When Autumn arrives

Winterthur, Delaware on September 16, 2020.

Legacy of Henry Francis du Pont, 1880-1969, American 

 

Giving thanks for this sanctuary (temenos) in a difficult year.

 

 

The temperature has dropped.  The gardens are still overwhelmingly green.  

 

 

The sundial garden set about with newly planted boxwood.  A dawn redwood in the rear left.

 

 

 

A mature pawpaw tree  (Asmina triloba) on the edge of the sundial garden

 

 

 

But when the autumn crocus (Colchicum byzantium) is in flower

 

 

 

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and also this whose name I don’t know but which looks to me like a true crocus, which the autumn crocus is not

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And when whorls of seeds wreathe the viburnum tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

when plumbago and lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) seem to light up the edges of pathways with their luminescent blues 

 

 

 

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Plumbago

 

Lobelia (photo from the net)

 

 

 

when the asters begin to bloom, 

 

 

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Blue wood aster (Aster cordifolius).

Photo taken at Mt. Cuba, Hockenville, Delaware; also blooming at Winterthur

 

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 White wood aster (Aster divericatus)

Photo taken at Mt. Cuba, Hockenville, Delaware; also blooming at Winterthur

 

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Blue wood aster  (Symphyotrichum cordifolium)

Photo taken at Mt. Cuba, Hockenville, Delaware; also blooming at Winterthur

 

 

 

And when there is a rare reflowering (these trees bloom in May) on a single magnolia tree (Magnolia soulangeana) of three pink/red flowers; drying up now 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and when the red/pink brigade is represented at the beginning of autumn by hardy pink begonia with its brilliant leaf underside

 

 

 

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Viburnum and hardy begonia

 

 

 

the pink/reds are also represented by the fruit of the native Magnolia acuminata:  the heart of its enormous leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

and by the flower and seedpod of the hyacinth bean (Dolichos purpurea)  climbing back every year over the framework of the old glass houses, now glass-less

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

their tendrils holding upright the zinnias as they lose their petals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the pink/reds in early Autumn are also represented by the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis) growing alongside the hyacinth beans

 

 

 

 

 

and by the firethorn (Pyracantha Mohave – Rosacae)

 

 

 

 

and by the pink/red of the Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) still in full bloom in mid-September

 

 

 

 

 

 

when the meadows are gold with goldenrod

 

 

 

 

 

when the flowering quince shrubs are sparkling gold with apples 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when the stand of Sargent crabapples is a mottled pink/red/green-yellow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and when the beauteous patterns of beauty berries (Callicarpa) appear

 

 

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when white hosta are marching about in serried ranks which fences do not halt 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and take it upon themselves to extend their seed-bearing stems to bar your path to a large tree felled by a late, violent summer storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

when the pale lilac hosta (Hosta lancifolia) display themselves in flower so fetchingly against a stone wall,  a bee stoned on their nectar, and their leaves matching the greens of stonecrop descending to meet them

 

 

 

 

 

and when nearby sedum complement their colour with a nod towards pink

 

 

 

 

 

when boxwood and lilac spend their days showcasing the glistening web work of spiders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when elephant leaves (Colocasia) are transforming into expressionistic autumnal tableaux

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when gravity has defeated the giant sunflowers such that their stems collapse 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but when a single leaf defies gravity for days on end, hanging above ground with the help of a spider

 

 

 

 

 

 

when the leaves of an Ayers Rock made up of two weeping Yoshino cherry trees are veils of copper

 

 

 

 

within the shade of these two trees

 

 

 

 

and when some trees have been turned by late summer storms and by the hand of arborists into wooden streams tumbling heavily downhill

 

 

 

 

a variety of virburnum surrounds this tree in the photograph above

 

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when the busy summer bric-a-brac of the gardener’s shed has been replaced with a single window sill of stems of heuchera in glass bottles

 

 

 

 

 

 

and when burr of a castor oil plant has been left out to dry 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then

I know that early Autumn is here and it is time to retrieve the fruit of the American black walnut (Juglans nigra) from the ground around them (by permission)

 

 

 

 

 

 

to infuse in vodka

to stiffen our spines through this Autumn and Winter of our greatest discontent and anguish and also hope

 

 

 

 

Vodka of American black walnut ages from golden green to a lustrous brown. 

Here with a split vanilla bean, lavender seed and sugar.

A savoury fragrance with a touch of sweet, and very heady, it is a bitter when sugar is not added.

When sugar and a vanilla bean are added, we usually soak dates or figs in this and eat them over vanilla ice cream; or use the fruits in various Christmas pies, puddings and dessert concoctions. 

 

 

Vodka with American black walnut and basil

 

Remembering to pour libation to Dionysos whose seasons, Autumn and Winter and early Spring have come and are coming again.

 

 

 

Lead paper weight, artisan and date unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “When Autumn arrives

    1. I am so glad that you enjoyed this as I have enjoyed the gardens and parks and native reserves which have been the gifts of the du Pont family. Sarah

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