October’s whispers, subtle and unobtrusive, drop clues of gardens’ metamorphosis: drooping purple cone flowers having had too much sun; sagging lamb’s ears losing their springiness; yellowing edges of hostas collapsing on the ground; browning of once lavender sedum blooms sagging over ceramic pots; black-eyed susans and sunflowers bereft of seeded centers; sparse knockout roses clinging to nearly-bare branches; and clumps of yellow and white mums boasting hardiness into November. Annuals have already been dug up, their colors having brightened passersby.

Upon these same whispers also float changes in shrubs: red berries cresting drooping dogwood leaves, yellowness creeping up forsythia branches, gray-greenness puckering lilac leaves, blushing berries clustering on branches of Christmas hollys, evergreens spitting pine cones on walkways, London plane tree’s bark hardening before the onset of winter’s thievery, lackluster leaves on viburnums grieving the approaching cold, and so much more.

Such perennials have to die, but with proper care return each spring. 

And with these changes also appear boisterous Jack-o-lanterns, gourds of yellows, oranges, whites, and greens, ornamental cauliflower heads, broomstick-riding witches, ghosts, skeletons, werewolves—prelude to Halloween’s deepening darkness and meditation, if so moved.

Whether it’s October’s whispers or shrieks, we’re invited to take stock of this strange beauty and listen. No October is like any other.