Love a leaf, Love Life

"Anyone can love a rose, but it takes a great deal to love a leaf. It's ordinary to love the beautiful, but it's beautiful to love the ordinary."  - Unknown

I came across this quote, and it expressed what is close to my heart. If one can love the common things, life will be full of riches; and to see the beauty in a leaf is to be open to the magnificence of the Creation.

The most amazing thing happened this past week. September 23 was the first official day of autumn, and when I opened the door that morning, autumn had arrived! When does the weather ever follow the calendar around here? September 22 was hot and humid and still decidedly summer, but a storm that night blew summer away and deposited autumn in its place. I walk around in a reverie, breathing in the fresh air and watching leaves turn before my eyes.

Dogwoods (Cornus florida) are among the first trees to start turning:

Alabama croton is a rare native plant with very interesting leaves:

Hydrangea ''Lady in Red' is noted for its red stems and lovely flowers, but it also has striking fall foliage:

Acuba japonica 'Variegata' adds spots of color to shady places:

Pieris japonica 'Cavantine' is putting on a pretty flush of new growth:

I love just about all variegated plants, including this variegated holly fern:

Another plant with wonderful variegated leaves is Hydrangea macrophylla 'Variegata':Years ago I planted a rhododendron in the woodland garden. I admire the large deep green leaves and like the shrub's structural presence, so I was not terribly disappointed when it did not bloom. But, look! This year it is producing buds! I guess it just needed time to grow up. I long ago forgot what color the flowers should be. I look forward to a spring surprise:

Euonymus americanus, otherwise called American Strawberry Bush and (my favorite) Hearts-a-bustin, has lovely fall foliage that becomes translucent white, washed with tints of gold and pink. Its fruit in this image is not quite ripe:

Tamopan persimmons have not yet ripened to deep orange, but the tree's large leaves are quite remarkable, especially as they being to turn.Some hungry bug apparently appreciates the leaves even more than I do!

This is the first Tamopan persimmon leaf beginning to assume its fall colors.I love individual leaves, and I also love how myriads of leaves blend together to create tapestries like the following views of the front garden:

With all these leaves, my life is truly rich. But just wait till they all start falling. We will be knee deep in treasure! 


Almost Autumn

September 23 will be the first official day of autumn. My part of the world has not received notice just yet. The days are very warm, though cooler mornings and evenings hold promise. Weather can turn in a moment, however, so maybe day after tomorrow will bring the cool refreshing days I am longing for!

I should go back and count how many of my posts begin by talking about the weather. We gardeners are acutely tuned to climate fluctuations, and too often we are wishing for a change. I am trying to appreciate each day. This summer I have made myself walk outside even when it has been exceptionally hot and humid. (I confess I haven't always enjoyed it, and some of those strolls were short!)

Really? In truth this summer has not been exceptionally hot and humid at all. Why, June and July were quite pleasant. 

OK. But as the calendar states, it is almost autumn! I admit, despite the hot afternoons, the garden looks inviting with mellow shades of yellow and myriad shades of green in the soft September light. I am eager to drag Lou out into the garden and get things done. My list is long.

A mid-September view of the arch. Notice that the Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), which we cut back almost to the ground earlier this year, is recovering nicely.

This little Japanese maple is growing near a large white pine (Pinus strobus) in the front garden. I love its golden September foliage against the blue-green of the white pine needles.

Above left: Zinnias are blooming in a pea-green pot next to Blue star Juniper. Above right: Boulevard Blue Cypress tree gets the bonsai treatment in a pot at the top of the woodland stairway.

This birdhouse is located near the main entrance to the woodland garden.It is tempting to dive into yard work, but once the sun gets up and the humidity rises, one realizes that it would be better to wait a few weeks for the benefit of plants and humans both. Sometimes it is hard to be patient, but for the most part I am content to pull a few weeds while I wander around taking photos.I like the detail in this metal arch that leads into the arbor garden. The metal is dark brown, but the light was shining on it so that parts of it seem much lighter in this photo.

Wild ageratum, also called Mist Flower, is blooming now. This is one of my favorite wildflowers. Butterflies, like this skipper, also appreciate it.

The Ageratum rambles around the Red Cascade rose, which blooms prolifically in the spring and then sporadically through the summer. It has recently put out another flush of blooms.

I finish with some more late summer images.Clockwise from top left: My Winterberry hollies (Ilex verticillata) finally have berries on them this year. They are beginning to turn orange. I moved these shrubs FOUR times before they found a happy home; My winter daphne seems to be doing well, despite its recent move into a new pot; Annual Persian Shield is flourishing; Can I brag again about my Arborvitae fern (Selaginella braunii)? I love this plant!

May you all have a blessed week, and may you find refreshment for your souls.   Deb