Farewell, Fall Foliage.

Fall by the river @ Garden Delights

I'm proud of myself. I'm embracing my new found appreciation of fall. I haven't reverted to my normal autumn curmudgeonliness, and I've yet to curse the impending cold. I've only counted the days until spring once (123 days as of yesterday).

Sassafras @ Garden Delights

Instead, I've been walking in the forest, appreciating the colors, finding seedlings full of potential for future fall shows, like this sassafras. Not once have I griped about the amount of leaves blanketing the garden. After all, what are fallen leaves but future leaf mold compost?

Aren't you impressed with my positive fall attitude?

Fall foliage @ Garden Delights

That's about to change, I fear. With temperatures expected to plunge to 17 degrees tonight, the autumn fun is nearly done. The tender plants are tucked into the greenhouse. I've winterized the potager, and most of the crops will survive the chill. The eight varieties of heirloom lettuce, though, will most likely be indistinguishable in the morning.

So, let's savor this last day of beautiful fall color before I turn into Scrooge, shall we?

Fall Foliage @ Garden Delights

I spend many hours commuting to North Carolina. While most of my friends venture to the mountains in search of fall color, I make the journey multiple times each week to take our girl to the stable where she rides. It's a beautiful drive, honestly, and the mountains' current fall show makes the drive less monotonous. Still, I have to admit—the colors in our own garden and forest rival those in the mountains this year. Who needs to make an extra drive to North Carolina in search of fall foliage when you live in a forest? Maybe next year I'll sell tickets to our backyard!

Japanese maple @ Garden Delights

During the summer, I often whine about our trees. I love trees, I do--I'm a treehugger kind of girl, refusing to cut trees unless they're diseased or a safety hazard. Still, I yearn to grow David Austin Roses and dahlias and gorgeous, enormous tomatoes without battling our deep, deep shade.

Japanese maple @ Garden Delights

But then, fall arrives, and I want a dozen more Japanese maples. This one shades the office. If I opened the sliding glass door right now and stretched just a bit, I could touch it. A hummingbird perched in it all summer, awaiting dive-bombing opportunities to attack its rivals in the sugar-water war.

There were many days I didn't write much, watching the bird battles.

Oakleaf hydrangea

Another benefit of our shady garden is our forest of Oak Leaf Hydrangeas. Over the past two years, I've added several of these native beauties to the garden. The flowers are lovely, but the fall foliage is why we love these plants.

Beech trees @ Garden Delights

Beech tree leaves @ Garden Delights

Probably my favorite trees throughout the forest are the beech. The forest blazes with their fall leaves, plus the bark is lovely. A garden can never have too many beech trees.

River view foliage @ Garden Delights

River view foliage @ Garden Delights

Along the river, the volunteer seedlings meld with the mature trees. We often walk through the forest, with Peter identifying seedlings we want to nurture and marking them so that they don't fall victim to a weedeater or lawnmower.

River view foliage @ Garden Delights

Forsythia @ Garden Delights

Forsythia wins the landscape award for most versatile shrub. Not only does it herald spring with its cheerful yellow flowers, it fills out nicely in summer, turns a spectacular burgundy in fall, and--in the midst of winter when its bare stems battle the elements, can be snipped, brought inside, and coaxed into bloom. Truly, no garden should be without forsythia.

Fall foliage @ Garden Delights

Blueberry bushes @ Garden Delights

Along the back kitchen garden, the rows of blueberry bushes also present a spectacular fall show. How can you not love a shrub that produces delicious fruit all summer, then turns around and gives you color like this?

Floral Friday @ Garden Delights

Floral Friday @ Garden Delights

The fall colors featured prominently in last week's Floral Friday bouquet. The camellias, while lovely, are almost an afterthought when the foliage is so spectacular.

Sadly, today's steady downpour of leaves after the yesterday's rain announces the denouement of our fabulous fall foliage. I'm glad I embraced fall this year. Now, if only I can make peace with winter...

(But that's OK. We only have 122 days until spring. In a blink of an eye, it will be time to start seeds in the greenhouse!)

Happy Fall!