Light in October

In September, Autumn feels like a vacation from Summer. The cooler weather and softer light are both refreshing.


At a certain point in October, though, it starts to feel as if you are preparing to leave a beloved place.


The sun is so low in the sky that even the middle of the day feels like just before dusk.

The last of the sunflowers.
The last of the sunflowers.

Still, it is unwise to give in to seasonal melancholy. (I wonder if it is true that northern peoples are more given to depression.)

The Northern Sea Oats just gets better and better. The seeds turn from green to tan to golden brown.
The Northern Sea Oats just gets better and better. The seeds turn from green to tan to golden brown.

The soft light makes the fall colors shine. This year there is more fall color than usual at the end of October.

Starry Solomon’s Plume has nice fall color, doesn’t it?

We are also sustained by the many holidays and festivals that occur during the shortest days of the year.

Some asters are still blooming, like these Short's Aster.
Some asters are still blooming, like these Short’s Aster.

A few days in California or Mexico, if you can afford it, wouldn’t hurt either.

But the flowers of most have matured to small fluffy seedheads.
But the flowers of most have matured to small fluffy seedheads.

We cannot begrudge the earth its rest. Gardeners also need time off from the garden. I cannot imagine the life of a gardener where there is no winter. Sounds exhausting.

47 Comments on “Light in October

  1. It doesn’ t merely feel like ‘ just before dusk in the middle of the day’. It is. It gets dark so early now.The autumn light is beautiful; there just isn’ t enough of it.

  2. That’s the best photo I have seen of Northern Sea Oats. It’s what my eyes see but my camera is obstinate.

  3. I love this post. The soft light and colours are like the fade out in an old fashioned movie

  4. This is so true, what you say about the quality of light in late fall and winter, especially here in the PNW where the sun seldom shines during those seasons. We rarely see skies as blue as in your first few photos.

  5. Lovely post! And how true about October… Definitely the true transistion to our time away from the sun πŸ™‚

  6. Yes there are many people in the northern regions with SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. I guess there are special uv lights you can buy to help with this..

  7. So well-written, Jason. I think it’s OK to wallow a bit in the autumn melancholy, as long as it doesn’t take over–but I guess that’s what you said. It’s a beauitful, sensitive time of year. The light is incredible, isn’t it? Great photos and prose!

  8. Very true Jason. The ground and the gardener both need time to regenerate! Still, it is sad to see the flowers fading and the lack of light can be depressing in winter. Your Northern Sea Oats really are stunning. (I think I’ve said that before, but they are!)

  9. Poignant is the word to describe your post and this moment of the year. You can’t imagine being able to work in your garden during winter and I can’t imagine what I would feel like if I couldn’t. I think the way I feel about August here is more like how you feel about winter. Great photgraphs.

  10. It is so true. It is kind of sad to say goodbye to summer, but at the same time I think we need a break. We can dream of new plants, new ways to arrange in the garden in the long winter. I hope that your winter wonΒ΄t be as long and hard as the last. Four seasons are ideal, and I love them all.

  11. I agree with Gitte–“Four seasons are ideal, and I love them all.” In fact, autumn is probably my favorite and it always seems the shortest. I adore 70 degree days and 50 degree nights, but we are taking a real dip this weekend, might even see our first frost. Before you know it, we’ll be planning Thanksgiving dinner. Looks like the squirrles are ready–I see two nests in your first photo.

  12. No rest yet with temps in the upper 50’s! Bulbs came today and the weekend brings much digging. Funny too, many flowers are still in bloom. I was surprised to get home to see a garden with that much bloom. Anyway, I always look forward to the end of the season because it means less work and much needed rest.

  13. Beautiful photographs of your garden Jason, I love the light in October, it makes getting up early really worthwhile. Over here temperatures went up to 24c, (I think that converts to mid 70s). Its dark by 5 though so we have to make the absolute most of this whilst it lasts.

  14. How true Jason, I had never thought what it would be like to garden all year before….yes a break is needed, it gives us time to think and plan!
    How beautiful those tree pics are, your blue sky cheered me up no

  15. I was the gardener at a big hotel in Florida for a while in my younger days and you’re right-it was very exhausting. Trimming hedges all winter is not something I miss. I do like those sea oats!

  16. I always dread autumn, but since we had such nice weather for the most part, and beautiful colors on trees and plants, I was able to let go of some of my dread of winter and enjoy it this year. Now, we’ve had our killing freeze, and I am sad. I just hope spring comes at a decent time.

    You captured the beauty of autumn well.

  17. Honestly I’ve not been a very attentive gardener this year, but reading this leaves me melancholy. Fortunately holiday plans are already filling the calendar. Hope your winter will be a good respite. (Judy’s photos are gorgeous.)

  18. It has indeed been a beautiful October. I like your description of the “softer light,” Jason–I much prefer working outside in October sunshine than the harsh glare of July or August. As sad it is to say goodbye to the garden, this gardener could use some rest, too:)

    • What I hate in July and August are the days of heavy, humid heat – days where I come in from the garden drenched in sweat after even a little exertion.

  19. Beautiful photos. Last week was October, today feels like we jumped into November head-first. Even saw a dusting of snow :/

  20. I agree with you about the need for rest. As passionate as I am about my garden, I need a dormancy period,too. I love the line “We cannot begrudge the earth its rest.” Beautiful and so true. πŸ™‚

  21. Beautiful images. Chasmanthium has just gone into Pompeii. Here we don’t get terrible winters and I can always enjoy the garden but there’s definitely less to do outside and I’m quite happy about it. Planning new areas of the garden on paper and dream of the new season πŸ˜‰

  22. Hello Jason, I agree, there’s something very special about the light at this time of year with the sun so low in the sky, plants are back-lit and light is filtered through fading leaves. The line of trees at the back of the garden are lit in yellow as the sun goes down in front of the house. I can just sit and watch the yellow light slowly fade to dark.

  23. I’m very fond of all those fluffy seed heads at this time of year, some of which are very photogenic. Love your October light and colors.

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