After a long, long winter, most of us can’t wait to get outdoors and see something growing. It’s wonderful to visit gardens brimful of early spring bulbs and wildflowers. It’s enough to keep you coming back for more.
Visiting summer gardens at their peak makes us want to run home and make room for all the extraordinary new plants we’ve just seen. By the time we’ve finished coaxing our own gardens to their high point, we tend to turn our attention to apple picking and the approaching holidays.
That’s too bad, because the Hudson Valley has one of the most splendid fall seasons you could hope to experience and there are plenty of gardens on display that prove it. The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program is winding down, but their are still a few weekends left to get out there and enjoy.
In late summer, you really get to see why ornamental grasses became so popular – so quickly. We don’t often think of grasses blooming, but they do. And when they do, they do it jubilantly. The grasses putting on their finest right now are the warm season grasses, like Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Fountain Grass (Pennisetum), Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis), Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), Switch Grass (Panicum), and the spectacular Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans) below. These grasses that are a little slow to get started in the spring, but end the year in spectacle.
The flowers haven’t quite given up their hold on our attention, either. Besides the late season bloomers, like Joe Pye Weed and Helenium, it’s fascinating to me how the tropical plants, like canna and caladium, seem to blend into the colors of a fall garden better than they do in the heat of summer.
And then there are the berries and, of course, the leaves. It all moves very quickly and we need to keep our eyes wide open. I plan to pick up a bag of apple cider doughnuts, then make my way to one of the public or private gardens that are bringing this year’s gardening season to a sublime close.