planted in shallow soil along the northwestern corner of the garden are already beginning to shift hues. Red leaves outnumber green this week on one ‘Shasta’ viburnum (V. plicatum var. tomentosum) in particular, and the tea viburnum (V. setigerum ) is loaded with Chinese-orange berries. The viburnum genus includes many species with fantastic autumn color —both in terms of foliage and fruit— and planting them in and amongst perennials is a great way to add late season pizazz to a garden.  It’s no secret that these are my favorite shrubs. Not only are common and rare species and cultivars of the genus planted everywhere in my garden —and in almost every garden I design for others— but I post viburnum photos on this blog and talk and write about them constantly. Two lovely swing-season plants, among the many possible options to use when designing a garden around viburnum, are asters and ornamental grass. ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ asters bloom here every September and October in the most exquisite shade of blue imaginable; like the sky itself on an early autumn day. These flowers are beloved by bees and butterflies, especially in the latter half of the year, as natural sources of food begin to grow more scarce. Beautiful in the vase as well as in the garden, annual asters —packets of seed sprinkled about the flower beds in early spring— are an easy way to add bold color and vary the seasonal tapestry in a mixed border. And I also like to use mound-shaped ornamental grasses, with their soft textures and varied hues —particularly the pennisetums— to add a softness and grace at the foot of leggier viburnums, such as the tea (V. setigerum) and bodnant (V. bodnantense)…

Viburnum plicatum tomentosum ‘Shasta’

Aster oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ Pulls the September Sky Down to Earth…

The Gorgeous Chinese-Orange Berries of Tea Viburnum ( V. setigerum )

I find it impossible to pass by Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ without running my fingers through her downy tufts. They remind me a bit of another local resident…

Red Fox – Meadow’s Edge at Ferncliff

Wild Turkey – Forest Boundary at Ferncliff

Sparrows Splashing on a Terrace at Ferncliff

A Passing Shower Provides Temporary, Late Summer Bathing for Birds

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Article and photos are ⓒ Michaela at TGE

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§ 3 Responses to Flickering Like Flames: Scarlet Red, Brilliant Orange & Burnished Gold … Early Signs of Change in the Garden…"

  • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    You are so lucky to have such great neighbours. Love your foxy friend – what a poster boy (girl?). We had a foxes’ den in the field next door when I was a kid, so your photo really takes me back (there you go again). And the turkeys.. a Tom, a Hen and eight poults? Wow, what a big family! Don’t you just love the bronze tones in her breast feathers? I always imagined them in an elegant brocade gown with a billowing velvet cape… very Romeo and Juliet.

  • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Um, awkward! I hope you know that I meant their tones, not the feathers themselves! On second thought, this imagined outfit would also be suitable at Wuthering Heights…

  • Michaela says:

    Hi Deb,
    Turkey are fascinating to watch. They come to the meadow every afternoon and yes, they are very bronzy-looking in the golden light!
    Last week, the fox was hunting mice in the meadow, but the turkey thought he was hunting them. The Tom was all riled up and put on quite the display.
    Living here is great entertainment.
    I’m saving up for a good zoom lens, so I can share more of the excitement.
    I loved our neighborhood fox when I was growing up… even after he killed my two pet chickens (story for another day)…
    ;) Michaela

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