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FALL BRINGS ON THE HARDIEST OF BLOOMERS and keeps the gray days a little brighter. The promise of cooling temperatures spurred this little echeveria runyonii ‘Topsy Turvy’ into bloom early last month. I love the autumnal color of the flowers and hated to consign them to the ready-for-winter coldframe, so I flirted with frost danger and kept them on the deck until yesterday. I nipped off the flower stalks and brought them into enjoy their last blooms.

I like the thin spoke-like petal of this chrysanthemum. It begins blooming late September and is just now beginning to fade.

Nerine lilies always seem an unlikely and exotic color for late autumn, the lavish flowers standing tall on leafless, wiry stems. They have a very long bloom time.

ROSES are not yet ready to give up; I snapped these photos just before gusty winds and 40° temperatures hit on Wednesday. This one, appropriately, is Iceberg.

Chicago Peace

Bill Warriner

This is one of many self-seeding nicandra physalodes also known as ‘Apple of Peru’, that have sprung up throughout the vegetable garden; a combination of seeds from compost and those inadvertently spread by me when removing the plants from the garden. I am finding the seed heads much like those of poppies and columbine – handle with care! On the other hand I love the shape of the seed pods and they become papery as they dry, similar to physalis. The lavender flowers resemble those of eggplant, only much larger. They thrive in the nutrient rich beds of the vegetable garden and easily reach five feet and stalks and inch or more in diameter! They are proving to be quite cold hardy and were still sprouting through much of October.

Rounding out the fall parade of blooms are the cyclamen, pink and white. These are also prolific seeders and quickly form a thick mat of corms. The leaves provide a welcome variety of leaf color and form all winter after the flowers have faded.