Fall brings new colors and textures

Published 9:00 am Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tiger eye sumac displays beautiful colors in the fall. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Tiger eye sumac displays beautiful colors in the fall. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

The colors and textures of the fall gardens brings a bittersweet moment to me as I begin to realize we are coming close to the end on another gardening season. We have had so much rain this summer and lots of mosquitoes making it not always fun to be working in the gardens.  As I walk the gardens and see the beautiful colors of the sedums and mums in the front entry garden it makes me stop and take a close look at the different textures.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Ferny foliage of astilbe whose flowers have turned brown add such a lacy element to the gardens in contrast to rudbeckia that is still blooming with their bright yellow flowers and black eyes. The green leaves of verbena bonariensis are narrow and sparse so the plants are light and airy with their lilac colored flowers that draw in the butterflies, bees and hummingbirds are scattered throughout the gardens. When I look at the dried out foliage of the dill some of it is still standing tall along the driveway garden. I have collected seeds for others, but the heads add such a beautiful texture to the gardens. I almost hate to take them out.

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In several of the gardens, as well as a couple of containers, the tall and elegant pennisetum grasses sway with the wind while the burgundy and green leaves. They add so much interest with their showy plumes in shades of burgundy. The lime green of the tiger eye sumac catches my breath when I enter the backyard. A bit of trimming on this lovely shrub was needed as it had become quite overgrown making it difficult to mow or traverse the area beside it.

All of the hydrangea blooms are now starting to turn from white, green or pink to a lovely shade of brown as the panicle heads dry down. What a lovely addition to the gardens these have proven to be adding not only color and texture, but adding height to the front of the borders they are planted in. Some of these shrubs are planted in the ground, but four of them are in containers along the front and side of the house hiding the foundation. In the back is my lovely pinky winky standing tall as a small tree specimen it has grown to about six feet tall with great shape, texture and pink colored panicles. It did just what I wanted in this small garden by making a statement when you walk towards it.

Last year I planted cimicifuga hillside beauty in two gardens. With its nearly black foliage that is quite lacy, the flower head reaches high above it with creamy colored blooms that just make you stop and take a closer look at this gem. If I can find room I would love to add several more of these plants in the shady areas of the garden where they are planted.

It won’t be long and the Japanese maple will turn blood red adding such a punch of color that will really grab your attention while the leaves of the pagoda dogwood will turn bright burgundy. While most of the other trees turn shades of orange or yellow the colors from these two small ornamental trees really capture the essence of autumn. It’s just another reason to add small ornamental trees and shrubs to your gardens.

George Elliot wrote this about autumn and I think I could do the same: “Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” As much as I hate to see the gardens coming to the end of a glorious season the colors of autumn are so magnificent that I wish it could last longer. The bright colors really scream for your attention and taking a deep breath to enjoy such beauty that is so fleeting. The crispness of the morning and evening air, the brightness of the sky where stars shine so brightly, the smell of burning leaves and that wonderful sensation of biting into a juicy apple come and go in the blink of an eye.

The gardens are waning and it will be time to cut them down soon. I look at where I can add texture and color for next year’s gardens to make it even more spectacular throughout the different seasons. We must not forget to add winter interest to our gardens with trees, shrubs and garden ornaments.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”  — Albert Camus


Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears weekly. Email her at carolhegellang@gmail.com.