Questing for early fall color in Vermont? Don’t neglect late-summer flowers

Every new blushing tree in Vermont now heralds the arrival of fall’s kaleidescopic eruption of color — but closer to earth, late-season flowers offer a spectacular first act.

Sunflowers, as ever, strut their stuff.

Goldenrod, a harbinger of fall if there ever was one, beckons from the edges of fields. Despite ugly rumors, the plant does not release sneeze-inducing pollen (Rule of thumb: a beautiful flower is pollinated by insects, not the wind).

Views from the windshield are only the beginning. Off the beaten path — and along sidewalks — other plants will shine until the first heavy frost.

Jewelweed, aptly named, glows intensely beneath the still-deep shade of trees.

Tiny, star-shaped (and star-named) asters are everywhere, mostly at ground level.

Lower angles of sunlight this time of year yield a seasonal intensity to late-bloomers like purple-crowned Joe Pye weed.

Marigolds burst forth from home gardens.

Ripening pods of scarlet runner beans glow like stained glass for an hour before sunset.

Cattail heads, seen as uniformly brown from a distance, take on tawny, even reddish hues, up-close.

Spectators need not know the names of every species to delight in the spectacle.

But, as with birding, the world is full of knowledgeable experts and hobbyists.

Can you name these beauties?

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 802-660-1843 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @VTgoingUp.

This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a subscription to the Burlington Free Press.