Asters "Pink Cloud" and "Monch" with a few last flowers of Rose Campion

Autumn Asters and Fall Fungi

I heard something recently about the two words used for this time of year (in the northern hemisphere). It’s the only season with two words to describe it. “Fall” is most commonly used in North America and “autumn” in Britain.

“Fall” is a one-syllable word that does the job of indicating the time of year when a lot of leaves hit the ground. Okay, there’s the additonal implication of failure and downgoing, as in the Fall of the Roman Empire. But think of “fall fair”–prize vegetables, flowers, and livestock. Deep-fried things to eat. Bales of hay. Fiddle music. Fall is fine.

“Autumn” sounds poetic and nostalgic. It actually works better in written form, at least in North America. People from the Old World, with suitable accents, can get away with using it in conversation, but for most of us it sounds hoity-toity and uber-refined. And of course it has that silent “n,” which adds a certain mystique.

I generally say “fall,” but sometimes I write “autumn.”

However you describe it, October is THE month. It’s not really cold, days have not yet been cut brutally short by the return to Standard Time (for which the mnemonic is “Fall back”), and the leaves are in a state of glory before they (yes, sadly) fall.

maple leaves, orange leaves, yellow leaves
Aster frikartii "Monch"
Asters are the thing to see in the garden right now. This is Aster frikartii “Monch”
Late-blooming purple aster (variety unknown)
These asters (variety unknown) don’t start blooming until October, and are sometimes flattened by early wind and rain storms.
Boletus mushroom October 2020
Mushrooms sprouted when warm days followed a week of rain. This is some sort of Boletus, probably edible. I didn’t nibble it, but something else did.
Amanita muscaria button
Amanita muscaria button. Cute, but definitely not edible.
Amanita muscaria mushroom
A week later, it’s all grown up, looking a bit out of place among hardy cyclamen flowers.
Allium christophii seed head
Another Covid-19 lookalike, otherwise known as a seed head of Allium christiophii
Fallen maple leaves and Geranium "Anne Folkard" October 2011
More beauty in decline–flowers of Geranium “Ann Folkard,” fading foliage, and fallen leaves.
Yellow rose; photo taken from living room window
What may be the last rose of the year; photo taken from a window.
Orb-weaver spider and web
Orb-weaver spider. They’re still with us…

I hope everyone is having a fabulous fall. Or an amazing autumn.

And a splendid spring to those in the southern hemisphere!


  1. It is fall/autumn here in Spain. There is a nip in the air when I take the dog for her morning walk but still lovely and warm and sunny in the daytime. Such a great time of the year. I love the asters and chrysanthemums. There is always something magical about mushrooms!

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  2. Beautiful fall pictures. Your fall colors look like ours which should not be peak for another two weeks. I have noticed an abundance of flowers of late, many of them are summer flowers like a fuschia tha has received what is probably its last act before being taken out by frost.

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  3. If winter is entombment,
    then autumn is the funeral.
    Mourn the loss of daylight,
    begrudge the evening gloom.
    Dig your burrows,
    gorge your bellies,
    bury your stores nut-full bounty.
    For the hoarfrost beards all who remain,
    those who have no cabin warm and glowing.

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  4. Great photographs, Audrey, no matter how the season is addressed. I generally use the word “fall” when writing for kids, just because it’s easier to read. OR, use that first and then refer to it later as “autumn,” so young readers have had a clue as to the meaning:)

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  5. We were up to our eyebrows in orb spiders, and especially their webs, up until a week or so ago, then they suddenly all disappeared. The temperature dropped a few more degrees and the rain set in. I suspect they’ve all caught the last plane south.
    I’m an ‘Autumn’ person, having grown up in Australia where it is the norm, and even though I’ve been here, In Canada, for 16 years, ‘fall’ still doesn’t evoke the same imagery. : )

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  6. Autumn is my third favourite season, right after spring and then summer. I would prefer it to our very hot summers if it wasn’t followed by horrible winter. I don’t like the dry brownness of our winters. It is funny to think we have opposite seasons.

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    1. I agree that dry and drab brown landscapes would be depressing. One of the reasons I welcome autumn is because I no longer have to make sure I water my dozens of potted plants; it gets tedious after weeks and weeks.

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