Scarlet lingers longer than other colors in our garden. While the season opens in February and March with whites, creams and yellows, it definitely finishes in December with touches of red against evergreens and faded browns.
Late autumn reds energize and cheer us. There’s much to be said for the courage of a strong finish in most any endeavor. But there is a poignant sweetness to red leaves and red flowers on the cusp of December.
Our autumn came late this year after a lingering ‘Indian summer’ that lasted for week after week. Our deciduous trees are just past their peak, and beautiful scarlet Japanese maples, blazing red maples, rich red dogwoods, sumacs, and Virginia creeper vines still hold their color against chill November winds. Native Vaccinium shrubs, blueberries, deerberries and huckleberries, have also turned scarlet. We see stems of stalwart red pineapple sage flowers shining amid the faded Rudbeckia and goldenrod.
Oakleaf Hydrangea leaves turn bright red early in autumn, and hold onto their beautiful leaves deep into winter and earliest spring. It is good to plant these beautiful shrubs where you pass them often and can see the brightness of their leaves beckoning across the garden.
Red and pink Camellia flowers bloom now in profusion. Holly berries and Nandina berries grow deeper and brighter with each passing cold night. It is good that seasonal colors shine in our garden now as our thoughts and efforts turn towards holiday making.
I bought a few six-packs of red Viola plugs this week for pots. I may regret their brash redness by April, but I am loving them now. Red warms the garden as Northwest winds blow dancing leaves from branch to ground.
We are grabbing our hoodies on the way towards the door these days. Hats, ear warmers, sweatshirts and sweaters feel good again. I’ve rediscovered socks. The seasons have turned, and change is in the air. Touches of red inspire a little merriment, even as we shiver a bit in the afternoon sun.