I am admittedly not a big fan of autumn.  I don’t dislike the season itself and in fact, some of my favorite garden plants flower as the days grow shorter, temperatures drop and summer begins to lose its grip.  My problem with autumn is that it precedes winter, and of winter, I am not a fan.  In my book, winter is simply a necessary evil–the cold weather I must endure in order to love the plants I love the most.  Perennials, bulbs, flowering trees, shrubs–they all have to have winter in order to survive–and not just survive, but thrive–and bloom.  And so, I survive winter knowing that at it’s end, all of my garden favorites will be back to woo me with their flowers, their foliage, their fragrance and so much more.
So, if I have to endure winter, I figure autumn ought to be as beautiful as I can possibly make it.  Here are a few stars that are shining now in my gardens and a couple of others that I have visited this week.  Below, Aster novae-angliae (now technically Symphiotrichum novae-angliae because the botanists have been playing again).  The straight species, not a hybrid, it marries beautifully with Colocasia ‘Elena’ in the background.
Below, Helianthus simulans flowering in the Color Garden at Cheekwood Botanical Garden.  If you’re a Nashvillian (or visiting) be sure not to miss Cheekwood–55 acres of beautiful gardens and the Color Garden, in the very capable hands of my friend Phillipe Chadwick, is especially beautiful this time of year.

Part of the fun of gardening is discovering new plants–or new variations of old plants, as in the case below.  I found this seedling Arum italicum in a friend’s garden a few years ago and though it had but one leaf at that time, I thought it looked as though it might have some potential.  I’m so glad I talked her out of it.  Stunning variegation and these beautiful leaves will remain standing all winter long!

Tricyrtis is another genus of fall-blooming favorites.  Tricyrtis hirta, with its amethys-speckled blooms, always makes me smile.  It’s not rare or even that unusual, but it sure is fun!

And last, but certainly not least, one of the best flowering bulbs around, Colchicum autumnale.  They last but a few days, but are so much fun when they suddenly burst into bloom in late September and early October.  If you look closely you can see the “checkerboard” pattern (technically known as “tesselation”) in the flower petals.  In some varieties, this pattern is especially pronounced and very unique.

I hope that autumn finds you well.  I’ve been photographing like crazy the past few weeks and have a big announcement coming your way soon, so stay tuned!  See you in the garden!