October 5, 2011 | Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator & Director of Outreach

Tricked you! You were expecting aspen, weren't you? Well...there is a lot more gold than just aspen in our mountains and also in our gardens this autumn. Everyone who's been in the hills the last few weeks has proclaimed this the best aspen autumn ever. There's still time to drink some color up, but you better hurry! By the way, you will have to walk a few miles to get to our visitor center on Mount Goliath--the Mount Evans highway closed on October 1. It is a lovely hike nonetheless! And the willows are at their peak (I took that picture last Friday).  

For those who are just too lazy to drive up Squaw Pass or the Peak to Peak highway (or who have "been there, done that"), the York Street Gardens are bursting at the seams with color right now, and gold is very much in evidence. Witness this golden explosion of fireworks in the grand O'Fallon Perennial Walk! I saw the wild form of this species in a North Carolina meadow last week looking very much like this, one of the most amazing of its ubiquitous genus. 

The golden delight that has surprised me most is this: I took the picture above on October 4, on that narrow ledge along 9th Avenue just south of the Waring House at our York Street site where a number of Plant Select gems are growing exuberantly, none more so than this wonderful patch of chocolate flower. I arrived in the morning for a meeting, and the chocolate smell was wafting for dozens of feet. I nearly swooned as I got out of my car. The plant was buzzing with bees and simply glorious in its golden magnificence.

If you do not grow chocolate flower, you are missing out on one of the toughest, longest blooming and most delightful of our native daisies. I know, yellow daisies are a dime a dozen! Bring them on! They are like floral sunshine, which I can't help thinking we all need to hoard as we sink further into the darkest season of the year.

I remember bringing seed back of this wonderful plant from Southern Colorado nearly 30 years ago from Baca County where it is abundant. Little did I suspect that this would become one of the most widely grown Plant Select plants, sold from coast to coast and popular even in Europe and Australia!

I shall end my blog with a short quote from Keat's marvellous "Ode to Autumn."

"...close, bosom friend of the maturing sun/conspiring with him how to load and bless/with fruit the vines that round the thatch eaves run/to bend with apples the moss'd cottage eaves/and fill all fruit with ripeness to the core/To swell the gourd and plump the hazel/with a ripe kernel. To set budding more/and still more later flowers for the bees/until they think warm days will never cease."


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