Contributed by Guest Blogger Rick Sellano

Photos by Rick Sellano

A fan of imagery, I see autumn’s purple flowers bowing to the majesty of the Arboretum's roses, still blooming in their namesake garden. If there’s such a thing as a pecking order for flowers, wouldn’t the stunning red, orange, yellow, and white roses be at the top? Maybe not! After all, purple is the color with royal connotations. We trace its regal roots to the purple garbs of Roman magistrates, Persia's King Cyrus and rulers of the Byzantine empire.

In any light, purple blossoms are a visual treat. They offer a contrast to other floral colors—particularly their complement, yellow. Visits to Morris Arboretum in September and October provide terrific opportunities to spot purple afoot with New York ironweed, lavender, asters and more.

A wildflower, New York ironweed thrives at the Arboretum. You can find it along the walk leading to the Rose Garden. Named to honor English botanist William Vernon, ironweed (Vernonia novaboracensis), is in bloom now. You’ll see garden visitors enjoying it, including busy bees and butterflies attracted to its nectar-rich flowers.



Storied lavender also grows along the Rose Garden path and much of Morris Arboretum. In fact, we might imagine patches of lavender growing from the here to Provence, France and back. Gardeners worldwide nurture one or more of the 47 known species—most plants grown for their timeless fragrance, culinary uses or antiseptic properties. For example, look for Lavandula × intermedia 'Provence' in the Rose Garden.



The genus Aster has more than 600 species. Almost all of the North American species are now in the genus Symphyotrichum.  You can appreciate the simple beauty of S. oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ and S. laeve ‘Bluebird’along walks and in flower beds of the Arboretum.



Eager to grab our attention, the many noteworthy trees of the Arboretum will soon begin their autumnal change, their leaves to wrap us in warm, caramel colors. Still, no matter how you look at it, there’s so much more than fall foliage to enjoy during this season! It's a perfect time to take in the Morris Arboretum's gardens, lush with flowers of countless varieties. Enjoy some fascinating ones that I think are "born in the purple" and bloom that way.