Japanese maples really come into full brilliance in late Autumn. As wonderful as they are during the spring and summer in terms of shapes and forms, with the transition of cooler weather in the Fall the leaves take a new and vibrant coloration that continues for many weeks.
As the green chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down, the red pigment of anthocyanin emerges pushing the foliage color into full intensity. Japanese maples tend to retain their leaves longer which makes them a real standout especially when surrounding trees have lost all their leaves.
Now that most of our flowers have finished and the leaves are falling in abundance, brilliant color can still abound with many different fall shrubs that produce wonderful colorful berries. The palette of these colors are almost endless, from dazzling reds, fiery oranges, gand lowing ambers to steel blues and astonishing purples. These amazing shrubs make the autumn garden glow in glorious colors which continue into early winter. As an added benefit, these nutritious berries provide food for many different species of birds at a time when little else is available.
“To garden means to be connected–connected to the earth, to all that grows here and to the seasons and the years.” Allen Lacy
This ancient maple tree frames the view from my home office. I have always loved the way it echoes the seasons, infinitely grand with a dynamic trunk, arching limbs, the translucent movement of light and shadow. Its very presence lends stability to my life. But I am also reminded that the true beauty of this tree is how it is constantly in flux — transformed by the seasons — ever reminding me that change is constant, giving me inspiration to meet each day with awe and wonder and a willingness to flow with the seasons.
Late summer is always a lull for gardeners–the heat and humidity makes it difficult to work outside, the enthusiasm of spring and summer has waned, and most of our gardening efforts are put into just keeping everything watered and alive.
But take heart, September is on the horizon with cooler temperatures and more consistent rainfall. This is an opportunity to get out into your garden with a renewed spirit and enthusiasm–think about adding some interesting fall perennials or you are really eager dig into a total renovation of your garden–the garden will become energized and triggered into blooming with perennials that come alive in the Fall.
SOME THINGS TO DO NOW
Add some new perennials for Autumn color—Asters, perennial mums, Anemone, golden rod, sedums and ornamental grasses will inject a freshness and vitality into the garden –allowing the garden to mirror the colors of the Autumn season. Fall bloomers can have a large commanding presence like Joe Pye weed, sanquisorba, anemone and ornamental grasses which provide a dramatic backdrip for the smaller stain-glass colors of fall favorites such as asters and mums.
PLAN ON A DIVISION DAY IN THE GARDEN
September is the ideal time to dig and divide your perennials. Overgrown and declining perennials need to be divided and replanted every 3-4 years. It is especially important to amend your soil with compost mixed with an organic slow-release fertilizer before they are replanted. Fresh soil amendments will provide the beneficial support of allowing the plants to send out strong new roots.
CONSIDER A TOTAL RENOVATION OF YOUR GARDEN
Perhaps this is the year to think about doing some major renovation of your garden. Autumn is the best time for major work because the soil is warmer, weeds are less likely to be aggressive and rain is more prevalent. Plants that have gotten too large and ungainly detract from the overall look of the garden as they throw too much shade and consume a lot of precious space. By removing large and overgrown shrubs and perennials, a clean palette is created –giving the garden a more expansive feel. By opening and even extending the garden, a new energy is infused –making it possible for new and exciting plants to be planted.