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That Was Then, This Is Now: Seasonal Changes

It is November and with earlier (often spectacular) sunsets, moderating temperatures and gardens now showing signs of dormancy, there’s a distinctly different feeling in the air. It seems like it only took a few days for the seasons to change and the landscape is quickly following suit. When acorns pelleting our roof become a constant and replace the sounds of chirping birds, I know the backyard’s path will soon be cold and covered with sharp objects. Gone are the days when I could open the backdoor and, barefooted, impulsively run out to investigate something new in the garden.  The paths are now covered with fallen limbs, unripened vegetables, debris and those sharp, spiny acorn caps demanding shoes…


That’s not to say there aren’t incredible sights right now: like many other people, Fall’s landscape is one of my favorite sights. This is a season when, if desired, there’s a lot to explore in addition to enjoying the changing foliage and some of the changes take a little more patience to discover and appreciate. As my warm weather morning ritual of exploring becomes occasional rather than daily, I’m constantly amazed at the discoveries found right outside my door. Some are planned and anticipated, while others can be a delightful, unexpected surprise. The other day, desperate for some color to bring inside the house, I scoured the garden in hopes of gathering a few greens, perhaps some color, to put in a new vase. I was amazed to see the return of the beautiful dahlia that wooed me out of bed after August’s surgery and could not have been more delighted with the asters and toad-lilies dotting the garden’s beds:


This is a time of the year to appreciate change and remember how things looked during the traditional blooming season. My low growing, late blooming tube clematis c. heracleifolia that was covered with sweet purple blooms only a few weeks ago has been transformed. Gone is the purple and in its place are these spectacular seed pods adding an intriguing shape and almost metallic color to the bed:


The amsonia’s blooms are one of my early summer favorites and now, as the flowers are a distant memory, I’ve come to appreciate this beauty all the more as the leaves turn into their own wispy, apricot, spectacular sight providing a lovely backdrop for the late season willow leaf sunflowers. That was then . . . This is now.


As I made my way around the yard, I passed beautiful bushes, specifically noticing their unique growth patterns, the colors of their bark and the distinct shapes of leaves now changing color that before, I probably didn’t appreciate because I was so busy looking for blooms. This is the time of year to appreciate the “bones” of the landscape and I fall in love with the garden all over again. As I wound my way to check in on the woodland section of the yard, something very bright – VERY pink – caught my eye. It was tiny and took some effort to get down on the ground to meet it at eye level. How delightful to find some cyclamen blooming in a part of the yard where I know they weren’t intentionally planted . . . not by someone with two hands and a trowel, that is. What’s more, I have a lovely pink cyclamen growing out of a rock! Obviously someone with four legs has been helping me garden this year:


In the woodland area, the most nostalgic part of the garden because I’ve tried to plant things to remind me of treasures I discovered while growing up in Cleveland, the only evidence of my efforts was with the bright red seeds (which I hope will scatter and take hold) of the Jack in the Pulpit. That was then . . . This is now:


There’s beauty in plants that once bore brilliant flowers: their shape, seeds, pods and changing leaves are intriguing and have a unique aesthetic only found this time of year. The fothergilla that was so delightful in the spring when covered with fluffy white blooms is just as beautiful now as the shrub is ablaze with colorful leaves and the honeysuckle that bloomed wildly over a trellis all summer is now adorned with bright red berries. In the Green Bed, the remaining shape of the once brilliant blue plumbago strikes a particularly lovely sight even without the color as the remaining shape and richly colored leaves resting against a boulder is a gorgeous seasonal sight.


by Emily Stashower, Behnke’s Guest Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I love the concept of then and now. Thanks for helping me appreciate my garden during this time when it seem (superficially) like it is closing up shop.

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