Normally, I wouldn't complain about day after day of warm and sunny weather in October, but when you are trying to plant bulbs in ground that is as hard as concrete, you start wishing for gray days with rain soaking the soil. Pulling out weeds and even dead annuals isn't easy either, when their roots are stuck in the aforementioned cement.
I've planted most of the bulbs in the garden, where the soil is much better, but I have crocuses I want to plant in part of the lawn and daffodils around some trees, so a good rain should make these two jobs much easier. I've also done just a little garden clean-up, including pulling/cutting back most of the Rudbeckia triloba. Although the seedheads look rather cool, they were in my way as I planted tulips. Besides, these brown-eyed Susans took over one area of the lily bed this summer, and I really don't want any more here. Of course, I probably scattered thousands of little seeds as I cut them back, so it may have been an exercise in futility anyway.
Most of the Echinacea seedheads will stay in place through the winter, however. I still see some goldfinches--less colorful as we approach winter--feasting on the seeds occasionally, and the seedheads add some winter interest when topped with a dollop of snow.
Once the ground is a little softer, though, all the rest of the annuals will be pulled. We had a light frost a week ago, but its effects varied from place to place. In town I noticed that most annuals were still going strong, but here in the country where the wind whips across the flat land, it's a different story. My poor 'Zowie' zinnias just couldn't escape the cold.
The Gomphrena was hit, too, but with a different effect--
the blooms now look like little frosted pink pompons.
Fall seems to be slipping by without a chance for me to enjoy it as much as usual this year. No time for leisurely drives or walks in the woods with Sophie. Saturdays have been fun, however, with Illini football games, and older grandson's football games and the younger grandsons' soccer games. But family obligations have kept me preoccupied much of the rest of the time--my mother has been in and out of the hospital for the past month and is back in a nursing home once again. Meanwhile, many of the trees changed color and dropped their leaves before I really noticed it.
Still, there are moments when I notice the changing world around me. On a particularly beautiful sunny day as I was driving to visit Mom, I came over the crest of a small hill and came upon a scene of golden fields stretching for miles with farmers busy harvesting. No time to stop for a photo, but the scene uplifted my spirits so, making me think of the line "amber waves of grain"--the quintessential Midwest scenery.
Other than enjoying the fall scenery as I whiz past it in a car, most of my appreciation of fall has been closer to home. The old oak tree at the end of the lane is beginning to change from green to bronze, and at the right corner of the photo you can see one of the burning bushes in their brilliant reds.
My favorite tree this time of year, the maple in the center of the yard, is slowly becoming more and more orange. The leaves gradually change color from the top moving downward. It's always the last tree to lose its leaves, and once it does, I know that winter is not far away.
The crabapples have all lost their leaves, but plenty of ripe fruit remain,
waiting for the birds to find it.
While the trees are the most obvious examples of fall color, the garden is slowly changing color, too. Solomon's Seal turns a light buttery shade as the season winds down.
I think this might be the 'Stained Glass' hosta--almost as eye-catching as it was in its prime.
Pokeberries are finally a deep purple--
I do hope their stains come out of my gardening pants, by the way:)
Amsonia tabernaemontana is turning a beautiful golden hue.
But my favorite golden shrub in the fall is the Amsonia Hubrichtii. This photo isn't as striking as last year's pose (see banner photo) when the Beautyberry still had its leaves and was covered with frost. But still, you can't help but notice the Amsonia--it positively glows in the sunlight.
There is now over two inches of rain in my rain gauge--hooray! This makes my garden happy, and me, too, since it will make working in the garden so much easier. I have so much still to do, but the forecast is for sunny days in the 70's next week, so I'll be out finishing the bulb planting and as many of the top-priority items on my list as I can before the weather turns. And if I don't get all the rest done . . . well, there's always next Spring!