Top-Ten Garden Highlights for October 2020      


This is a walker’s self-guided tour through the Gardens inside-and-out that will help us to discover the magic of local Nature in August.  Every month is a new top-ten list! 

  1. HERB GARDEN: Last Chance Before Spring.
    bumblebee of a purple flower in the herb garden
    Children’s, Restorative & Japanese Gardens. “Anenome” derives from the Greek anemos for “wind.” And that’s apt because these yardstick-tall flowers borne on wiry stems gracefully dance into the slightest wind.  And if you know them as “Japanese anemones” they are in truth from Hupeh province in China but naturalized and cherished in Japan.
    Lush Japanese garden with bird baths and a small stone pond
    The Japanese Garden offers a quietude-in-the-city, and makes an excellent spot for your interlude of autumn contemplation.  It is an authentic realization that includes a dry stream-bed and this stone lantern and still water pool as integral components invoking its special and rarified ethos. 
  3. AUTUMN-BLOOMING CYCLAMEN (Cyclamen hederifolium).
    A bounty of white Autumn blooming cyclamen flowers on the forest floor
    Find these little charmers in the Japanese Garden tucked under the boughs of the Hinoki cypress.  They’ll bloom like this into the first snows.  Their surprising hour and bashful beauty also make autumn cyclamen a special treat for our garden gnomes—watch your step, please.  
  4. AUTUMN COLOR 1: Japanese Maples ( Acer palmatum Bloodgood.’)
    autumn colored yellow leaves of Japanese maples
    Japanese Garden. There are over a thousand Japanese maple cultivars and most of them derive from this species; and in this part of the world the ‘Bloodgood’ cultivar is the reference standard.  Make one the backbone of your connoisseur’s autumn color garden.  
  5. AUTUMN COLOR 2Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica ‘Henry’s Garnet.’)
    Virginia sweetspire with red fall color along a garden trail
    Restorative Garden. Our first frost will transform this sweetspire to fire for a few burning days–and you think it is colorful in this photo!  Sweetspire is native, likes sun, and is pleasing to our eyes from first flower through November. 
  6. AUTUMN COLOR 3Fothergilla (Fothergilla major hybrid).

    Restorative Garden.  Like sweetspirefothergilla is intriguing across the seasons.  But one bright October day you’ll happen across this shrub, your eyes will pop wide, and you’ll know why we really grow fothergillacolor explosion—boom!  Is fothergilla the most brilliant autumn shrub of them all?  
  7. AUTUMN COLOR 4Possumhaw Viburnum ( Viburnum nudum ‘Winterthur.’ )
    Viburnum with green to red foliage on the forest floor
    Restorative Garden.  It’s a native and like most natives it is not grown for its smell.  A few folks (like me) think it smells “earthy, spicy, and pungent” but most think more “wet dog fur.”  It’s here because it’s good for the birds and bees, and because it’s shiney-winey leaves help make October beauteous. 
  8. ASTERS. Several varieties.  
    Close up of 2 purple asters with orange stamen
    Restorative, Pollinator Gardens. Ohio has over two-dozen wild asters.  Some are big and some small, but all are important late-season energy sources for our pollinator insects pumping-up before hibernation; come winter they’ll also provide seed stock for our stalwart bird species that will stay the winter in Ohio.  Go, Asters!  
  9. AUTUMN INTEREST 1: Seed-heads. 
    Large light pink Joe Pye seedhead
    Found in every Garden.  Here we see a Joe Pye seed-head and it’s just one of many species of Ohio wildflowers and grasses now going to seed at the Garden.  How many can you find?  Let’s see, hmmm, ironweed, cup flower, boneset and horsebalm, goldenrod and sunflower and … 
  10. * Costa Rica Biome.
    Red grape-sized fruit of St.Johns Wort
    Our coffee bush (Coffea Arabica) bloomed mid-summer and now sports little green berries (shown). By October one those berries will be red, ripe “beans.”  Coffee is a big story worth getting to know beyond that morning cuppa.  Visit our bush for inspiration; for edification, try “Devil’s Brew” or “Coffee Justice.”
    foliage growing on a struture in the costa rica glasshouse
    Madagascar and Costa Rica.  The sun is fleeing and the cold is coming but it will be summer all winter long in our biomes.  And those first dark, cold days of October—shocking–might just be the perfect time to reintroduce yourselves to summer again?  Winter’s tuff, but we can do this—with a little help from our biomes.