Early Autumn Light and Colors
When autumn arrives, the air is less humid here in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. So the sky changes from the pale blue humid summer color to a deeper blue of the dryer fall. Patches of blue show through the tree canopy that is just starting to change to autumn colors.
During autumn, the tilt of Earth’s axis changes relative to the plane of its revolution around the sun, changing the altitude of the sun relative to earth, or in other words the angle of the sunlight. The lower angle of sunlight makes for dramatic lighting, turning an ordinary yard garden into a place that appears filled with mystery.
Looking closer to the ground, a small Sassafras tree sapling is showing its splendid fall colors. This tree is native to the East coast. If you have ever had a root beer drink, before the FDA banned the use of sassafras oil in mass produced foods, then you have tasted real sassafras. This tree species is unusuall in that it can have three distinct leaf patterns on the same plant: unlobed oval, bilobed (mitten-shaped), and trilobed (three-pronged).
This is a lovely little tree that is little for now, but will obtain a height of 49 – 65 feet tall and up to 23 inches in diameter. Since this tree has a tendency to spread by suckers, creating small stand of trees where there was once one, I will probably have to dig it up and move it either elsewhere in the yard or rehome it.
Even more fall color can be found a little closer to the ground where the Oakleaf Hydrangeas are turning a lovely red while retaining their green veins, making for a very striking color display. The Oakleaf Hydrangea is one of my favorite bushes for the shade garden. It puts on a spectacular foliage display from spring through fall with their white blooms being a bonus.
Below the level of the bushes are many small plants that inhabit our shade garden. Among them are ferns, acouple of which have been purchased, but many were rescued from being bulldozed for new housing. Ferns remind me of my childhood home in the northwestern part of the country where they grow abundantly. There is something delightful about the spiraling growth habit of a fern and watching them unfurl in spring. Once planted, I have never had to tend to any of the plants as they do well on there own. We even have ferns inside our house, and those don’t need watering either, but only because they are in the form of fossils. I often see dragonflies in our yard and the combination of dragonflies and ferns make me wonder what the Earth was truly like during the age of dinosaurs when both of them were around.
An across the path neighbor of the fern is a patch of variegated Solomon’s seal that began as single plant. These are charming plants with dainty, shy little bell shaped flowers that hide under the leaves. In Autumn, the leaves change from green with white edging, to a lovely golden wheat color.
Even closer to the ground, the marigolds are last of the summer flowers still in bloom in our yard. I am letting them go to seed so that we will hopefully have more in the same spot next year.