The rustling leaves of the nearby oak tree catch my eye as I pass by on the street. Its leaves have just begun to transform into yellow and brown. Across the street the maple tree is already adorned in oranges and reds. My pagoda dogwood sports hues of deep purple and plum. I feel the magic in nature’s metamorphosis.
As the days shorten and the temperatures lower, sunlight becomes more prized. We receive pockets of golden sunshine that prompt us to slow down and treasure the moment, which can be difficult to do amid the season’s busyness. After all, a long list of fall chores beckons us. Should I take a moment to savor the crisp weather or use these mild-weathered moments to complete my many garden tasks? The two sides pull at us.
My garden has transitioned from the bright and clear pinks and magentas of summer flowers to the cozy red and burgundy tones of fall. I’m in the mood to gather the troops and take a trip to our local apple orchard. The delicious result of such an excursion will necessarily be filling the house with the heady aroma of apple butter bubbling on the stove, something that my family always eagerly anticipates.
A while back, as I walked up to the tall russet-colored sunflowers in the corner of my garden, I noticed several gold finches flitting between the seedy centers of the flowers and a nearby fence. I paused so as not to disturb their dinner. Later as I looked again, these same seed heads were hosting a collection of native bees and bumblebees. My idea of clipping off flowers to bring home for a bouquet went by the wayside. How could I bring myself to remove this important food source from my garden pollinators only to beautify my kitchen table? So those gorgeous massive flowers stayed in the garden, beautifying that space and feeding the local bird and insect population.
I finally took them down at the latest possible moment so as to provide a living bird and bee feeder right in the corner of my yard. Who doesn’t adore a chubby little bumblebee or a bright yellow goldfinch? In trying to find ways to attract these cuties, sunflowers are an easy and beautiful solution.
One flower I’ve been very excited to paint is the Mexican hat flower, also known, for obvious reasons, as the thimble flower. I first started planting this flower in my garden when I lived in Colorado. It is a little powerhouse in any xeriscape landscape. The delicate yellow-kissed maroon petals belie the workhorse nature of this prairie flower. Mexican hat flowers are not picky about water, heat, or soil. In fact, they will bloom by the hundreds in conditions where other flowers would simply go on strike. I regularly encounter this gem in a prairie garden near my home, and it never fails to make me smile.
I have large groups of black-eyed susan rudbeckias in the flower beds in front of my house. Their bright yellow petals provide a cheerful contrast to the lavender-colored veronica and monarda. The black seed centers are command central for the local pollinator population. This fall, while clearing out the faded blooms, I have discovered a bonus treat to an already striking flower, the deep green leaves that blanket the floor underneath. I couldn’t bear to tear them out, so I left them to continue forming a carpet over the earth.
Evening Colors and Red Sun Sunflowers
The standard yellow sunflower has always seemed to me like it was smiling. If flowers could have emotions, sunflowers would be perpetually happy. The deep, rich tones of red sun sunflowers and evening colors sunflowers remind me of a summer sunset. Just like that golden hour, the saturated petal colors encourage me pause and soak in their rich hues. For several years now, I have planted a selection of rustic/ruby/maroon colored sunflowers. This “variety-pack” of colorful sunflowers have been such a welcome surprise for me each time I see another one open up and wonder which hue this next flower will be.
The Fall Colors Flower Collection
It is with these nesting-like emotions that I offer you my latest collection of floral designs to purchase and enjoy. The gold, rust, and ruby petals remind me of pumpkins, flint corn, bittersweet berries, and apple cider.
We are collectively tying up the loose ends in our yards and gardens to prepare for the indoor life of winter. As you soak in the last moments of autumn, it’s my hope that you can sit back and sip cider, breathe in cool air, and jump into a large pile of leaves. And perhaps write a little note to someone you love.