A Slow Fall

Autumn this year has not been very autumnal. From childhood I associate fall with a raw chill and leafy puddles. This year, however, has been unusually dry and warm, conditions associated with more modest seasonal color.

Spicebush leaves.
Spicebush leaves.

There is still some color to be seen, though.


The Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) leaves have turned a buttery yellow.

Virginia Creeper
Virginia Creeper

The Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) climbing up the telephone poll in the alley is now red and orange.

DSC_0717 Virginia creeper

It’s starting to climb along my back fence as well.

Cranberrybush Viburnum
Cranberrybush Viburnum

Like a lot of trees and shrubs that normally show a dramatic color by now, the Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum opulus var. americanum) is still mostly green. There are a few spots of maroon red, though, and other areas are starting to turn.

'Autumn Brilliance' Serviceberry
‘Autumn Brilliance’ Serviceberry

‘Autumn Brilliance’ Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora) usually lives up to its name, but this year it dropped a lot of leaves early, diluting its normal visual impact.


If you look down the street in front of our house you can see that some of the trees have turned, though I would argue there is still less color than there would be in a typical late October.

Solomon's Seal
Solomon’s Seal

But back to our own garden. In addition to the shrubs and trees, some perennials are showing foliage color, like this Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum).

Little Bluestem 'Jazz'
Little Bluestem ‘Jazz’

And let’s not forget the grasses. I have a clump of Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)planted just this year, including the straight species and the varieties ‘Jazz’ and ‘Carousel’. Looking forward to seeing these grasses bulk up.

Little Bluestem straight species
Little Bluestem straight species

The straight species Little Bluestem may tend to flop, but I think its color is just as good as the cultivars.

Switchgrass 'Shenandoah'
Switchgrass ‘Shenandoah’

There’s also a ‘Shenandoah’ Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in this spot that I rescued from another location where it was being shaded out. I’m glad to say it is making a decent comeback.

'Northwind' Switchgrass
‘Northwind’ Switchgrass

There are two great big clumps of ‘Northwind’ Switchgreass in the Sidewalk Border. This year there seems to be a bit more orange in its normal tan fall color.

DSC_0750 switchgrass

I wonder if this also is a result of the weather.

Northern Sea Oats
Northern Sea Oats


Northern Sea Oats
Northern Sea Oats

Finally, there is Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), always a star among grasses in fall and late summer.

It should be mentioned that again Judy is out of town so I had to take these pictures myself. Grasses are tricky, aren’t they?

I am linking this post with Christina’s Garden Bloggers Foliage Day, at My Hesperides Garden. Check out her blog for more beautiful autumn foliage.

How is the fall color in your garden this year?

38 Comments on “A Slow Fall”

  1. It may be less vibrant than your usual October colour, Jason, but it’s still looking beautiful where you are. I love that street view. And grasses are such fabulous garden plants – your Switchgrass and Northern Sea Oats are looking lovely.

  2. Everything is drying up in my garden. I can’t say there is a lot of color. Of course the Virginia Creeper is red, but most of the trees and things are seemingly drying up before doing a lot of pretty color. We are officially in a moderate drought. Seems more than moderate to me. Fall seems to be playing tag with summer. A day or two with cool fall weather then several days with temps in upper 70s and 80s. It has been an odd fall so far. I planted some Little Blue Stem this year. I hope it grows up to be a showy grass. It does have some color to it this fall.

  3. Love all the reds and yellows! ‘Shenandoah’ is one of my favorites, and it will look gorgeous when it gets nice and big. I don’t think we’ve had quite as many colors as usual due to the dry summer, but we still have a pretty good show. Fall is in full swing!

  4. We are having similar conditions, after a wet summer the autumn weather has been much better and many plants are still flowering strongly whereas in a typical year they would be going over. Interesting to see your Solomon’s Seal is free from its sawfly, don’t you have it over there?

  5. I would much rather have a chilly autumn — not frosty, but crisp. I love the smell and sound of fallen leaves. Now that I’m in Zone 10, though, autumn still feels like summer — but there are some very subtle changes. Still, I miss the crisp. 🙂

  6. Hello Jason, the view down your street looks very pretty with the greens, pinks and oranges and we would call that really good autumn colour so I can only imagine the display you are used to seeing. We’ve recently had cold nights but warm days which has made this year’s autumn display better than usual, but it still cannot compare.

  7. Yes, strange fall. I’m thankful for the mild weather, but sad that the color changes happened in the blink of an eye. Beautiful photos, Jason. I noticed that the Virginia Creeper seemed especially colorful this year for some reason. I haven’t noticed much color on my Cranberrybush Viburnum, so I’ll have to check it tomorrow.

  8. I envy you your Spicebush–I planted one one year; the first winter it died back by half and the 2nd winter finished it. Out here, away from the lake, I think it needs a protected location. I also envy Evanston’s wonderful street trees–ours are so much sparser and badly pruned.

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