We had a day of life-giving rain yesterday. That’s the good news. But days of wind, followed by yesterday’s day of rain brought most of our New England fall colors to an end around us. The mighty oaks are attempting to hang on to their russet colored leaves but the bright yellows and butterscotch leaves of maples have fallen.
However I’ve planned for that. I can still be a leaf peeper in our own backyard with our three enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus) shrubs. One is ablaze of crimson shades, one a luminescent amber, and the third is a lovely mix of both shades. What a showstopper they are for us as we gaze from our window.
During the summer, the plants sport blue-green foliage and blend into the landscape, but in the spring we are rewarded with pendants of delicate bell-shaped blooms with red veins as shown in this photo from last spring. If the blooms remind you of andromeda (Pieris), it is in the same family.
These shrubs are young and slow growing. At full growth, they can reach the height of a small understory tree. I have read that they don’t like pruning but I’m hoping to be judicious in training the shrubs as they grow. It’s then they can join our other understory trees, the serviceberry trees (Amelanchier), below, that are giving us lovely orange-red fall color now and offer a profusion of spring blooms, as well.
Leftover flowers and greens from a horticulture display at our garden club gave me a lovely array of fall flora at home. I wouldn’t call it a brainstorm but an idea borrowed from my Virginia garden club prompted a suggestion to my Exeter garden club…. a sharing of horticulture from members’ gardens at meetings when our New England weather permits.
The request for horticulture was emailed to members and my fingers were crossed that we’d have a few members who would share cuttings. That was my hope before we awoke yesterday to total darkness…. the nor’easter bomb cyclone that passed through at 3 a.m. took our power and left us groping for flashlights in morning darkness. Reaching out to our president, who was also in darkness, I found that the meeting site has a generator. The meeting was on whether we had power or not.
It was light at 8:30 am when mister gardener manually opened our heavy wood garage door allowing me to exit with my hort samples. A small table set aside for hort was already full when I arrived and we quickly replaced it with a 6′ table. The hort kept coming until the larger table overflowed with garden goodies. Anemones, chrysanthemums, Heptacodium, reblooming iris in bloom, an Oxydendrum twig, deutzia, dianthus, Montauk daisies, sedum, zinnias, Canadian ginger, and much more. Some IDs said, “What am I?” and we could answer one or two of them.
It was a good response from members and a teaching experience as well. Good to know what is still looking good in our New England gardens in October.
And as I was leaving the meeting, a text from mister gardener alerted me that our power had just been restored. Time to make a pot of coffee at noon!
The maple trees are putting on quite a show on the Seacoast of New Hampshire even though the foliage map puts us in the Moderate Range for color. I know the reds are yet to come but the yellows and apricots simply make my heart sing. The maples pictured below were photographed on a walk with mister gardener yesterday.
Closer to home, there are interesting colors right around the house. The clethra or summersweet below, has fed the bees with sweet nectar for weeks. But now the blooms are gone and the leaves are fading from green to yellow with the green veining the last to turn. Eye catching!
Our doublefile viburnum leaves have turned from green to deep plum and hot red in different spots on the same plant. It is a showstopper.
Then there are the hydrangea.
Our Little Lime limelight hydrangea are a bold mass planting in our small borders and the blooms are deepening to a rich pink. I have picked a bouquet or two for drying.
… a holly-looking shrub, is healthy and sprouting buds that are supposed to mature to gorgeous early yellow blooms, feeding early arriving insects with snow still on the ground, then hang like grapes with the attractive blue seeds that birds adore. It never gets that far for our New England winters freezes the blooms before they open. That might be a good thing for the plant could be eventually labeled invasive here as the climate changes. Birds carry the seeds far and wide in warmer climes… it is a barberry cousin.
Some of our plants love the cooler weather and are at their best in the fall. Liriope blooms are maturing now and it’s where the bees are swarming from flower to flower for the best nectar. This grass-like clump of glossy green leaves run along the outer border of our front foundation. This year the plants are healthy and quite tall due to an abundance of spring rain. The flowers are dainty but the contrast of green and purple is delightful.
My personal fav of all fall color is Autumn Joy sedum, below. After the bees have finished with the newly opened blooms and moved on to other plants, the Autumn Joy matures to a rich rusty red. It’s great to see in the borders and it’s wonderful to cut and bring inside for floral displays. If you grow it, wouldn’t you agree it’s impressive?
Other than a bit of cleaning and weeding and dividing and transplanting in the garden this fall, it seems I’m spending more time with another small sprout…. one that demands much more care and attention and watching and feeding and entertaining…. but is proving to be much more fun!
We awoke to a temperature of 30° this October 5th morning. Last night I walked around the garden and said goodbye to the colorful annuals in the borders. My patch of small zinnias were lovely and full of bees yesterday. Today the blooms are gone. My cheerful impatiens gone. My favorite snapdragons? Faded but survived. Marigolds? Gone. My gorgeous purple vervain? Gone.
I covered my tomato plant last night hoping to save the plant that is chock-a-block full of green tomatoes.
Yesterday’s tomato plant
It was a fail. The plant is very sad looking today. There will be another freeze or frost tonight so tomatoes will be picked and used in the kitchen… fried, green tomato jam, relish, plus experimenting with new recipes like the Green Tomato Breakfast Bread I made yesterday using shredded green tomatoes.
The recipe may seem somewhat farfetched but it passed inspection by mister gardener. The sweet breakfast bread recipe that is said to be from East Europe. I started with tomatoes, then added dried cranberries for New England, some walnuts that we both love and the result was a sweet and moist winner that we enjoyed for dinner last night and breakfast this morning.
PS: We couldn’t taste the tomatoes!
We draw the line at things like green tomato hotcakes or green tomato smoothies… but if there are any suggestions for using up green tomatoes, we’d like to know!