The Mamas and Papas had it wrong when they sang, "All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray." Sure, some leaves are turning brown, but others are coming into their prime—and vive la différence! Across a good part of the U.S., Canada, and Europe, billions of leaves are transforming into a symphony of color that simply takes my breath away. Emily Bronte described it well: Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” 

 

 

I’ve always loved the fall, even if it does carry the underlying chill of winter days to come. It’s the season for leaf peeping, bonfires, jack-o-lanterns, and hot apple cider. Where I grew up in the Midwest, fall—or “autumn,” as my British husband prefers—was signaled by dried cornstalks, bumpy globes of osage orange, cigar-like pods of catalpas, and the vivid blue skies of what we called, with no thought of political correctness, “Indian summer.”

 

 

The harvest moon always seems huge in October, and the air is filled with the sharp crackle of leaves crunching underfoot. I can’t imagine autumn without the changing color of leaves, and the scores of tourists pouring into New England right now attest to the attraction of this annual event. If you live in an area where the

 

seasons change, you can bring fall color to your own landscape by selecting trees and shrubs that have reliable autumn colorations. The quality of the leaf color can change from one year to the next, even if you make the wisest choices. This is because temperature and other conditions can affect the color from one year to the next. When my kids were in school, teachers were quick to jump on the falling of leaves as an opportunity to introduce their students to this aspect of nature. October was the time of the leaf projects (my kids both had the same teacher for this one and he took the project quite seriously.) 

 

The kids were given a list of a LOT of native trees, and they were instructed to collect, identify, and display leaves from each of these trees. We’d trek over to the Cincinnati Nature Center and collect as many of the leaves as we could find. We’d scour our neighbors' yards (and our own backyard) for others—and, let me tell you, this is not as easy as it sounds. Their teacher and I both knew our trees, but some of those leaves had us stumped. This was partly because the collected leaves weren’t always pristine. A leaf that might have had seven leaflets when it was attached to the branch often had only three leaflets left by the time one of the kids scooped it up. That caused more than a little confusion, on more than one occasion.

 

Our leaf identification books now have worn, dog-eared pages, and I still have those huge leaf collections stored away. The memories of our leaf collecting expeditions will be with us always. The leaves the kids collected were set on sheets of construction paper that were then covered in wax paper and pressed with a warm iron; holes were then punched and the book of leaves was tied with string. Often the identifying labels were replaced several times before the kids felt confident they’d made the correct decision.

 

 

The kids learned something, we had fun as a family, and their teacher was happy with the results of their efforts. And, to this day, I still know where to find the best assortment of native trees in the Ohio River Valley. Why not take your own kids—or grandkids—on a leaf-hunting adventure. Put together a list of common, and not-so-common, trees in your area; get a tree identification handbook and set off into the woods. It's a fun way to take advantage of fall's beauty and savor the last few weeks of temperatures that are warm enough for outdoor adventures. 

 

Comments
by Author JacquelineSeewald on ‎10-09-2009 10:05 AM

I love the mums that are so much a part of the autumn season. Because we have downsized to a coop apartment, I now don't have my large garden and yard which were such a delight. However, I am working on the challenge of beautifying my terrace with various plants and flowers of the season.

 

Jacqueline Seewald

THE DROWNING POOL, Five Star/Gale 2009

THE INFERNO COLLECTION, Five Star hardcover, Wheeler large print 2008

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎10-09-2009 10:47 AM

Do you have room for big pots of perennials and grasses, or are you sticking to mums and annuals? I love mums, and have several pots of them on my deck right now. I also like to combine them in huge containers with ornamental cabbage, ivy or sweet potato vines, and something like Purple Majesty millet or purple fountain grass.

 

Two of my favorite fall-blooming perennials are sweet autumn clematis and boltonia. I also love Purple Dome asters.

by Debbie5564 on ‎11-04-2009 03:51 PM

Mums are a typical and beautiful flower to show that autumn is upon us.  I work in a garden nursery and always enjoy this time of year.  I see all the gorgeous fall plants and flowers and it really makes my heart yearn for the changing of the seasons.  There are also several other autumnal flowers you may enjoy as well.  Use containers, pots and anything else that strikes your fancy to display and plant your flowers.  Why give up the beauty of the season because of downsizing to a coop apartment?  Remember, mums can also be used indoors, too.  Give them enough light and water and they can bloom for weeks.  Remember, to deadhead them, too.  It helps spring up new blooms!

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎05-26-2010 12:25 PM

Debbie - mums are great, and I like to combine them with asters, ornamental cabbages and Boltonia asteroides. For those of you in apartments, if you have a balcony a lot of fall plants work well in containers, too.

About Garden Variety: The BN Gardening Blog
Welcome to Garden Variety, a common ground for gardening enthusiasts in the B&N community. Each day, our resident experts, guest bloggers, and B&N staff produce articles on evergreen topics and growing trends in the realm of landscaping. From seasonal plants and edible gardens to book suggestions and landscape innovations, this is the place where ideas flourish.

Advertisement

Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.