I always have mixed feelings as the first real freeze approaches.
I know the freeze will blast the tender annuals that have provided a long season of color and mark the official end of the growing season. My days of puttering in the garden will soon draw to a close. I’ll do some clean-up and rake some leaves but garden visits will be more about watching and less about doing.
But the freeze will also intensify the reds, oranges and golds of turning leaves. The Amsonia will put on a brilliant show and the Sedum will mellow into rich rusts and maroons. It’s the garden’s finale before dormancy. And for those of us who are always hoping for good lighting, it doesn’t get any better than this.
A monarch butterfly feasts on a Mexican sunflower, Tithonia rotundifolia, before making its long migration south.
This winning combination of Autumn Fire stonecrop (Sedum x ‘Autumn Fire’), Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) and Threadleaf bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) keeps on giving, even in autumn’s waning days.
A chartreuse St. John’s wort (Hypericum calycinum ‘Brigadoon’) mingles happily with black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) and a yellow sport of a Sheffield pink chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum ‘Sheffield Pink’).
The fading flower heads of Thunderhead stonecrop (Sedum telephium ‘Thunderhead’) and Brazilian verbena (Verbena bonariensis) stand in rich contrast to Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima).
The pale golds and soft browns of declining plume poppy (Macleaya cordata) and Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum ‘Gateway’) are harbingers of shades to come.
Featured photo: The silvery tones of blunt mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) and Karl Foerster feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’) contrast pleasingly with the golden hues of Amsonia hubrichtii.