Hollow Fall

Sunset is like stained glass this time of year. Sunny days and cool nights without any freezes have given us a prolonged show of reds, golds, and yellows with all their permutations among maples, hickories, oaks and spicebush. I’ve been struck by the colors of the oaks this year – ruby through scarlet reds, coppery golds.

We’ve long been without rain and have had to regularly water the new Beautyberries (Callicarpa americana) and Itea (Virginia Sweetspire) we put in a few months ago. They suck it up. So important that transplants go well-watered into fall.

American beautyberries are not nearly as graceful as the Japanese (C. dichotoma). They do not hold their leaves or berries. They look like sticks now and I have cut them back to 12″  instead of waiting for spring just because I can’t stand to look at them anymore.

I never cut the Japanese beautyberries this time of year. They arch like bowing ballerinas over the creek and in the border, still holding their now chartreuse leaves against rows of amethyst beads. Most of the American berries are gone, eaten, I believe, by blue jays. Though a few catbirds pecked about a bit early in the season, the Japanese beautyberries will persist, their desiccated fruit providing late season nourishment for the birds that stay through winter.

The east meadow beckons for a walk every afternoon and as I walk away from the house, I feel like Sara Teasdale ~

“Down the hill I went, and then

I forgot the ways of men.”

Coming back, Deer’s Tongue (Panicum clandestinum) catches fire backlit in the setting sun. Native, as is its cousin Switch Grass (P. virgatum), it looks more like bamboo.

The hills are ablaze as we go dry into November, but the creek still runs and the cistern’s overflow splashes among the Sassafras and ferns across the creek.

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