Autumn approacheth.

Signs of autumn's arrival--in my garden, around the neighborhood, in the kitchen. When chlorophyll recedes and greens blush into pinks, roses, reds. When leaves show off their full, true colors. When yellows, reds and oranges light up the landscape. When the air cools and breezes feel truly refreshing! Autumn is my favorite season, and I love its approach, its absolute colorful presence, and even its bleak departure (which, for me, simply signals time to prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas).

My Quickfire hydrangea, planted one year ago in late summer. It started blushing the loveliest rose color in August and is still flushed.
Signs of fall  hydrangea
Our Karen azaleas, which came with the house and have heartily endured several replantings around the garden, also start to change in early September. Tucked beneath are more blushing blooms: Autumn Joy sedum.
Signs of fall azalea
A closeup of the Autumn Joy. I love that they start out white, turn pink, and end the season on the prettiest bronze-rose note.
Signs of fall sedum
Route 66 coreopsis, which I put in about a month ago (they were on sale at Home Depot so I couldn't resist). Although fall is not necessarily their bloom time, they are sparking up the garden with their multitude of lively two-tone yellow and rusty-red blooms.
Signs of fall coreposis
More blushing: Plumbago, which dies off completely in winter and arises from absolutely empty dirt every year, turns true blue in the midst of summer, and gets all rosy in the fall. I'm planting more of this in my borders in 2011.
Signs of fall plumbago
The fading of coneflowers surely means summer is on its way out. I leave mine up, all black and prickly, all through winter. They really do attract winter birds!
Signs of fall dying coneflower
The first of the holly berries on my China Boy/Girl holly plants! I've tried holly several times at several of my previous addresses, and this is the first time I've seen berries. I plopped a boy and girl plant into the same hole in the front yard, so they'll be entwined forever (and well fertilized). The berries are a bit sparse this year. I'm hopeful that over time the plants will settle in and give up nice fully berried branches each Christmas.
Signs of fall holly berry
Even though the marigolds bloomed yellow and orange all summer long (and will continue to do so right through Halloween), they look especially at home in the
season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
Signs of fall  marigolds
Likewise with the Chinese Lanterns. They've been orange for quite a while now, but I stongly associate their puffy bright orange blooms with autumn. I've cut a few branches for drying and entwining around the grapevine wreath on my front door. They remind me of my mom, who brought the magic of Chinese Lanterns and Silver Dollar plants into our home each year.
Signs of fall chinese lanternsThese really are quite invasive plants! You can virtually ignore them and they grow like mad.

A streak of red-orange maple leaves hint at the gorgeous blaze of color yet to come.
Signs of fall maple leaves
Acorns are flooding the sidewalks around here. At night, when it's very quiet, you can hear acorns smacking to the ground. It sounds like the squirrels are chucking them overboard.
Signs of fall acorns
A pretty dried oak leaf. Oak and maple leaves are my favorite.
Signs of fall oak leaf
My autumn Starbucks cups, posing with the Winter Solitude crow print. Over the years I've collected Starbucks cups for just about every season and holiday. The (somewhat premature) appearance of Pumpkin Spice Lattes is also a sure sign that fall is on its way. And try a shot of that pumpkin spice syrup in a mocha. Pumpkin and chocolate is a scrumptious combination!
Signs of fall  sbux mugs
As outdoor colors change, I start craving foods made from pumpkin like Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies, Pumpkin Ginger Waffles, Autumn Bisque, and these cakey pumpkin scones:
Pumpkin scones

I seriously never tire of pumpkin and have
lots of pumpkin recipes--some old favorites, some yet to be tried (and when I do you will see all the details here on this very blog). Seeing pumpkins (and Halloween candy, for cripes sake!) for sale in grocery store parking lots, even this early, has me excited for Halloween!

I hope you're enjoying signs of fall in your neighborhood. Feel free to share your favorite signs of autumn's arrival, and especially your favorite fall foods.