Harbingers of Autumn

When I originally started thinking about this post, it was last weekend, and I was thinking about all the changes I was already seeing in the garden.  Around me, starlings were harvesting dogwood berries and grackles were busy in the pine trees.  I could see the many seasonal changes that were already beginning to happen and it was making me very sad.  Summer is far too short as it is in Connecticut especially after a winter like last winter.

Then I got to work on Tuesday and was confronted with the above!  Talk about a rude reality check!  It seems our maintenance folk were cleaning out one of the closets and they were relocating some of the ice melt products from one place to the other.  But it really gave my heart a little jolt to see this and to think how soon we might actually need it!

What I’m seeing in the garden is far more pleasant of course–and that’s why I live in a place with seasons.  My hydrangeas that already have bloomed are burnishing all sorts of glorious tones.  Here’s a look at Endless Summer as it fades–and it will get deeper yet as the season progresses.

(Ignore the weeds–it’s been a very wet 10 days!)

And here’s a better idea of why they call this one Lady in Red!

Everything–foliage, stems and fading flowers are definitely redder than when I posted about it over the summer.

And of course here’s the star of the late summer garden just coming into bloom–the PeeGee hydrangea.  It’s a bit bedraggled because of all the rain but it should stand back up once it’s dried out a bit.  And these flowers will continue to open, then they’ll turn to a light pink and finally bronze a bit as the season goes on.

The little wood asters are just beginning to open.

But of course along with all of those, comes the ragweed.

The crab apples on the tree are maturing nicely despite the cedar apple rust.

This tree has what’s known as “persistent fruit.”  That means that the fruit stays on the tree until it is eaten by the birds.  That used to be in the early spring by the robins but I find now that they eat it earlier and earlier.  Crab apple fruit normally is one of those fruits, like holly fruit, that birds and other wildlife leave until later in the season.  Perhaps because this is one of the earlier ripening varieties it gets eaten earlier.

This is the fruit from prunus serotina, the black or wild cherry.  Obviously it does not stay on the tree.  It is beloved by lots of wildlife–birds of all sorts–I’m always finding the pits in my bird baths.  I’ve even seen fox standing over clusters of the fruits eating it.  Douglas Tallamy mentions this tree specifically as one that is particularly good for wildlife–but because the fruit does drop it is messy.  And it is a tall tree as well.

So nature has indicated that fall is on the way, ready or not.  I just hope she holds off on winter a bit!

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