Toad Lily amongst Crepe Myrtle trunks

Toad Lily amongst Crepe Myrtle trunks

A different Fall color variant of native Red Maple

A different Fall color variant of native Red Maple

Good Fall color from Hosta

Good Fall color from Hosta

Sometimes there aren’t enough words to describe something you are looking at and Fall color fits that category. It is much easier photographed than it is described as each Fall brings new and different color variations. Variations are determined by our weather during the Summer followed by how cool it gets at night in September. If we have drought conditions in late Summer, trees and plants in general are going to want to start their dormancy as early as late August. They will want to drop their leaves with as little fuss as possible including any spectacular color changes. Another major factor is cool nights as trees are starting to go dormant. This helps to set the brilliant colors everyone loves to see. We did pretty well this year as rainfall was decent with no significant dry periods. And then it cooled down significantly in September with some chilly nighttime temperatures. Colors this Fall have been very good.

 

Color is not only manifested in leaf color of trees. Hosta this year has been pretty spectacular with their brilliant yellow color. Berries have colored up very nicely as evident by the red berries on the American hollies growing in the field behind my home. A couple of reliable performers in the perennial world are the Trycirtis family and the Dendranthema (Hardy mum) family. Trycirtis or Toad lily has small orchid-like flowers that grace arching stems by the hundreds. They keep developing more and more interesting flower variations for this family. Very worth having in the garden and it will take shade also! I planted the hardy mum in my garden just a few years ago and already I have had to divide and remove 50% because of pretty aggressive growth. It will take over in the garden if left unchecked but the late season show is worth it. This photo was taken a full 4 weeks into its’ flowering period.

 

A lot more photos than usual this time but it was worth it. Enjoy!

Japanese Katsura Tree fronted by a Fernleaf Full Moon Maple

Japanese Katsura Tree fronted by a Fernleaf Full Moon Maple

Native Red Maple

Native Red Maple

Living fossil - Gingko

Living fossil – Gingko

Fall berries of Satyr Hill Holly

Fall berries of Satyr Hill Holly

Autumn Clematis-227

Autumn Clematis on Crimson Queen Maple

Autumn Clematis on ground

Autumn Clematis on ground

Hosta 'Emerald Tiara' and Hosta halcyon in late Summer

Hosta ‘Emerald Tiara’ and Hosta halcyon in late Summer

Each season of each year brings something new to our weather table here in the Washington metropolitan area. One thing is for sure in our area, the weather is never the same. Sure we know it will be humid in the Summer but other than that who knows what a particular season will bring. The latter days of Summer this year were fairly cool and dry and then all the sudden it got pretty darn hot again which actually breathed new life into my tomato plants giving me some very delicious late season tomatoes! Nothing like a tomato sandwich in early October – that may have been a first for me using tomatoes from my garden.

 

Other things have also done well here at the end of the Summer especially some old standbyes such as Clematis paniculata. If you, or a neighbor, has this vine you know it comes up from seed readily throughout the garden. Sun or shade, it will perform. I like to let these seedlings grow in place and temporarily take over another plant or boulder or fence. In this case you can see it is growing over my Crimson Queen Weeping Japanese Maple. This is the second year I have allowed this Autumn Clematis seedling to grow over the Maple. I cut it back to about 12” high right after it finishes blooming to try and contain the seeds but most importantly to clear the Maple foliage so as not to adversely affect the plant. As long as I see no evident damage to the Maple I will allow this little seedling to continue. Another example is just to let the vine stretch out in the garden. It has such a beautiful carpet of deliciously fragrant flowers that it is well worth it to allow this vine to take over temporarily.

 

An unexpected late season performer this year was Hosta ‘Great Expectations’. In past years this guy was pretty crispy by the middle of September but here at the end of September this guy is still going strong.  In this particular photo Hosta halcyon is in the background, which is generally one of the best performing Hostas in our area. The blue leaved Halcyon has the advantage though of waxy leaves which helps to fend off slugs and other leaf eaters. This particular area of my garden gets sun until late morning. Each year our area brings unexpected joy in our gardens – it just depends on the weather we have gotten.