A WALK AROUND THE GARDEN TODAY REVEALED SOME BRIGHT SURPISES. In spite of last week’s cold, freezing temperatures, many plants are just getting ready for the prospect of winter and others seem not to have noticed.

This combination of wild ginger, asarum caudatum and winter blooming cyclamen is vibrant green against fallen leaves and needles.

Heuchera ‘Marmalade’ is a warm and welcome color (even sporting some new growth) at this time of year and pairs well with lonicera nitida ‘Lemon Beauty’, below.

Nearby is a happy patch of saxifraga urbium ‘London Pride’ and fraise du bois, the little wild alpine strawberry, the seeds of which most likely hitch hiked with some of the saxifrage when it came from Grandma T’s garden.

Just now beginning it’s winter bloom is helleborus foetidus, the ‘Stinking’ hellebore. The lime green’flower’ bracts really light up a dark edge under a holly hedge.

Every season holds a little magic and fall seems to have two parts–the lovely color changes of leaves as the days begin to cool in September and the creeping cold by the end of November that signals a new round of plant activity. I actually look forward to this time of the year; I like the cold weather and the changes it brings, although the groundskeeper does not share my enthusiasms. My only complaint is the ever-shortening days.

Many plants, like iris foetidus get a chance to show off twice during the year; spring blooming flowers and bright, orange seedheads that spill open in late fall. The one drawback to this plant is it’s prolific ability to reproduce itself. It has a tendency to show up just about everywhere. Here it volunteered with rubus calycinoides, a creeping raspberry relative that produces small salmon colored fruit (edible). It makes a good groundcover under the red cedars and looks at home with asarum, ferns, and maianthemum. And, it’s completely drought tolerant.

This arabis procurrens, or rock cress was a bright, dainty surprise today. I think that this too came from Grandma T’s garden. It is an easy spreader and drought tolerant and will take light shade. I have it under hardy fuschias. The flower stalk is about three inches tall.

After blooming in early spring, pulmonaria kind of looses it’s oomph and flops for the summer but is revived with cooling fall days and rain and begins sending out new growth. The spritely green leaves splashed with white brighten a gloomy day.

And that concludes today’s tour.