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First Fall Images 2016

Autumn officially begins this week on September 22. The dog days of summer have lingered endlessly with day after day of temps in the mid 90's. Even worse, we had almost no rain for nearly a month. At last there is hope, for we had some rain this weekend, though barely enough to wet the soil. The days are shorter, and mornings and evenings are finally cooler, giving proof that the earth is still rotating around the sun on its proper axis and a new season is coming, no matter what. 

Under misty skies I went hunting for evidence of fall today. A few leaves are changing on the trees, and there are a number of crinkly piles on the earth. Some are the result of droughty conditions, rather than the arrival of autumn.

Here is a welcome raindrop on a Japanese maple:This photo makes me sad. It is taken of the doomed Japanese maple I wrote about last week. We cut out a large section of the tree, but today I found new ambrosia beetle damage on a couple of the trunks we did not remove. 

On a happier note, I am seeing lots of butterflies.Cloudless Sulfur butterfly

I recently planted Asclepias, AKA Butterfly Weed, hoping to attract some Monarch butterflies. I was thrilled to see that it worked! I was watering the garden last week when a Monarch flew past me, headed for my new stand of Asclepias. I saw another one today, though he did not stick around to let me take his photo. Here is the Asclepias:

I can't take credit for the beauty of my Butterfly Weed.  It was already fully grown and full of buds when I bought it. I am eager to see how it does next year. I have planted Asclepias several times, and it has never done well. However, this is a different location, and so far the new plants seem far happier than the previous ones. 

I kept our hydrangeas watered during the weeks of drought, and I was rewarded with continuing blooms on my Endless Summer hydrangeas:I might tell the plant that I appreciate the flowers, but I am ready for summer to end!

My Deodar cedars are putting out fresh blue-green growth, an indication that cooler weather is coming:

But Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium' shows no signs of the brilliant colors it will soon display:

This Coleus, called Freckles, has been successful this year with little effort on my part. I will take some cuttings and try to keep it alive indoors through the winter, so I will be assured to have some next year:

Am I the only one who thinks dried up seed pods are lovely? Here are some I found today:Hardy begonia seed pods

Finally, the blooms of Hydrangea 'Lady in Red' are aging gently into fall:

Have a great week!   Deb

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Reader Comments (18)

I should be able to send some rain your way, we still seem to have full blown summer season here in Florida, rain and humidity still hanging on.
Love your post with all the beautiful fall colors, but am sad with you over the decline of your Maple. And what a great close up of the sulphur!

September 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGone Tropical

Oh, I know what you mean about the Hydrangeas during a drought year--they are babies without plentiful water and must be pampered, but it's worth it! We had a drought in 2012 that lasted for two months. If I hadn't watered the Hydrangeas, they would have died or at least gone dormant for the season. Your Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is gorgeous! Do you have to cut yours back in the late fall? (http://monarchjointventure.org/news-events/news/qa-about-research-related-to-tropical-milkweed-and-monarch-parasites) Here, it simply dies with the first frost, so it's not a problem for disease. Our Butterfly Weed (A. tuberosa) is a perennial here, although the Monarchs don't like it as much as Tropical Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed. Your garden is always so beautiful, no matter what. :)

September 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

Wow your butterfly looks like our Lemon Emigrant, but of course they are different. It is so elusive in our garden that i can't get better shots, very flighty. I also planted a lot of nectar plants just because of the butterflies. Some of the plants even look like weeds in invasiveness, but because the butterflies love them i let them be. Oh it's almost autumn again there, i am so sorry for the plants that will succumb to winter. I haven't seen or experienced these seasons though.

September 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Hi everyone, thank you for your comments! Beth, I do plan to cut my asclepias back in late fall. Cutting the asclepias back a couple of times through the growing season keeps the asclepias at an good height for my garden, as well as assures healthy leaves. It is marginally hardy here, depending on how cold a winter we get. I will give it a good blanket of pine straw. I have one that is potted that I will bring in for the winter, and I may also take cuttings from it to assure I will have some next year. Deb

September 18, 2016 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

I'm sorry that surgery was insufficient to save your beautiful Japanese maple. I'm sorrier still that you're also suffering from drought - I hope the drought doesn't hang on as it has here. The cooler weather will help the plants some, even in the absence of rain. We have another slight chance of rain in the forecast for early this week but last week's chance never materialized so I'm trying not to get my hopes up.

September 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

Dear Deb, temps in the mid 90's and no rain for a month? That sounds pretty tough on your plants and probably on you too, since I assume you had to do a lot of watering. Your hydrangea 'Endless Summer' looks fantastic, especially considering your weather lately.
I have the same variety in my garden, but the flowers are an indiscript light pink, pretty boring if you ask me, and the plant is not doing well, because of our endless heat and the low humidity. I am contemplating to take it out for that reason.
Love the crazy Coleus 'Freckles', beautiful leave colors. I had a very nice chartreuse coleus as well, but our Doberman puppy didn't like it and ripped it out. When I found out about it, it was already too late to rescue the plant. Grrr..., I love my dogs but admittedly sometimes they are driving me craaaazy!
Hope we are both in for cooler temperatures soon. Can't wait for them either!
Have a nice week!

September 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Loving the early autumn colours in your garden Debs! And glad to hear temperatures are more comfortable there now and you've had some much needed rain.

September 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Your photo series is special, I do love the moments your pictures allow me to spend in your garden...Fall is definitely on the way, I'm glad to see that the dry spell is over it was really taking a toll on my garden.

September 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie@Seattle Trekker

I'm so sorry about your Maple, but you know you tried to save it. On a more positive note, isn't it amazing how quickly evergreens start to put on new growth after rain. After a week of rainy evenings and for virtually 24 hours on Friday I can see a couple of inches of growth on some evergreen trees and shrubs.

September 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

What a shame your Acer didn't manage to survive its attack, they are such beautiful trees. Autumn has definitely arrived here, it is a lot cooler now. Thank you for your lovely photos, such a beautiful selection.

September 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

It is heartbreaking to lose a special tree.

Wonderful combination of sulphur butterfly on purple sage!

September 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

Great photos, but in particular I love the butterfly shot! Nice work.

September 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJeannine

I went back to your previous post to catch up on what has been happening with the Japanese maple. How sad. I love Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium' - I hope you will share its autumn colours with us. What a fab photo of the cloudless sulfur!

September 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Shoesmith

I am so sorry you could not save the maple. I lost a cutleaf Japanese Maple to a rabbit girdling the trunk. Like your area, rain has been been very sparse for us too. Fall rain should help I hope. Your garden is always so beautiful I hope you don't lose anymore trees to stress or insect damage. The butterfly weed comes out very late for us. People often dig them up in Spring thinking they are dead. A new location should help the one you have. Mine took a while to get established, now I have to keep on it because it makes so many seed pods. It would take over the garden.

September 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I too love dried seedpods. It is still so warm here it doesn't feel like fall at all. At least we have had more regular rain. I have had bad luck with this particular kind of butterfly weed. It is so pretty though, I'd love to try again. Hope you get some rain!

September 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

I can empathize because we've had just about the exact same weather here in Tennessee

Well, except we did get a decent amount of rain (about an inch) this past Saturday. But that was the first rain in weeks with temps in the mid 90s each day.

More hot temps and no rain in the forecast next 7 days.

All this - after a brutally hot and humid summer - has meant the earliest autumn colors and leaf drop that I've ever seen here.

Still, as you say, there are lots of pollinators in the garden, the mornings and evenings are finally cooler, the humidity is less oppressive these days. The seasons are starting to turn.

Love your cloudless sulphur butterfly pic. You should plant partridge pea and/or wild senna next year to give the larvae something to eat and you'll have oodles of sulphur butterflies in your garden all season! :) :)

September 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Even with the dry conditions, the September leaves are appealing. Love the Cloudless Sulfur.

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Such lovely photos make me almost think that fall is showing it's face. But there's very little evidence yet! But at least it's finally cooler.

September 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

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