Autumn is famed for its vibrant dashes of colour, so I headed out into my garden this week to see how the season's palette is progressing.
We think of spring as a prime time for yellows, but flower borders in autumn can still cling on to summer's blooms right into October or early November, so it wasn't hard to find yellows, such as this Rudbeckia lacinata, great for bees)...
...and Californian Poppies, better for hoverflies, but in this case a perch for a tiny parasitic wasp.
I was also able to find blues, none better than this, a male Common Blue, who verges into the purple side in his wings but whose body fur is paint-box blue.
But its reds we want to see in autumn, and some such as this Nasturtium, that have been home to my Large White butterflies while my cabbages have been safely netted, have been in radiant flower for months.
However, it is nature's turning from greens to reds that is so intoxicating.
It happens in apples, such as my Ida Reds (below), some of which I eat now, some of which go into storage to put out for the Fieldfares in winter.
The rambling rose hips are turning quickly, too. This is Rosa helenae, which I thoroughly recommend, or try Francis E. Lester. Both have relatively small hips, making it easier for birds to eat them.
But it is perhaps the leaf colour change that we relish the most, and my Red Maple is starting to 'do its thing'. The green chlorophyll that dominated the leaf colour is now breaking down. In many British trees, this reveals yellow pigments previously hidden, but a few tree species now actively produce red pigments called anthocyanins. Yes, the reds aren't revealed, they are actually made specially for this season.
So I thought I'd end with another common garden creature that actually 'ripens'. The Common Darter is the commonest dragonfly at this time of year, but when the males first emerge they are yellowy in colour. Now, at maturity, they are flush with autumn's fire.
It was only proven about five years ago that this is due to a simple chemical reaction (called reduction).
Just as the reddening of fruit signals it is ripe and ready to eat (and hence ready to spread its seed), so the reddening of male Common Darters signals that they, too, are now ready to mate and produce the next generation. All this autumn colour may be the fireworks as nature closes down, but it also points to the future, too.