Sun catchers

This whole glorious summer-like week I have been in raptures over the light. How it slides in sideways through the morning and afternoon… (Are you stuck inside then? Shame.) How it would be blinding if not for the brim of my hat and the contrast is high — the shadows are extra dark — but the bright spots don’t glare…

I can’t help wondering though if I would have thought the light was nearly so sublime – or noticed it at all – if the gardens didn’t catch it like stained glass. A lot of people have told me that their gardens are pretty much done by now. Perish the thought! Here are some of our favorite fall sun catchers:

Grasses, of course. I’m particularly smitten with switch grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’). This picture (below, top left) does not do it justice — the clump positively glows like fire. The feathers of the fountain grasses, Pennisetum setaceum and ‘Rubrum’ are more like spark plugs. The light shimmers and slides off the blades my new favorite grass, orange New Zealand sedge (Carex testacea). It’s hardy zones 6-10, wants moist soil and has much more color in the sun (shown here in a container) than in the partially shady place we planted it. And incidentally, we grew it from seed purchased from Chiltern. (There are several plants in the container and they’re 2 years old now.)

It’s been taking a while for the morning sun to make it over the trees but the dew is also lingering just long enough to get lit like diamonds. Chrysanthemum ‘Matchsticks’, planted in the Cutting Garden, wears the prettiest bling. We still don’t have exactly the right bog to plant our pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp.) but even if we did, I’d want a bowlful to remain spotlit center stage in the Idea Garden. Salvia leucantha ‘Cislano’ only just started to bloom but aren’t its translucent velvet spires worth the wait? And the Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha) has been blooming for a few weeks already but is never as luminous as when the leaves start turning too.

What’s catching the sun in your garden?

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