Images of Autumn, 2014

Streams of light wash the trees with molten rays, dripping glitter upon the forest floor. It is late October, and autumn is beginning to show her colors. Not fieriness yet, for we are weeks away from peak colors, but the woods have a warm glow that complements the season's cooler air. The days are a refreshment to my soul, and I want to soak them in, remembering each detail in the garden. I am out with my camera often.

This redbud tree is laden with dried seedpods.

Some fall vignettes looked staged, but I photographed them just as I found them:
I found this spent Magnolia grandiflora seedpod in an empty pot, one perfect red seed resting in the heart of it.

A fallen feather lies next to a few dogwood berries.

This upside-down mushroom has moss clinging to its stem. I wonder what uprooted it and how it came to rest so perfectly on the ground.

I can not overlook flowers that will bloom right up to the precipice of winter:Clockwise from top left: A new flower head opening on Endless Summer Hydrangea; Close-up of Endless Summer; Rainbow Knockout Rose; Purple Aster; Penelope Rose; Penelope rosebud with some of the bush's fall colors visible in the background; Rosa Mutabilis; Flower Carpet Coral Rose.

A couple of black and white images are a salute to next season:
This dried Oakleaf Hydrangea seed head caught my attention. It reminds me of a cluster of butterflies.

An old stump has artistic swirls and crevices.

Will we have another hard winter? I hope not. For now, I cling to day after day of glorious autumn.



You Should Eat Collard Greens (Do You Want Some of Mine?)

A friend once gave me a garden ornament, a cross with "Bless This Garden" embossed upon it. For a long time the ornament was nestled into foliage in the front garden, but Lou recently moved it to the vegetable plot. It is between two raised beds, and the cross gives the area the disturbing look of a graveyard.


I have decided the cross can stay. My veggies need all the blessings they can get.

Currently we are growing collard greens. Lots of collard greens.

If you don't like collard greens, you should eat them anyway. They are high in many vitamins, including Vitamins A, C, K, and E. They are an excellent source of fiber, folate and omega 3 fatty acids. They lower cholesterol, help to prevent cancer and heart disease and reduce inflammation in the body. 

Fresh, young leaves are best. Rinse well under cold water. There are many recipes, but collards should never be overcooked because this can give a bitter taste. We prepare ours this way:

Add to a large pot of collards a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, a bit of salt to taste, and - the magic ingredient - a tablespoon of sugar. (If one is feeling decadent, skip the salt but add a chunk of pre-cooked ham to the pot.) Cover and cook in an inch or so of water, until the leaves are wilted. Delicious!

So you see I am a fan of collards. But there are just the two of us. Last year Lou planted eight collard plants, and he thought that was not sufficient.

"Do you think twelve plants will be enough?" he asked me this year.

Collards are the type of plants that you cut the leaves and new ones regrow. "Oh, I'm sure twelve plants will be more than enough."

He came home with twenty-four.

The plants are flourishing. We are eating our first harvest this evening. Lou is in the kitchen preparing them, and they smell wonderful. I have told my friends to line up, as we should have plenty to share.