California’s Subtle Fall Show

The New England states are known for their color this time of year. Vibrant reds and golds brighten the skylines and bring tourists near and far. I love it there, and long to visit every year.

California on the other hand puts on a subtle show.

Here’s a peek from my backyard as the garden folds up shop for the approaching winter.

The Fringe Flower is covered in fuchsia blooms this time of year. They remind me of miniature pom-poms. I love their brilliant color.

Loropetalum chinense or Chinese Fringe Flower

Loropetalum chinense or Chinese Fringe Flower

Polka dot plants are commonly grown indoors. I bought a few for my fairy garden three summers ago, then transplanted them when they got too large for the area. Little did I know that they would come back year after year, bigger and better than the last. In mid-October they start producing these tiny purple flowers. They’re hard to photograph against the busy background, but they catch my eye in the morning, autumn sun.

Polka dot plants (Hypoestes phyllostachya)

Polka dot plants (Hypoestes phyllostachya)

These brilliant white anemones produced a fraction of their usual blooms this year. They tolerate a lot of conditions, but they don’t like droughts. They generally bloom profusely in August, yet here they are blooming in mid-October doing their best to survive.

Anemone hupehensis

Anemone hupehensis sports a visitor

That’s an Orb Weaver spider, hanging out on the flower. He’s bathed in the traditional fall colors but that’s nothing new. He’s the same color year round, but seems to show up in our garden around this time. He’s not camouflaging at all, but I guess if you’re the biggest spider on the block, you can show off on the tip of a white bloom whenever you want to.

Orb Weaver Spider

Orb Weaver Spider

Our Japanese Maple Acer produces rich red seed pods and variations of amber leaves. It’s one of two deciduous trees in our yard. I look forward to the color changes every year.

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' or Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ or Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple Acer palmatum

Japanese Maple Acer palmatum

And finally, here are my raspberry vines, dying back for the winter. I missed those warm, fresh berries straight from the vine this year, along with fresh tomatoes, sunflowers and summer annuals.

Raspberry vines

Raspberry vines dying back

Some of you are heading into fall this month, and others are ushering in spring. What color heralds the arrival of your new season?

Fall: The Color Orange

I love color, and find myself mentally attributing various hues to the time of year.  Nothing quite says “fall” like the color orange. Vibrant orange Cucurbitas line walkways and grocery aisles.  Shades of auburn tumble through the graceful branches of deciduous trees. Cool green lawns seem to disappear beneath a carpet of rich autumn hues.

Chinese Pistache Fall Colors

Chinese Pistache Fall Colors

pistache assorted leaves

Pistache up close

Standing at my kitchen window this time of year, I get a grand view of our Chinese Pistache Pistacia chinensis.The leaves drop slowly, as the tree let’s go of summer.  I often collect a few of them to decorate our Thanksgiving table.  Once the tree is bare for the winter, I get a second view.  Our friends directly across the street have a row of Nandina.  They’re covered in red, orange and gold leaves, with berries in multiple hues.  They’re one of my favorite plants this time of year.

nandina berries

Nandina Berries

Nandina leavesAs an aside, when I first met my dear friend Nandini I had to work hard not to call her Nandina.  I assured her it was a compliment to be mistaken for something so vibrant and alive.

According to Sensational Color:

Orange, is a close relative of red. It sparks more controversy than any other hue. There is usually strong positive or negative association to orange and true orange generally elicits a stronger “love it” or “hate it” response than other colors. Fun and flamboyant orange radiates warmth and energy.

Interestingly, some tones of orange, such as terra-cotta, peach, and rust have very broad appeal. Orange stimulates activity and appetite and encourages socialization.

If you’re lucky enough to live in California, you’ll still see oranges on the tree. Not to be undone, the seed pods on the Magnolia take on a similar hue.

Magnolia seed pod

Magnolia Seed Pod

How do you feel about the color orange?


“Orange is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow.” Wassily Kandinsky