Wild Things…
The Garden in Fall II
By Karen Vizzi
   As the season progresses, changing colors transform the wild garden into it’s very peak of beauty.
   It’s true that the pastels of spring are always a welcome sight after a Western New York winter, but nothing can compare to the rich, intense colors that are on display at this time of year. The really interesting aspect of the fall garden is that everything is colorful, not just the flowers. As I stroll through my garden, I am moved by the sights of exquisitely shaped seed heads, diamond blankets of spider webs in every nook and cranny and of course, the daily rainbow of changing leaves.
   Planning the wild garden to provide these displays extends the season, and a longer season can make our harsh winters a little more bearable. The low maintenance aspect of the wild garden allows for time to enjoy it, too. 
   Many varieties of trees provide interesting fall color, but one of my favorites is the ash. When it begins to turn, it’s as if a lemon tree has sprung up over night. The oval leaves are a clear, bright shade of yellow. The old apple tree in the neighbor’s yard provides a background of deep gold leaves that contrast beautifully with the red of ripening apples. Several shrubs must also be included on my favorites list. The quilted leaves of the red osier dogwood provide texture during the summer and then turn a reddish purple in fall. Big clumps of snowy white berries complete the picture… if the birds haven’t eaten them all by now! But that’s precisely why it makes such a great wild garden plant. As we move into winter, the branches and stems of this plant will turn scarlet red against a backdrop of snow.
   Serviceberry is another must for the wild garden. The leaves of this shrub turn an intense apricot color, and sport an occasional scarlet leaf here and there. It produces plump red berries, which are another important food source for both migrating and resident birds.
   Many perennials also continue to provide color and bloom. Japanese anemones are flourishing now, as well as the dark variety of Joe Pye weed (eupatorium). This plant has deep burgundy foliage and white puffy flowers that provide late season nectar for insects. A Mourning Cloak butterfly (which overwinters as an adult) is still making regular trips to the Joe Pye weed in my garden.
   But the most stunning plant for seasonal color in my garden is the Virginia Creeper vine (pictured). A three-year old plant has made its way up the side of my garage and is now a vibrant bower. Each large fan-shaped leaf is multi-colored in varying shades of scarlet and orange. It also produces plump, blue berries, which are a culinary delight for the birds, and a visual delight for me. 

 
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