Monday, October 10, 2011

Autumn blowing through

The dry summer brought out brilliant colors in the fall foliage in late September and early October.
Virginia creeper, before the wind.
But stiff winds over the last few days brought many of those leaves to the ground, including much of the poison ivy and Virginia creeper that had set the woods on fire with bright oranges and crimsons.
Poison Ivy (the orange leaves), how pretty

The show was beautiful, and many previously unnoticed trees took the spotlight.

The sumac is still red, although a bit duller than before, when the following photo was taken.

Ageratina altissima, white snakeroot
Autumn flowers are still in bloom. A prolific native wildflower with tiny white flowers that I believe is the heath aster, creates billows of white with hints of purple wherever it grows. And the white snakeroot (photo to right) blooms throughout the woods.

Of course, the gardens are full of blooms -- marigolds (Tanacetum spp), salvia, celosia, cosmos, brilliant zinnias and the eye popping calendula or pot marigold (Calendula officinalis).
Calendula officinalis
I have been harvesting the fresh flowers of calendula and drying them so that I can make a healing oil or salve.

Calendula serves as a great healer of skin conditions -- wounds or rashes or other conditions.

The blue sage (left), aka pitcher sage has lent a subtle hue of blue to the prairies. It is one of my favorite Kansas wild flowers. As a species of salvia, it is related to the ordinary garden sage, as well as all of the other cultivated sages (not to be confused with the artemisia species that also are sometimes called "sage").

Blue sage looks like one of the more delicate prairie flowers, as it can seem spindly next to more robust types, such as heath aster and sunflowers, but its roots dig deep (6-8 feet they say) so it has staying power.

The beautiful autumn weather has provided many opportunities to work in the garden. Too often now the task is watering because it has been so long since the last significant rainfall. Our little shower this morning did little to quench the earth's thirst.
We can now eat lettuce and arugula from the garden. Little radishes in our salads are filling in some of the space left open by the fading the cucumbers. Greens are ready to pick. And it seems that we might have a late first frost this year -- which I am glad of, since the cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are not as far along as they used to be.
The evenings are cool enough for saunas to be in order. And the bright days are perfect for taking granddaughters on wagon rides and lying on our backs looking at the brilliant blue sky through autumn leaves.

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