Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
Youth is like spring, an over-praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.So said Samuel Butler in a quote celebrated in this issue's photo essay on fall foliage. As much as I love spring, I tend to agree with him. Little fuss is made about fall, but it is in this quiet mellowness that I think so much beauty - so much peace - can be found.
Still, few seem to anticipate fall as they do spring. Kids will dread it for it means going back to school. For many it will signal cold days ahead, and for everyone it will mean shorter days and an end to the season most associated with vacation, fun, and frolic. Fall will signal the arrival of the end of the year.
I won't look at autumn as an end, but as a beginning. I will excitedly await the temperature drop to the perfect level of crisp for donning a jacket and strolling through the park as fallen leaves snap beneath my feet. Already I'm planning the optimal week to visit Vermont to see autumn leaves in vivid, peak-season color. It will be my first time to see such a thing. No, for me fall won't be an end, but a beginning.
For most of you it will be a beginning too - probably the beginning of a garden yet-to-be since fall can be the best time to plant many natives. This issue of Native Plants is a great reminder of the ways in which fall is a season to celebrate - both within the garden and beyond it.
Because fall will mean a time to plant for many of you, we have dedicated much of this issue to advice about planting. In "Root of the Matter," our step-by-step guide to sowing a wildflower meadow takes into account what you will reap come springtime. And "Autumn Blossoms," (page 18) shows you which natives to plant (region by region) this fall to guarantee a gorgeous, vivid garden next autumn. For this season, "For Every Season," (page 32) focuses on planting those things that will endure for seasons and generations to come: trees and shrubs.
When you are not busy in the garden this fall, we give you more to ponder. If you won't make it to a place ripe with fall foliage this autumn, come along on our own fall journey. We'll show you what fall has to offer - in gold, orange, and purple - from the Northeast to the Southwest. Yes, the Southwest has fall color too!
On a more serious note, we get to the real root of all this beauty - seeds. We show you how the Wildflower Center is participating in a project that aims to safeguard the seeds of 10 percent of the world's flora by 2010 - the Millennium Seed Bank. A remarkable conservation method, seed banking guarantees the future of many of our native plants that can be used in agriculture, medicine, or industry. If this issue is any indication, it doesn't seem fall is the end of anything. Just the mellow signal of good things to come.