My Grandma lived to be 103 years old and was sharp as a tack until shortly before she died in May of 2008. Among the many bits of wisdom I gleaned from her over the years was her attention to the colors and timing of the fall leaves, and what that might mean for the coming winter. Her anecdotal observations from over a century led her to conclude that the more brilliant the fall colors, and the longer the leaves persisted on the trees, the colder the winter would be. Perhaps the trees are taking one last great gulp of sunlight before they let go of their leaves. The fall colors in the Pacific Northwest seem particularly brilliant this year. I’ve had the opportunity to see beautiful gardens and forests from the North Puget Sound down to the Southern Willamette Valley and every species of tree and shrub seems to be putting on an incredible display this year.
While deciduous trees and shrubs are in their growing phase, they produce chlorophyll, a green pigment that allows the plants to derive energy from the sun through the process of photosynthesis. The green chlorophyll masks other pigments that are present as well. A yellow pigment called xanthophyll and orange pigments called carotenoids (think carrot) are hidden figures behind the green. Red and purple colors come from pigments called anthocyanins, which are manufactured from the sugars trapped in the leaf. While the processes causing fall color are very well understood, the reasons for them are more elusive, and I won’t go into them now. Suffice it to say that they are a reminder from nature, and not just Game of Thrones that “Winter is Coming”.
Fall color is clearly evident and bold in a few crops we grow here at Little Prince. Sempervivums always begin to drift towards peak color at this time of year. Many varieties that are green in the summer begin to show oranges. reds, pinks and even black. Among the varieties with the best winter color are Dea, Kalinda, Lilac Time, Black, Royal Ruby, and Magnificum. We also still have some beautiful blooming Echinacea, and other great fall plants that I’ve included pictures of. Also, I’m eagerly anticipating our upcoming gallon perennial program for 2018. The Beesia is looking fabulous, along with many other new varieties that we are SO excited to be offering next year. The growth in new varieties and pot size options will be impressive, and we can’t wait to unveil it all next year. Remember, spring is coming.
One last reminder that you can still attend our Ghostly Gala this Friday night. Just click on the link and register. It’s free, fun, and for a great cause, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We have some amazing auction items donated by Bizon Nursery, Bountiful Farms Nursery, and Simnitt Nursery. The food and games will be awesome, and we’d love it if you can make it. Have a wonderful week!