For some reason, this year I’ve been more aware of the changing beauty of my garden as the plants respond to colder weather, then are touched by frost, are finally frozen, then thaw and refreeze.
The colors deepen, mixing across single leaves while the damage from the cold is still mild. Then the sharply expanding ice crystals break structures, change shapes, and leave plants with a watery translucency. Then the plants dry, darken, and shrink back.
Maybe this year it’s taken longer from the first fall weather and falling leaves to the first frost to the first freeze. Maybe this has given me more opportunity to observe the autumnal changes in my garden. Whatever it is, I’m glad to have noticed them. It’s the inverse of the garden slowly unfurling from the ground in the spring–the slow and beautiful dying back and drawing back into the earth.
For instance: one day I was admiring the combination of yellows and greens of a hosta against the reds and purples of the hydrangea behind it and the oranges and yellows of my glass garden art, and the next day the hosta’s leaves had frozen, the color was gone, and the leaves had collapsed. Similarly, one day I was admiring the bright red glimpses of zinnias still blooming among the piles of leaves I’d heaped in my vegetable garden, and a few days after the freeze, I realized the zinnias were transformed into brittle, rusty stars.
Looking back over the month of November, I’m surprised at how clearly I can see the changes. Here is my garden on November 6, at the height of the fall color:
Then a couple weeks later after some light frost:
And finally a week later after a freeze:
And here are the changes from closer up (click any image below for a bigger image). They’re in chronological order from the last couple weeks.