Contrary to the attitude of gardens, I love the anticipation of fall and its warm peacefulness, contentment and – most of all – color. Let me share what these colors can bring to the season.
Golden yellow can be found in wheat shocks on the mantle or in sunflowers offering seeds to yellow finches. I have a plant called solidage that offers pure yellow bliss, and my serviceberry tree will give me yellow and orange pleasure. The chemical carotenoid provides the yellow hue in birch, willow and poplar trees.
Brown is a warm color that often means the end of a plant’s life; however, gardeners are optimistic knowing another growing season will come soon. This earthly color can be seen in bulbs you ordered to plant in October. Brown leaves are found on white oak and hickory trees. After the leaves fall, brown earthworms help compost the leaves.
Apple cider is another reason to love brown. Plan to stop by an orchard to enjoy some cider and maybe a caramel apple, which inspires me to love brown, Coneflower seed heads are dark brown now and are being gobbled up by finches. When I dig up brown potatoes I think of the potato soup that we’re going to enjoy on a cool fall evening.
Red is an intense color that tells us to stop and enjoy the beauty of nature. The chemical anthocyanin brings this hue to apples and cranberries. The chemical is hidden by chlorophyll throughout the summer, but when the days grow shorter and less sunlight is available to produce green, the red comes out for our fall viewing. Trees that show red – much to my delight – are maples, sumacs and sourwood trees. I hope you are blessed with at least one crimson red sunset.
Orange is the color of garden staples such as carrots, pumpkins and squash, all of which are packed with nutrients. Candy corn mixed with peanuts is a popular fall snack, and bronze-orange mums look good in the landscape. Orange monarch butterflies are getting ready for their long trip to Mexico for the winter.
The best autumn show comes from sugar maple and serviceberry trees, all of which give orange memoirs for a few months. A relaxing drive to southern Indiana will help if you need just a little more orange fixation. The amount of rain during the summer affects the brilliance of the leaves, so we should see quite a beautiful fall.
“How beautiful leaves grow old. How full
of light and color are their last days.”
– John Burroughs