Beautiful Fall Moments

I wasn’t going to do a “fall” blog post. There are so many good articles about the beauties of fall, what more could I add? Besides, the month of October, for some reason, was busier than usual with volunteer work.

But then one day I was walking around the garden with my camera, and was captivated by a number of beautiful fall moments that I wanted to share. Take a look.

Still in Bloom

I let the broccoli plants go to seed and they have been blooming all summer, attracting bees even into November. Not native plants, but still great food for pollinators!
Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana). There are three kinds of native witchhazels, this one which is native to the Northeast and which blooms in the fall, and H. ovalis and H. vernalis which bloom in the spring. The most common witchhazel seen in nurseries is H. mollis, from China, or H. x intermedia, a hybrid.
Blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella cultivar) is a short-lived native. This plant, which I planted last year, has been blooming non-stop since July, even with only occasional deadheading.


Red chokeberries (Aronia arbutifolia) appear on this 4′ high and 2′ wide shrub in late summer. The flower is a pretty white lacecap which appears in June. These berries, very sour to humans, only lasted on the shrub a couple of days before the birds ate them.
Silky dogwood (Cornus amomum) is a large rounded shrub that can grow 10-12 feet tall. This one was planted last year in its preferred partial shade and got supplemental watering this year. Still, I was surprised to see berries. The birds got these berries, too.
Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) seems to be everywhere these days. Landscapers are using it as a hedge instead of privet – a big improvement! This one is part of a group of five dwarf cultivars, “Red Sprite”.


As I plant native pollinator plants in the cottage garden, I am seeing more seedheads that give fall and winter interest, and (I hope) provide some food and shelter for wildlife. This one is an anisy hyssop (Agastache spp.) that has long-blooming purple flowers for much of the summer.
Also in the cottage garden is beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) which has the advantage of both interesting seedheads and lovely fall color. There are dozens of named species and also dozens of cultivars available. This one has white blooms in late Junee. Behind it, with the burgundy foliage, is the cultivar ‘Dark Towers’, which also has white blooms.
Sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia ‘Sixteen candles’) produces distinctive sprays of white flowers which turn into these peppercorn-like seed clusters. The clusters persist throughout the winter, making this shrub easy to identify in winter. This particular cultivar is short, about 3′ tall, while the species is about 6′ tall.

Red Foliage

Cape Cod isn’t known for its spectacular fall color, but there are many bright spots. This Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a volunteer, sprawling under the spuce trees in the woodland garden. (This is also a good time of year to identify and remove that other bright red vine, poison ivy, with only three leaves.)
The species red maple (Acer rubrum) does change colors in the fall, but not like the sugar maples or the cultivars that are bred for brilliant fall color. I hadn’t realized that the “red” in red maple refers to the new leaves and flowers that appear in the spring, not the fall foliage. Lovely colors twice a year!
Maybe my favorite of the fall foliage is this oak-leaved hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). The leaves turn a lovely dark burgundy and have the deep veins that make this a sculptural beauty.


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