Monday, October 13, 2008

Chiaroscuro in Autumn

Seven a.m. on a Saturday morning. This is grass season.

At this time of year the low morning sun creates a rich chiaroscuro of lights and darks. The sunlight is starting to bleed through the forest trees, sending transient shafts of light into the garden. Showing this in a photographic image is next to impossible. The scale is hard to establish for a viewer, and the colors and detail can only be seen if you enlarge the photo. Would you think the view above is probably 250 feet wide in the middle distance and three to four hundred feet deep?

Something about this reminds me of the sun-haunted paintings of the Hudson River School - the light settling in the clearing at this moment of stillness, poise, as we approach the autumnal equinox. But this is stillness with a bit of fireworks...when you see the grasses close up, shooting out plumes of white and red. An apparent contradiction here of images of motion in stillness, over abundance, too much fullness turning this peaceful morning into a memory of turmoil.

And here a bright spot of grasses contrasted with dark trunks of dogwoods, the light turning up the color engine, preparing for...

bursts of colors - here Panicum 'Cloud Nine', golden bracken, a maple branch.

And from the other side, Rudbeckia maxima foliage against the most golden bracken around.

One more: a glimpse of the berryland I'm planting between the house and the garden - Ilex verticillata 'Winter Red', Itea virginica, Aster tartaricus 'Jin Dai'.


  1. Such pretty color contrasts! Love your fall garden shots.

  2. I just ordered that aster! It should get here any day! (Why is this so exciting? Could it be it distracts me from grading 44 papers?) This is the first year with my two itea cultivars, and I am sure enjoying their prelimary leaf color in the fall, and yours make me feel even more hopeful for the full show. As always, your images spoil us....

  3. The top pictures inspires me towards wellington boots.

    It's not just the colours of autumn - it's the smells.

    And it's not just the smells - it's the sounds.

    And the sounds are not just the scrunchings and rustles but the squelchings too.

    Esther Montgomery

  4. ms robin,
    The brightest colors are the poison ivy but I didn't get good photos of that. And of necessity, I hope to eliminate it.

  5. benjamin,
    Do you know Rick Darke's books (e.g., The American Woodland Garden)? He discovered the 'Jin Dai' cultivar while working at Longwood Gardens. My aster tartaricus 'Jin Dai' grew much more profusely in my last garden. The flower color is really striking against the autumn colors of grasses. Here it has languished in the wet, but at last has started to grow larger and spread more aggressively, which I want. My Itea struggles in the wet too, but I think the stress heightens the color.

  6. esther,
    The sounds and smells are part of the garden. Last Sunday, a sweet fragrance like spring, but I couldn't identify it. The decay has started, especially in the pond where frogs plop into the water every time I go near it. Wind on a sunny day is delightful but not frequent yet. There must be very little wind on Mars.



Related Posts with Thumbnails