One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Late Autumn Gardens



 First, a technical note:  As you know, life’s been a little unsettled here at the Midnight Garden this fall.   Not in a bad way, for the most part, but certainly the blog is not as highly organized as t’was before my own move and the move to a new blog hosting sight.  

I’d heard from at least one of you that you were missing the old Gardener’s Soundtrack playlist I featured at the old Blogger location, and so last evening, I tried to bring that here to WordPress.  You’ll see it’s there in the right column and you can click on it to launch the pop-out player…but I can’t seem to make it play automatically, or randomly as the page loads.  So forgive the technical glitch and if you’re looking for some tunes while you visit, there they be.  Turn up your speakers – there might be something you’ll like!    If not, you can always turn ’em back down again.


The good news is that, in the process of trying to figure out how to get the HTML over there in the right column, I stumbled across the place I needed to find in order to populate my Blogroll with all my favorite blogs and bloggers.  Yay.  So there’s that! 

All those things sort of help to take the sting out of the sudden (but perhaps overdue) arrival of wintery weather here on the Outer Cape.   Tuesday morning, I was having a cup of coffee, noting that it was cold, but still considering going for a walk.  As I watched, the skies darkened and there was a great noisy precipitation, as we were pelted with graupel.  

Graupel is that pellet-y stuff that isn’t snow, but isn’t quite hail.  Anyway, as you can see, we got a bit of it.  For my part, I passed on the walk and was content to lounge around the Nest a little longer with a second cup of coffee, instead.

For those of you who are keeping track (I’d forgotten, until I had a congratulatory email from my good friends at, Tuesday marked my Four Month Anniversary without cigarettes.    I’m really feeling very good about it…and I do try to remember this when other things are getting me down.  Although I forget from time to time, I don’t want to get complacent about the smoking.   My most successful previous attempt, after all, lasted eight months.  But still, it’s an occasion worth marking, and at least offering a little Woo Hoo over, if not a full blown celebration.


money-plant-snowThe rest of Tuesday was a little better, since the sun returned pretty quickly after our brief graupel storm.  It was one of those bright, golden Cape Cod days…but our temperature never quite got to 40 and there was a sense that the season really had turned, as we knew it eventually would.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise to wake up yesterday morning to a skyful of snow flurries, swirling around outside the windows and making tiny little drifts here and there on the landscape and the porch.

This reminded me of several things:  first, there were a few storm windows I hadn’t fully closed here at the Nest.   So I took care of those.   But I had also, amidst many other things, purchased a few small, inexpensive bags of flower bulbs which I needed to get into the ground, a little investment toward next spring’s celebrations.




Planting bulbs was not foremost in my mind this fall, and so by the time I got around to identifying a few bucks for this, and then to actually checking to see what was available in the store, the choices were somewhat limited.  No crocuses, no grape hyacinths…none of those tiny pretties I love so well.

However, there were some nice purple globe alliums.  The package indicates I can hope they might be as tall as three feet.  There were, I think, seven in the pack.   The other two packages were tulips, each package holding four each of two different colors. 

Since it’s a small patch of garden I’m planting in just now, two packages seemed more than enough, but I think the four colors will work well together.


You can see in the background above that the upper levels of this coneflower plant have already died back, even though it’s pressed out one more little flower just in the last week. 


At the feet of the coneflower, though, is a clump of white allyssum.  It grew from some of the last seed I sowed in the Harwich garden this year, and these seedlings were traveling partners in the same pot with the coneflower when it came time to move.  

Allyssum is one of the hardier annuals and I’ve seen it escape a garden and travel all over the place.  In some parts of Provincetown, I have found great clouds of the stuff growing from the tiniest crack in the pavement.  So I have some hope that this stuff may survive the winter and or at least spread itself around some. 

And if not, well, it’s sure easy enough to throw some more seed around!  Meanwhile, this happy little flowers were an interesting compare/contrast moment with the tiny white flowers of snow flying through the air as I was planting bulbs.   It was, as always, fun to be doing something in the garden, despite – or perhaps because – of the weather.

In fact, when I was finished with the planting, I added one more layer…and a hat…and went for a short walk down by the marsh.



pink-and-orange-berries1I wish I knew what these pink and orange berries were.   They were growing on a small tree/bush on the marsh side of the road.  Because of that location, I assume that it was a wild plant, but I can’t say that for sure; who knows how property plots may be laid out along the road…and even if its wilderness land, there’s no guarantee that birds haven’t brought in the seed from some fancy landscape star to the location.

Anyway, I like these berry/seedpod things, since you don’t see pink ones very often.  This time of year, of course, they’re very striking.   

They seem to crack open a little in the center, as some of them have an orange center pod thing to them (none of the ones I managed to focus on, though).  And it seems to me to be kind of rare that you see those two colors so closely combined.  So that’s nice, too.


mum-down-the-streetI didn’t walk all the way down to the bayshore.  It was pretty chilly and windy out there.  But it was nice to go for a brisk walk on such a fine morning and see what was happening in the world.

Last week, I showed you some pretty golden mums with sort of tubular petals.   This ruffly red chrysanthemum is from a different patch of the same garden, which is just down the road from the Nest.  

I sure do love how the mums keep carrying on so late in the season out here.

As forecast, the sun did come out for a while in the afternoon and we saw some awfully pretty blue skies.   But our temperature never rose above 34 and in fact, dropped down to 26 (!!) overnight.  The season has turned and so the garden shows of today’s may soon be a thing of the past.  


But also, a thing of the future.   Which really is the best thing about gardening.  There’s always hope, always a chance to start fresh. 

To begin again.



Comments on: "Late Autumn Gardens" (20)

  1. This sunset picture is one of the most perfect shots of the sun’s setting I’ve ever seen. Beautiful!
    I had never heard the term graupel before. That is what we get down here more often than snow. Well, that and freezing rain. Mostly freezing rain. We’ve always referred to graupel as hail, though. Whatever it is, it sounds cold! Be careful on those steps, Greg!
    The allyssum is bright and cheerful so late in the season. That poor ol’ coneflower looks pretty sad. Time for a rest, little coneflower plant.

    It was a great sunset pic. Definitely worth leaving work for a few minutes, as I did to capture that one.

    Hail only happens, I’m told, around a thunderstorm. It’s graupel the rest of the time…or ten other terms depending on the individual conditions and such. I think I learned graupel as a result of talking to someone how Inuit might have more names for “snow” than we do. I’m happy to say the steps are inside!

  2. Gorgeous photos as always!! :)

    Thanks, T!!

  3. Congratulations on your still-not-smoking Greg! Your ocean photos always hit me right in the chest, I have such a yearning to live on a clifftop overlooking the sea, although with global warming most cliffs on the UK south coast are probably in danger of some spectacular erosion. It doesn’t put me off though, I still dream.

    Your allysum will almost certainly survive the winter; I don’t know if its ’cause it self seeds or if the plant overwinters but we had a lot of it in the garden when I was a child up north and the winters were bitter there. We only planted once and up it popped all by its-self ever after.

    Those colourful lobed berries are intriguing as I have occasionally seen them in coastal areas in the UK but I have no idea what they are, if anyone can tell you I’ll be so interested to know.

    Oh, and you have alliums! They are beautiful spectacular things! This makes me want to think about our garden for next year now :) New beginnings… That is what is so good about this time of year, it makes you think of the future.

    Such a perfect and lovely comment, my dear Bird! I thank you for the continued support of my cigarette free life!

    Glad you enjoy those water pics. I often get technical with folks and say “That’s NOT the ocean, it’s the bay”, but it’s a pretty piddly difference if you don’t leave hereabouts. Of course, we never see the sunset over the ocean. Only the bay. But I guess that’s cause we know Plymouth is right there at the horizon. ; ) Still, it was pretty stunning last night, for sure!

    I love alliums. Had them two years ago, and never got to plant any for last spring…so I was excited to find these at the grocery, just wanting for me!

    Well, now we know our mystery berries bloom on both sides of the pond; that must be some sort of Clue. I suppose we now must wait for someone with more Clues than we. ; ) Anyone…??

  4. Congrats on the four months! I knew graupel, being a weather freak and all. I really love that sunset (rise?) picture.

    SunSET. Looking west. Over the bay. Water almost all around us here. ; )

    Thanks for the congrats. Nice to know someone else knows graupel!!

  5. Glad that things are coming together on the blog and reflecting more of Midnight Garden’s “individuality.” Those berries REALLY stick out against what has become quite the barren land for the fall season. And I must say that photo of the sunset is spectacular! Well captured! :-)

    I can’t beleive it’s taken me so long to figure out how to do the blogroll. “Too much on my mind this fall?” Whattaya mean? ; )

    Thanks for the sunset props–all about getting there at the right moment, really!

  6. Beautiful! I love alyssum. I wish I could grow it with the light I have, but too much shade in my yard. And YOU GO on the abstinence from the cancer sticks! Go! Go! Go!

    I’m going, I’m going!! Thanks, Bokey! : )

    Allyssum’s a must have for me, when light conditions allow. I find I can always find a patch of sun for some!

  7. I was enjoying my stroll through the Garden (as usual), trying out my word for the day, “graupel.” Then I saw that sunset. Wow. Powerful image. Thanks, Greg.

    My pleasure, Birdie. I know you love those sun-over-the-water shots! Glad to toss a new word in your direction!

  8. Great blog, beautiful photos and articles. Very informative. Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work. Rick

    Hi Rick. Thanks for stopping by the Midnight Garden and also for your kind words. Come visit anytime, and I’ll be checking out your blog shortly, as well!

  9. That is totally the most awesome sunset! :)

    Thanks, Indigo! I’ve long believed that the best sunsets out here on the Cape happen in the off-season!! Don’t tell the summer folks!

  10. I almost don’t want to leave a comment, because I’m just echoing everyone else, but the fact is, that IS a spectacular sunset picture, four months free of cigarettes is definitely worth celebrating… and graupel is my new favorite word. It makes me giggle just to say it. Graupel.

    Graupel graupel graupel.

    Hee hee hee.


    The off-season in most places is full of a beauty that get overlooked by most. Even here I often feel like my winter walks in the park are extra-special, in part because I so often will have the place almost to myself. When I was still dogwalking, Central Park was almost my private kingdom in the Winter months. It was a little hard not to resent the sudden influx of crowds as Spring approached. I can be such a misanthrope sometimes.

    Graupel, graupel, graupel. Hee hee. It IS a fun word…and the stuff doesn’t happen often enough, so I’m with you about a festival of Saying It!!

    Although they can be pretty cold in the off-season, I have similar feelings about Cape Cod Beaches in wintertime. They are almost entirely mine, assuming I dress warmly enough to enjoy them! It’s always sort of sad when summer’s peak arrives and you can’t get anywhere near the beach.

  11. Hey Greg, I know it’s late but I couldn’t resist leaving a comment when I saw the red mum. Looks beautiful. Wherever I see mum I can’t resist admiring them and here I am. Hope that mum is still thee in your garden and survives the frost.

    I’m afraid to hope, Chandramouli; it’s been so cold this weekend (low 20 degrees, F) that I’m afraid it’s more of a frost than even mums can survive. But they’ll be back to start again in a few months, so no worries!

  12. Gorgeous sunset! We had a great one a couple days ago here as well. I noticed the neighbor across the street up on his roof, looking west. I’d been so busy with another project that seeing him was my first clue to look at the sky.

    The pinkberries are great, too. As you say, they provide some color when most things have started to pull on their brown and gray wool Pendletons. Everything is starting to look suddenly serious, and then there’s this little explosion of color. Beautiful.

    I’m glad your neighbor’s rooftop antics were enough to call your attention. Isn’t it something when you are busy at work on some project or other and look up to see what an amazing world you’re working in?!?

    I like the way you put it, about the natural world getting so serious looking. Those winter tones do seem like church-goin’ clothes or something…

  13. Hey there. Echoing everyone else. Wondering if the pink and orange berries are perhaps bittersweet. There’s an invasive version and one that’s native to America. See link here:

    Not sure how big your berry bushes are, but it’s possible that the berries are on vines in among shrubs. It’s only a guess on my part.

    Hey yourself! : ) Not sure if those pink berried bushes (not vines) were bittersweet, but will have to go back for a better look soon. (It seems impossible, but next week it will already time to go out with pruners and find some interesting things to tuck into my Christmas wreath!)

    That they were pink alone seems to make them unlikely to be bittersweet. Also, those pink pods were four-lobed, instead of merely round like the bittersweet, with the orange bit appearing in the center of those four lobes.

    Thanks for doing the search and providing such an enlightening link, though – who knew bittersweet was a support species for the American bluebird?

  14. Your plant is in the bittersweet family. It is a tree or a shrub. It’s scientific name is Euonymus atropurpurens. It has sveral common names Eastern burningbush, Wahoo,

  15. I love the sunset photo. Gorgeous!

  16. Lovely photos. I believe those pink flower-like berries are spindle berries. Have a look here:

    I just discovered myself, after picking some for a festive display.

  17. Hello there. While researching that same lobed berry I happened upon your website. I just wanted to let you know I found out what it is. It’s called a Euonymus (you-WAN-a-miss), spindle bush or Parcel Berry. They are from East Asia but have been found in Europe, Asia, North America and Madagascar.
    I found them on our property as well along with many other plants that have grown wild and was dying to know what they are. They certainly are beautiful this time of year.
    Thanks, Kristy! They sure are pretty – never guessed they might be one more variety of euonymus – I appreciate the clue!

  18. Your photo of the mystery pink/orange seeds reminds me of a plant I recently photographed here in Virginia. It is in the bittersweet family. Sometimes called hearts-a-bursting, the pods of the strawberry bush have pink capsules in four lobes which open up to dangle orange-red berries on threads. Here’s a website with wonderful photos.
    Virginia Tech has some great plant id face sheets, and this is the one for the
    Do that seem to match?

  19. Hi there,
    I appreciate this is a very old thread and I don’t know if anyone else commented after 3/11/10, but I don’t think the tree you saw was your native Strawberry Bush, as the fruit on that has a textured skin, but the one you photographed appears to have a smooth skin like that of the Euononymus europaeus. This was introduced to North America where it became an invasive species in some areas. Also although it is called a ‘Strawberry bush’ in the USA, the fruit is NOT edible to humans or most animals.

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