Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the flowers and plants of autumn, the last hurrah before everything settles in for the winter. I like to look around and see what is still blooming and what is going to seed, and find what I will collect for winter food and medicine and even decoration.
This is the time when there are asters galore, from tiny white stars barely the size of your pinky nail to large purple flowers fairly shouting for attention.
The smartweeds have their long, curving strands of tiny florets that look like the tiniest of pink and white beads clustered together.
Pokeweed is still much in evidence, with some plants still flowering and producing green berries, and other plants heavy with clusters of the beautiful purple berries, which look luscious but are, unfortunately, not edible.
In the gardens behind my building marigolds are making abundant mounds of yellows and oranges, and the zinnias in a couple of the beds are still riotous in their blossom-covered stands. Farther away, a wild-flower area has yellow calendula and deep blue bachelor’s buttons, purple morning glory and punchy yellow rudbeckias and gloriosa daisies.
In my own garden I have the last of the nasturtiums going for broke till the frost comes, and the Jerusalem artichokes are taller than I am, with vibrant, small-sunflower-like flowers. The bees are loving the flowers.
Queen Anne’s lace has a few small blooms left, but mostly has many seed-heads that look rather like birds’ nests.
The jewelweed has finished blooming, but is making seeds that are fun to catch in my hand, and taste deliciously nutty, though they are quite tiny!
The apple tree that produced so copiously last year is dropping sad apples, mostly flawed and quickly infested with ants, such a far cry from the abundance of a year ago. However, I am managing to scavenge a few apples to dehydrate for winter cooking and my oatmeal.
Burdock burrs are ripening, and the seeds are ready to harvest, especially the one burdock in my garden that I don’t want to have spread.
In another month I will start digging up Jerusalem artichoke tubers and burdock roots, and unearth dandelion roots. All of these roots can be eaten, but I will only eat the J artie tubers, and will dry the burdock and dandy roots for teas to nourish my liver and help my digestion.
I have been drying a few zinnias for use in herbal wreaths, and will dry a few marigolds as well. The marigolds are also lovely in wreaths and make a good tea. Zinnia and marigold flowers, separately or together, make a lovely yellow dye for fabric and yarn.
So, I am off to wander among the plants of autumn, and harvest a few flowers and ponder the roots I will soon be digging. What joys of autumn will you be taking home with you? Comment and let me know.