The colors of autumn, before leaves turn

While leaves are slow to turn with summer temperatures extending into October, the garden remains colorful with abundant blooms. Without a doubt, cold weather and colorful leaves will be here soon, but I’m in no rush to be rid of this unusual warmth. 

While the pink blooms of Encore azalea ‘Carnation’ (above) are hardly my favorite, the azalea is the most dependable for flowering in late summer and early autumn, and blooms persist for weeks. Flowers of another dependable autumn bloomer, ‘Twist’ are just beginning, much later than usual. Flowers of other Encore azaleas are more scattered in autumn, with some flowering through November if temperatures are not too cold.

Toad lilies (Tricyrtis formosana var. grandiflora ‘W-Ho-ping Toad’, above) are at peak bloom in early October. Flowers will persist through light frosts, but fade quickly following a hard frost or freeze.

The tall, coarse leafed clump of Tatarian daisy (Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’, above) was rescued as a wide spreading paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha) crowded it. The transplant of the tall growing aster was easy, but the location beside a second paperbush is only temporary until a better spot can be found.  

Seedlings of ‘Chocolate’ Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’, above) rise through a clump of variegated liriope (Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’). Foliage of seedlings is not as dark as the parent plant, which is long gone as far as I’m aware. 

Flowers of Autumn crocus (Colchicum, above) have been short lived in this early autumn. The white colchicum lasted only a few days in warm temperatures.

Berries of ‘Duet’ beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Duet’, above) are smaller than other beautyberries, but while other beautyberries are unremarkable through spring and summer, the variegated foliage is an added attraction.

A clump of several ‘Winterberry’ hollies (Ilex verticillata ‘Winterberry’, above) is loaded with berries. While leaves will drop soon, berries will persist into early winter.

While leaves of native dogwoods (Cornus florida, above) are scarred by black spot, and autumn coloring is late, trees are loaded with berries and buds for spring’s flowers. Another dogwood in the neighborhood is changing (below), but it has no berries, and no flower buds are evident. Berries are nearly ripe, so trees will soon be stripped bare by birds.

With plentiful rainfall through the summer, the ‘Orange Dream’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream’, below) in a container on the patio beside the koi pond has grown substantially in late summer. While foliage fades to green in summer, new growth is more colorful. Japanese maples display some of the most colorful autumn foliage, but this is the color of new growth, not leaves fading into winter.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. willowmanvt says:

    Great color and great photo Dave!

    Sonia and Michael Dodge Vermont Willow Nursery 1943 Ridge Road N Fairfield VT 05455 [email protected]

    640 Avenida Colima Santa Fe NM 87506 (Nov>Mar)


    1. Dave says:

      Despite summer-like temperatures, leaves are fading and just beginning to change color in shorter days. But, flowers that fade at the first frost are going strong. Last week when I was in northern Pennsylvania where temperatures were twenty degrees cooler than in Virginia, but there was little foliage color along rt. 81. I assume that in Vermont you’ve had frost, and autumn colors.

  2. Ruth says:

    Dear Dave, I had no idea there were autumn crocuses!!! Thank you for the lovely pictures as always! 😀

    1. Dave says:

      Autumn crocus is a misnomer since these are not truly crocus, but colchicum. Still, this is the common name. Flowers of Colchicum are considerably larger than crocus blooms. Nothing bothers them, except too much warm weather that causes them to fade too quickly.

  3. tonytomeo says:

    You are the second one to mention how slow autumn is this year. Some regions have less color that we do. Our sweetgum trees are already coloring somewhat. It is so backward.

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