Someone recently asked me when my garden looks its best, and I immediately thought “July”. I’ve planted a lot of meadow perennials and grasses, and it takes a few months of warm weather for them to really get going. By early July, the grasses have all shown up, many of the perennials are in full flower, and those that aren’t usually have interesting post-flowering seed heads or pre-flowering buds.

But as my gardens mature, I find myself increasingly fond of those few weeks in mid-October that usher in cooler nights and (typically) our first frost. Part of the appeal is the colorful and relaxed chaos to which the asters, warm season grasses, Japanese anemones, chrysanthemums and other stars of autumn make such a dazzling contribution. These are all intentional plantings, of course, designed to take full advantage of our lovely fall weather and the blessing of a western exposure that frames the golden setting sun.

But equally charming are those unexpected jewels I find as I walk more leisurely around the garden now that the growing season is almost at its end.

The wild area that I’ve let grow up on the east side of the house glows with subtle beauty one morning in the early sunlight:

Meadow Oct 2015

A hardy hibiscus throws off a last, exceptionally vivid bloom:

Hibiscus in Fall

A fading hydrangea puts forth one final, tiny blue mophead:

Fading Hydrangea

And, on the eve of our first hard freeze, twin dahlia flowers fold their petals towards their chests — a clear signal that the garden, and its gardeners, can soon enjoy their rest:

Last Dahlia

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