Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Beautiful Fall

This fall was one of the finest autumns for color in a long time, and started early. I was surprised to see the trees start turning before Halloween this year. Most of the time the weather has been warm and beautiful, with sunshine ranging from golden to milky, and reminded me of an article about Indian Summer that I love. Many of the leaves fell during the recent polar vortex, but there will be color from blueberries, swamp cyrilla etc well into December.

Most of these pictures were taken in the first and second weeks of November.

I was thrilled with the color of the big dogwood this year. (The rest of the dogwoods I have are much smaller trees I grew from seed; this one was revealed when woods were cleared when the house was moved. Once a spindly tree it has filled out beautifully.) It was ruby/claret/crimson rather than the usual dark burgundy and the leaves had a wonderful stained glass quality that shimmered in the sunlight and against the gold and pumpkin shades of the neighboring red maples. I've noticed that many dogwoods in upland areas here turned very dark in autumn, almost reddish-black some years, and I have wondered if the sandy soil has anything to do with that. I don't remember them being that dark in Durham County (clay) or in Chapel Hill (loam over clay).

Red maples vary from yellow to orange to the occasional pure red and every shade in between.

Red maples and willowleaf aster 'Miss Bessie'

This willowleaf spicebush makes such a pumpkin orange splash that I want to grow more
from seed next year and plant them next to the wood's edge, along with the native species.

View from drive above the house and neighbor's pasture. From left to right:
rugosa, first breath of spring (winter honeysuckle), willowleaf aster 'Miss Bessie',
'Knockout' rose, and prairie rose (Rosa setigera). The yellow tree in the
background is I believe a red maple that always turns yellow or gold in the fall.

View of same yellow maple from the front porch.

'Miss Bessie' and American beautyberry. The red tree is water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica).

After sporting many colors, yellow, orange and red, the tupelo turned a brilliant shade of red.
The pictures above were taken November 10th, and the picture below Veteran's Day, November 11th.

This apricot-colored red maple would always catch my eye from inside the house.

The sorrel trees (Oxydendrum arboreum) didn't lose all of their
leaves from leaf spot, so the what was left turned crimson.

The small tree with the fiery color in the bottom left is a witch hazel grown from seed.

The witch hazel never disappoints. The pollen parent was Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena', a cultivar that has orange flowers. This tree has yellow flowers (which I like very much). The leaves never drop until after the tree flowers in late winter but that is typical of witch hazels. So is beautiful fall color. Next year I'm going to check to see if this tree produces any seed and is so I will grow more. I want to add the native vernal and common witch hazels too, both of which have yellow/gold fall color and fragrant flowers. The JC Raulston Arboretum used to have Hamamelis vernalis 'Christmas Cheer' and the fragrance was very sweet.

Coastal pepperbush, aster 'Miss Bessie', and the apricot red maple.

Coastal pepperbush grows wild all around the old house site.

Coastal pepperbush also grows in the ditch behind the big bed.

The color of the leaves varies from pale butter yellow in deep shade to brilliant gold in the sun.

Japanese beautyberries in the backyard. This year I have gone back and forth wondering if I should let them stay, mostly because next to the house is valuable gardening real estate. The tall yellow shrub in the back is a mockorange, and the purple on the steps is the lining of my winter coat. The stuff in the lower right hand corner is Monarda, Verbena bonariensis, and Baptisia stems, which I will leave up over the winter as cover for the birds.

Rugosas beside the drive. They are just beginning to turn now and often turn beautiful colors in the fall.

Prairie rose (Rosa setigera) in the foreground and water tupelo in the background.
The prairie roses will provide a smattering of colorful leaves until very late.

Speaking of late, some of the Virginia sweetspire and many of the blueberries are at their peak, and the swamp cyrillas and oakleaf hydrangeas are turned about halfway.

Blueberry beside drive, Nov 11th.


  1. No landscape architect could put together a more beautiful fall garden. The 11th photo is my favorite - what a vibrant mix of colors!

    1. Thank you Kris, for your very kind words! You've made my week/month/year!

  2. WOW! What beautiful fall colors! The 4th photo really zapped me with the purple hues of the tree trunks. That is how DH and I chose the paint color for our house. Those purple hues in the barks of the pine trees on our property. The color on the house changed with the time of day, from purple, to brown, to gray.

    I want to thank you for this glorious fall tour. I thoroughly enjoyed it. All so colorful and fabulous.

    Have a love, peace and joy filled Christmas holiday season. Happy baking too. :-) I know you do quite a bit of this at this time of year.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

    1. Thank you FlowerLady! What an imaginative and lovely way to pick a house color.

  3. Beautiful pictures of this lovely time of the year! That Blueberry bush sure turns a lovely color!! Hope you have had a wonderful Fall season and also wishing you a very Merry Christmas (just in case I don't get back here before then :)

  4. Your pictures show the most beautiful fall garden, such a wonderful fall colours mixed together. I love it!
    Wish you all a Happy Christmas season!

  5. Thank you Dorothy and Janneke! Wishing you a merry Christmas too!

  6. Such beautiful fall color! The photo taken on Veteran's Day is gorgeous--so many different colors! I'm not familiar with willowleaf spicebush, but I wonder if it will grow here. With that lovely foliage, I will definitely have to check it out. Our fall color is long gone, but I think this was one of the best color shows ever.

  7. Beautiful color! I love the shot taken on Veteran's Day with the pine trees and the purple aster below it. It is stunning!


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