I missed the peak of autumn colour this year in the Eastern Townships of Quebec — where colours are as good as (or better than?) any place in North America — because of some trips that took me away from home. So when a friend sent me a photo he took a week or so ago of the hills behind our house, I was delighted.
What a spectacle it was. Friends who were in the Townships say they have never seen colour so vibrant, that lasted for such a long time.
The colour is lasting still. Even though the height of the season is past, marvellous colours are still shouting, ‘hey, look at me.’
A few days ago, in a brief break from the rain that has been falling (finally!), I took a walk around the garden at Glen Villa. In the Lower Garden, the stephanandra (Stephanandra incisa ‘Crispa) by the steps to the Lower Garden was a treasure chest of gold, its rich colour enhanced by the tones of the stone wall beside it.
A random branch of spirea caught my eye, particularly since — tucked unexpectedly behind the leaves — a flower or two was blooming.
A lonely bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia) was blooming as well, but more powerful were the shades of red and green in its leathery leaves.
An old hydrangea that has been here for fifty years or so was brilliantly dressed. This shrub is one of my favourites — it reminds me of a similar shrub in our garden in Oakville, Ontario where we lived when our children were young.
On the bank of the lake, plumes of miscanthus were strikingly white against a dark green background. And how to describe the colour of the leaves? Orange caramel? Sticky toffee?
Orange and yellow are the dominant colours now, and the prairie dropseed (Sporabolus heterolepis ) at the Aqueduct combines them in a splendid burnt orange that reminds me of John Keats’ poem about autumn.
The poem opens with familiar words — “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.” The words and the poem as a whole speak more of mood than colour. Which isn’t surprising — mood is what autumn is all about. There’s sadness for what is gone and a wistful longing for what is to come. But for me the crisp air and blazing colour make the longing hopeful. When I see the arching prairie dropseed moving in a breeze, like “hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind,” I don’t mind that the air is cooler day by day. I feel happy.
Keats really captured the spirit of autumn. His lines reverberate and recall seasons past and present, when apples bend the “moss’d cottage-trees/ And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core…”
Today, as a light rain falls, the black trunk and branches of the linden tree at the end of the Big Meadow (aka, the Big Lawn) offer a startling contrast to the yellow leaves that linger. Despite the rain and winds, despite the sprinkle of snow and the light frost that greeted me a few morning’s ago, they are hanging on, ripe to the core.
What is autumn like in your part of the world? Does it make you sad or happy? Or both?
I got one out of four birch trees still green???????
We all know that B.C. is weird!
Your blog has lifted my spirits and cheered me no end as the days grow shorter – autumn is to be embraced, if nothing else. It will all turn again with the sharp grip of winter and then the promise that is spring. In the meantime, we should relish the beauty on offer and be glad.
Relish the beauty… I agree. And there’s never enough of it.
I recently realized that I like the “good” part of both spring and fall, but because the good part of spring comes after the “bad” part (aka mud season) of spring, I have an overall positive feeling about spring, and a more negative feeling about autumn. But really, mud season is just as grey and dreary as stick season–the part of autumn after leaf drop. It’s just the trend in autumn is towards colder weather and the trend in spring is towards warmer weather. It was a very good year for fall color here, too, and I do think it lasted a tad bit longer than usual. We still have the golden beeches, but most of the rest of the trees have dropped their leaves. Glorious sunshine, blue skies, and those colorful leaves lift the spirits. Grey skies, wind whipping either icy rain or soggy snow horizontally past the window–it kind of depresses me, but also makes me content to be inside. I find I am most likely to be sad if my goals for the garden were not achieved. This year I managed to accomplish quite a bit and am content to turn my thoughts and energies inward, literally and figuratively.
You aren’t alone in preferring the ‘good’ bits of the shoulder seasons — who doesn’t? I was out in the woods today and the beech trees and the larches are fabulous. But over the weekend when it rained solidly hour after hour, I was inside by the fire. I almost finished a good book, scanned some garden magazines to make me envious and thought about how I could make the garden better. Altogether, a thoroughly satisfying time.
Beautiful photographs. I envy people in New England and adjoining regions their fall color. It can be good here as well, but not the same. I think fall is a bit muted here, a lot of the foliage is still green. It’s been oddly warm.
Odd weather continues, Jason. Today it was 17C — totally unexpected after a week or so of really cold days, with a hard frost two days ago. I enjoyed your post about the walk around the neighbourhood, looking at trees.
Wow! Absolutely amazing! Our color is mixed this year…some vibrant, some drab, and some still green as green can be. Nothing like your show, to be sure. Love the cascades of Stephanandra and that fabulous photo of your home and hills reflected in the lake.
Thanks, Marian. Reflections in water make everything look doubly good.
Absolutely glorious images!
We are having a very good autumn here in South Wales this year, although usually it’s a bit damp and brown.
Nothing like as good as yours, though.
Autumn always makes me feel nostalgic and creative – I think it’s something to do with the school and college year starting and the days getting shorter.
All the best 🙂
Autumn makes me feel nostalgic, too, Pat. Interesting that you combine that emotion with creativity. We’ve just adjusted the clocks, adding an extra hour of daylight. I’m glad of that, particularly today when the sun is shining and the sky is blue… the best that autumn offers.