Autumn has officially arrived at the gardens in terms of weather. It was again chilly this morning but not unexpected for early October. It was cold enough to toast our tomatoes (Lycopersicon) over the past couple of nights as seen above. The peppers (Capsicum) have all been "compromised" as well. The day warmed up nicely although the breeze could still be biting in certain areas. Fall color is still peaking on some trees like the Amur maple (Acer ginnala) in the top photo. Those Amur maples in more light are getting a deep red coloration although the specimens in more shade still have some great orange and yellow too! While over 50% of our leaves have fallen, primarily off of cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) and hackberries (Celtis occidentalis), many trees are still approaching peak coloration. Two photos above is the 'Mr. Sun' fullmoon maple (Acer shirasawanum) in the shade garden which continues to get more intense pinkish-red daily. Speaking of fall color, check out the foamy bells (xHeucherella) below. This is the variety 'Golden Zebra'. The older leaves have become pink/orange while the newest leaves still show the characteristic yellow margins. What a neat look! Check the internet or other references for the summer color of this part-shade perennial The next photo down shows the flame grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens') turning orange with the creamy inflorescences becoming more showy in the landscape. I've seen fall color for this specific grass vary from a nice tangerine color to a very deep red depending on the season. Remember that it's not just trees and shrubs that will go thru an Autumn color transition.
We had some of our veteran volunteers helping out around the gardens today. Above is Bill who did a nice job collecting leaves near the Japanese garden. He also worked on repairing some equipment at the Horticulture Center and a multitude of other projects. Ron K. planted more bulbs in the woodland walk garden and continued his tidying up efforts in that vast space. Joanne cut back perennials in her garden space (formal perennial gardens) and accumulated quite a pile. Kay spent the entire morning in the English cottage garden removing frosted annuals and vegetables. Lynn S. did such a great job in that space all year but she's moving out of town in the near future. While we're bummed she's leaving, we certainly wish her the best and appreciate her heroic efforts. Dr. Gredler came in for some mowing/leaf collection and Dick H. worked on repairing equipment and vehicles at the Horticulture Center. Our Garden Development & Maintenance Committee included Gary, Dr. Gredler, Dr. Yahr, Big John, Christine R., Joanne, Iza and myself. Directly below is the transitioning fall color (green to bright red) of the 'Green Cascade' fullmoon maple (Acer japonicum) in the Japanese garden. This small specimen has great texture and the fall color is always a big hit with visitors. The next photo down shows the nice orange fall color of the 'Green Mountain' sugar maple (Acer saccharum) in the arboretum.
The grounds staff had a full day outside and took advantage of the cool temperatures to dive in to the sizeable task of removing spent annuals around the gardens. To start the day, Big John, Pat and Larry hauled in most of our untested Holiday Lights Show (HLS) lights and we'll get them ready to go over the next week or two. Janice tested and repaired quite a few lights this morning and decorated our first of many obelisks with LED lights. Janice also removed plants from many locations and spent time cutting down the hostas in the hosta hollow garden. John and Pat had similar duties but in different areas. The guys removed annuals, cut back perennials and tidied up as they went along. John continued his removals in the sunken garden while Pat finished removing the last of the plantings in the Smelly Garden. Next year, the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden will feature a pollinator garden for which Kris will develop specific programs, activities and events. The Smelly Garden was a blast and we'll always incorporate fragrant plants around the gardens. However, this pollinator garden should be fun too! Larry worked on removals in the entrance garden and worked on equipment with Bill O. and Dick H. I was outside briefly but am currently getting orders together for 2013! The process starts this time of year as I commit to ordering annuals and our container arrangements. Directly below are the bird-friendly fruits of the arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) which will also get a nice red fall color this month. There are cultivars of this viburnum selected specifically for superior fall coloration. At the bottom are the hips from the 'Charles de Mills' rose (Rosa). This Gallica rose has double, deep purple red blooms with a slight fragrance. The "hip set" each year has been quite showy.