Fall is in the air and it is time to say goodbye to the fading annuals such as petunias, begonias and marigolds.
Instead of containers and hanging baskets filled with fading flowers, you can transition to autumn glory by snipping back the old and using the potting soil still in the pots as a base for dried hydrangeas, colorful fall foliage and even displays of pumpkins, gourds and winter squash.
Kick off the new season with these show gardens that score autumn yardage.
Washington Park Arboretum – fall foliage, rare trees and miles of trails
There is more than football scoring field goals near Montlake in Seattle. To celebrate the change of seasons, especially before or after a UW football game, just tackle the spectacular gardens at the Washington Park Arboretum near the University of Washington.
This is a huge, free (except for the gated Japanese garden) and wonderfully serene green space that turns gold and bronze with changing leaf color in October.
There is a large visitors center and gift shop, so you can plan your walking, hiking or photography tours with an expert before you venture out on one of the many trails. With 230 acres, this arboretum can take an entire day to explore. It can also become just a spot to decompress after a visit to the city or when the Cougars beat the Huskies in football. (Oops, did I say that?)
For more detailed information visit the website at www.botanicgardens.uw.edu/washington-park-arboretum.
Ohme Gardens: rocks, groundcovers, pools and alpine plants
A drive over the pass can be a beautiful change of scenery, and, often in October, a sunny escape from autumn rains.
This year the nationally acclaimed Ohme Gardens just outside of Chelan near Wenatchee is celebrating 90 years of mountaintop serenity and a celebration of what humans can grow on a rocky hillside. The story of the indomitable Ohme family that created the gardens (by hand with little money) lives on now that the place is managed by Chelan County.
A popular site for weddings, concerts and group tours, there is a $8 charge to enter the gardens, but the views and inspiration are priceless. On a recent visit we had the gardens almost to ourselves and hiked the stone steps to view fish ponds carved into rock, wishing wells and rustic lookout towers built into the hillside.
There are assorted outbuildings made from rustic cedar and burl wood that lend a magical storybook quality to this unusual garden. No wonder they offer a fairy hunt to visitors. The spring season is when the thyme, wildflowers and hardy groundcovers offer more color, but fall is the season of cool, green mountain magic.
Visit www.ohmegardens.org for more information.
Rhododendron Species Garden: Fall foliage, plant sales and a huge conservatory
There is more than rhododendrons in this garden just off of I-5.
For seekers of bargains and cool wild plants, the annual plant sale and festival will be held the weekend of Oct. 19-20. This is the same weekend that the garden waives the $8 entrance fee, so not only can you purchase unusual native groundcovers, perennials and of course wild or species rhododendrons from all over the world, but you can explore the grounds and get to know the best trees and shrubs for fall color in our climate.
Don’t miss the gigantic glass conservatory with tree-sized tropical rhododendrons and spectacular water features. The shaded woodland trails are peaceful any time of the year.
I am rather obsessed with the English inspired stumpery — fallen trees with their roots in the air that have become home to a fern collection. If I lose any trees this winter in my own garden, a stumpery with ferns could be in my future.