October 16, 2014

Gathering sweet memories of October beauty


During the past few days, I've been attempting to capture a few memories of this incredible October we're experiencing. Words seem insufficient to accurately describe it. So, here's a nearly wordless tour of my community's autumn color in no particular order:

three flower maple



amsonia combo

apple serviceberry

arb maples

down street

green space 2


green space

japanese maple

lilac and maple

maple bluff

lilac maple2






mountain ash



All photos were taken in Madison and McFarland, Wis. I'm linking in with Pam Penick's excellent Foliage Follow-Up meme on her blog "Digging." Head on over to see fabulous foliage displays from around the world.

October 14, 2014

Autumn blooms before the frost

hyacinth bean

There's no denying it now: Autumn is here, and the days of the tender annuals, the vegetables, and this year's perennial growth are numbered. But a few things are still blooming, since we haven't had a killing frost. For example, Hyacinth Bean vine (Lablab purpureus) is still putting on a last, desperate show of purple tenderness.


This Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is reblooming--though the flower is smaller.


Yes, I will plant Double Impatiens (I. walleriana) 'Fiesta Pink Ruffle' again! An Impatiens plant this sturdy and lovely deserves a place in the planter pots.


The Marigolds of various cultivars show a touch of frost, but they keep on blooming and budding. The Whorled Milkweeds (Asclepias verticillata) in the same pot never did bloom--maybe because this was their first year growing from seed?


The stems and blooms of the False Asters (Boltonia asteroides) are spindly--but again, this was their first year in the garden.


'Vibrant Dome' Asters (A. novae-angliae) were planted last fall. They made it through last winter's polar vortex, they like their spot, and I look forward to seeing their progress again next year.


Zinnias (Z. elegans 'State Fair Mix') are feeling the cold, but maybe I'll get a few more blooms before the frost.


I'm nursing the hanging Fuchsias, including Fuchsia 'Marinka', just in case any straggler hummingbirds make their way through the neighborhood. But I do believe we've seen the last of the hummingbirds for this season.


Something about the folds and the purple/pink combo of Fuchsia 'Dollar Princess' makes my heart skip a beat.


The Lantanas (L. camara 'Lucky Flame') are still forming new flowers, and will continue until the first hard frost.


And finally, Cosmos (C. bipinnatus 'Versailles Mix') is still plugging away with repeat blooms.

I know their days are numbered, which makes the blooms even more sweet. What's blooming in your garden? It's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day! Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this wonderful meme each month.

October 10, 2014

Tree Following: Shagbarks in October


The Shagbark Hickories (Carya ovata) and their surroundings are full of visitors lately. It appears many of the birds of prey (mostly hawks here--I've seen them in action) have migrated south for the season. The garden, which had been rather quiet of late is once again filled with action.


The turkeys are back. (Today I caught them tramping through my perennials. They don't do much damage, though.)




Many of the favorite little songbirds--including chickadees, finches, and nuthatches--are more numerous at the feeders near the cover of the Hickories. All three, however, are with us year-round.


The Downies and the Hairies (woodpeckers) are here in greater numbers, too, although they tend to spend more time on the Oak trees and occasionally at the feeders. I think this one is a Hairy Woodpecker.


The chipmunks are here, year-round, too. Not much to do with the Hickory trees (the chippers scurry near the ground), but this little guy was so cute I had to share.


The Shagbarks, like everything else in October, are in a state of transition. Some of the leaves are still green, while others have turned. Every day they're more vibrant.


I wish I could convey the golden glow of the sunlight through the leaves. In a few days, the leaves will be completely gold, and then they'll drop.


I included this photo to show how more light is penetrating through the branches. Plus, from this angle the tree looks like a person.


But the most unusual thing about the Hickory surrounds this October is the vast quantity of our state bird, the American Robin. Of course, it's a common bird here. But we've never had so many visiting our garden all at once. For several days now, they've been here en masse. At one point, I counted 12 at the birdbath, alone. At any given time, I'd guess there are 50-100 (or more?) on our property.


Whenever I walk outside, they disperse a bit, so some of these photos were taken from the inside looking out through glass. In this photo, I see at least three in the Shagbark tree.

Karin at Southern Meadows mentioned they're probably migrating through, which makes sense. Some will stay here through the winter, although we don't see them much because they seek open sources of water near warm springs and fast rivers. This page from Journey North explains their migratory activities.

I've taken these common birds for granted in the past, but this season they're so plentiful I've found them quite entertaining. Here are a few highlights:








Apparently, the Hickories, the birdbath, and the garden are to their liking.


I'm linking this post to Loose and Leafy's Tree Following meme. Head on over to learn about trees (and their visitors) from around the world.