The Arrival of Autumn

by Rose Riley | September 2014

The garden is about anticipation.

The first warm day heralds a summer of days to come; the first snow drop a garden of lilies.

Gardeners are always waiting for the next plant to come into flower. The entire summer is a veritable parade of flowers, each new bloom eagerly awaited.

But like all parades, the garden, too, must come to an end.

By late September, the goldenrod,


and the autumn-flowering ageratum,


each march in glorious color. But just around the corner, the parade is nearly over. Almost all the plants sit quietly, awaiting the dismissal of autumn and winter.

Yet, in the parade in this garden, there is still one more marching band, one last tuba and brass drum.

The coral and yellow daisies of the Sheffield Pink chrysanthemum are barely visible in September, but by October they will have turned the corner and come into view — banners waving — in a glorious finish to the summer’s parade.

Sheffield Pink chrysanthemum

In late October, the gardeners will put the garden to bed.

Plants will be cut down, compost tidily spread on the beds. Only the Sheffield Pink chrysanthemums will remain: one last attention-grabbing reminder of the summer’s glory.

These flowers will brave the worst of winter until the gardener cuts them back in spring.

But by then of course, the daffodils and grape hyacinths will be in bloom, and the anticipation of the whole parade yet to come will begin again.

~ Rose Riley, Master Gardener

Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum