Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chameleon Days

It's begun.

We are in the transition from summer to winter, otherwise known as autumn. The weather is fickle from one week to the next, sometimes one day to the next. My favorite fall days are during what I call "sweatshirt weather," when a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt are all that are needed to keep the chill off.

Sweatshirts aren't needed just yet - not during the day - but once in awhile they feel good in the evenings. Those evenings are perfect for weiner roasts, where the hot dogs aren't the stars of the show; the stars in the sky are.

As I was moving some plants around the garden today and doing some watering of those areas under the eaves that didn't get the benefit of the .6 of an inch of rain overnight, I noticed some changes in the plants.

They too are in transition, with colors of green giving way to yellows, oranges and reds, before they will turn brown and go dormant in their effort to survive another winter. They have one foot in the door of autumn, and the other still in summer. I call these "chameleon plants."

Chameleon Plant (Houttuynia cordata)

Oh yes, there is a plant that goes by that popular name, but I'm using the term for a group of plants with a changeable character. Some start out in spring with colors that belie their eventual summer hues. A good case in point are the emerging shoots of Fallopia japonica 'Variegata,' whose deep rosy pink stems rise from the ground in the spring, and eventually lead to beautiful green and white speckled foliage.

In fall, some plants change from green to the colors we usually associate with the leaves on trees.

These caught my attention today:

Japanese Blood Grass
Imperata cylindrica 'Red Baron'

Burning Bush
Euonymous alatus

Cutleaf Staghorn Sumac
Rhus typhina 'Lanciniata'

Aceriphyllum rossii 'Crimson Fans'
(Ah, yes - yet another name change by the taxonomists)

Cotoneaster sp.
This is one of the shrubs that is original to the house when we moved here. It will eventually lose its leaves, but keep its beautiful red berries that look lovely in winter against the snow. The birds like them, too.

Astilbe 'Color Flash'
This is a perfect name for this astilbe, as the leaves are multicolored through the entire growing season. In fall, they're more pronounced.

All of the above, and more, are in the beginning stages of the striking flush of fall color. Very soon, the gardens and we will be firmly entrenched in autumn, with all the traditions that go with it - fall festivals, apple cider making, weiner roasts, Jack-O-Lanterns, and Thanksgiving.

I can smell it already.


TYRA Hallsénius Lindhe said...

How very beatiful Kylee. I love this time of year and your pictures makes me see why it is certainly lovely with all the colors. The Japanese grass really looks dramatic and beautiful, one can understand why they choose a name like that.


TYRA'S GARDEN, Boost up your immune system

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

I love the fall colors on your plants. Is that Houttuynia in you garden? It is so invasive in our area.
I love sweatshirt weather-- feels invigorating. We still have the A/C on--for the next week or more.

Dave@The Home Garden said...

Color changes are coming fast aren't they? The sumac is an awesome plant for color!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You just perfectly described why I like fall so much. Aaahhhhh.... Love it.

It will be interesting to see how your Japanese blood grass grows. I have had people tell me that it goes rampant. When I tried it it just petered out.

Pat said...

Love the pinks,orange and rust colors of your leaves. Surprised the leaves are dropping so soon...must be cooler in Ohio.
Have the Houttuynia...adds much interest to the garden.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Chameleon plants are good to have in the garden at this time of year.

Know what you mean about sweatshirt weather. It's not time yet but I do wear one in the evening, either that or a cardigan as it's getting nippy after sunset.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

Wow! You have some beautiful fall color there. I just planted Japanese Blood grass, I really like it by the hosta. It's nice to have these chameleon plants which add interest in more than just one season.

Anonymous said...

Imperata cylindrica, Japanese Blood Grass or cogongrass, has been ranked as one of the 10 worst weeds in the world. There are currently several eradication efforts underway in the southeastern United States.

Barbara said...

The older I get, the more I like autumn...maybe a personal transition though I do not consider myself as a chameleon :-) !! Autumn is a wonderful season with all the different reds, yellows, browns and the rich harvest that nature gives us.

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