Light in August

The light changes in August, and so does the feel of the garden. The days have begun to shorten and the sun is lower in the sky. The light still brings heat, but there is a softening, especially in late afternoon.


This was demonstrated over the weekend as the aptly named Golden Glow (Rudbeckia laciniata) reflected the rays of the setting sun. All those yellow daisies of August seem designed to catch the waning light.

That’s the neighbors’ house in the background, by the way.

DSC_0061Another picture of the Golden Glow, bracketing Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) and Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum ‘Gateway’).


DSC_0065The Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) is also something of a sun worshiper. Perhaps it grows so tall because it wants to be near the light.

DSC_0097Here’s a closer look.

DSC_0174This is an overview of the front garden from the property line. The flowers of ‘Raspberry Wine’ Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) are fading but they still have a nice late-afternoon glow.

DSC_0094Here’s ‘Raspberry Wine’ mingled with Brown-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba).

DSC_0086Grasses also appreciate the August light.

DSC_0066Especially the Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), with it’s dangling seedheads.

DSC_0087And the Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum), which seems to be standing at attention.

DSC_0070This is the Switchgrass cultivar ‘Shenandoah”. It’s a naturally occurring variety that was discovered in Germany. Some people call it Red Switch Grass.

DSC_0205The blue flower spikes of Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) don’t glow like the yellow and orange summer flowers. Even so, the late afternoon light shows them to good advantage.

Here we are in the middle of August already. We got here so fast that I suspect someone has managed to skip days of the calendar, covertly and without being detected. Speaking for myself, I do not intend to let summer go without a struggle. I’m not above a little pleading and wheedling, even. In any case, I hope you enjoy these last days of the season.

That’s all for now.

38 Comments on “Light in August”

  1. The yellow flowers in the garden are just right for autumn light. I like the Northern Sea Oats and the Red Switch Grass, they could almost be part of a flower arrangement. The last month of our summer is so hot we all look forward to autumn, and the colours the colours!

  2. Lovely photos. Your garden is simply gorgeous right now, especially in that warm afternoon light. I hope you get your wish and it lasts a long time. But consider this…when October rolls around, come spend a week at a SC beach. The crowds are gone, the water and sun are still warm, and seafood is at its best. That’s my idea of heaven!

  3. Photos and captions capture the magic of autumn light perfectly. Midwest Groundcovers only carries R. laciniata in flats of 38 — what a shame! Same for Prairie Dock and many others that make fine ornamentals. Instead we get the “same old, same old”. That leaves gardeners with seed or mail order perhaps. I ended up by using Rudbeckia Herbstonne in a client’s garden (mostly natives) as a result.

  4. If I lived in your neighbourhood, I’d walk past your front garden at least once a day to gaze upon all the beautiful blooms. It’s a triumph. Hoping for summer to linger a little longer here, too, but there’s a definite autumnal hint in the light (and weather).

  5. Beautiful photos of the late afternoon light. It does seem to change about now, doesn’t it? Sometimes I think it would be neat to spend the last couple of weeks of August camping or at a cottage–far away from the “back to school” ads and people complaining about how the summer is over, etc. (I’m guilty of this sometimes, myself. πŸ˜‰ ) To truly savor those last beautiful days of the season. It really is a lovely time of year, if a little depressing.

  6. Well, I think the light is less where you live (and that’s good), but here, we’re still being barbequed, grilled, fried, and steamed. This will change for us, in Texas, sometime in September. Maybe. I hope! As always, your garden looks great, and I particularly like that switch grass.

  7. You have such a beautiful garden – and no doubt it’s loved by pollinators and wildlife as much as people!

    I always enjoy seeing the seasons changing on the other side of the world – while your garden is preparing itself for winter, here in New Zealand, our garden is just starting to show signs of spring, and making promises for the summer to come. πŸ™‚

  8. Hello Jason, we’re beginning to notice this too. The mornings are cooler to begin with and the light is beginning to change, there’s more yellow due to the lower angle and with our trees, the back-lighting makes for some very picturesque scenes that my camera can’t do justice to.

  9. I noticed the light had changed dramatically this week too, just as you described, the sun is lower in the sky and the light is softer st the end of the day; unlike you I yearn for an end to the torrid summer we have suffered this year.

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