Autumn

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Days before the first frost, golden light bathes a radiant garden at ease. This is the majestic last hurrah.

Leaves strew the paths, adorn the beds, and float on cooling water. Brown, red, and gold mosaics overlay the most vibrant green since spring. Liriope flops beside a path. Almost-spent Japanese anemones careen helter-skelter. Their cottony seed heads pop open with tufts.

Cars drone louder across the more barren valley. Cricket chirps weaken.

New smells permeate the grounds: the smoky scent of drying leaves, a pungent bite of haywire Russian sage.

Final blooms, precious and iridescent, appear on the rose bushes, the asters, the dahlias. The end of season shows such joy.

Spreading colors radiate. Gold on feathery Amsonia hubrectii, gold plates of hostas, golden poplars about to set loose their autumnal cascade. What triggers a tree to let go?

Crimson fills the small katsura and rises in old acers, as brilliant now as plump new viburnum berries, next season’s life. A final blood-red surge will soon enflame the garden.

— Kathy Hudson

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