October is lingering into November. The temperature today was above 70, and the trees that still have leaves are gorgeous colors. Most of our garden is done for the year, but there are some signs of life.

Hollyhocks: one blooming, one budding

Native black-eyed susan

A couple yellow coneflower blooms

My best guess for this one is false aster. It’s been a cloud of white for weeks and shows no sign of stopping.

Ornamental kale – the only thing left in the pots of annuals

Reblooming rudbeckia – not as pretty as it was earlier this season, but spunky

One lonely dandelion

Lots and lots of calendula

The calendula is getting a head start on next year, too.

calendula seedlings

It’s the first of October, the prettiest month of the year. Our garden is much thinner than it was in the summer, but there is still plenty of activity.

Finally, one dahlia is blooming:

light-pink dahlia with a pale yellow center

Along with lots of calendula:

bright orange calendula

The appropriately named “autumn joy” sedum:

bright pink sedum flowers with a honeybee

Zinnias and cosmos are still flowering…

zinnia bud that's about to open

…while other flowers are at the end of their blooming, like this pearly everlasting:

pearly everlasting just before going to seed

and the black-eyed susan:

a seedhead and one shriveled flower

I haven’t figured out what’s been snipping off the black-eyed susan flower heads:

several stems without flowers

Coral bells are pretty all year but fit in best in autumn:

dark purple coral bells

The milkweed pods burst open this week without my noticing…

milkweed seed pod that has just opened, with seeds still inside

…and milkweed fluff is ending up everywhere, like in this wood’s pink aster:

aster with a couple milkweed seeds

Grasses are in seed:

possibly little bluestem

And even the raspberries are reacting to the season:

raspberry branch with yellow and red leaves

Some confused flowers, like pearly everlasting, are sprouting new plants after the recent rain and warm temperatures:

sprouting pearly everlasting

…or reblooming, like the tiny monster geranium does every fall:

one dark pink geranium flower

I love bee balm – which just might be prettier after it’s done blooming:

many seedheads with bright pink leaves

October is the prettiest month of the year, and I’ve got pictures to prove it. Every day the leaves seemed more beautiful than the day before.

Okay, okay, the first photo is from late September, but what’s a few days in an autumn like this?

Jay Cooke State Park near Duluth:

maple trees starting to turn behind the St. Louis River

Popple trees:

looking up at the tops of several yellow popples

I couldn’t stop taking photos at West River Parkway in Minneapolis, with its wide variety of colors that are gorgeous even on a cloudy day:

curved road with many colors of leaves on both sides

Still a few stray asters blooming:

an orange oak tree along the river, with one small purple flowering aster

A neighborhood one street off the parkway:

red, orange, brown, yellow, green trees surrounding a street

Moving on to northwest Minnesota, past peak but still plenty of color:

cattails in a swamp, with yellow popples and brown oaks behind

From the last weekend of October, the overlook at the top of Mount Charity at Latsch State Park with a few yellows and lots of dark oak leaves:

looking down from a cliff at trees, Highway 61 and the Mississippi River

And finally, a couple favorites from Octobers past:

red oak leaves up close

Sunny yellows at Lake Maria State Park:

walking path through yellow trees on a sunny afternoon

See more of my autumn photos at 87counties.com.

I remember learning that calendula is the October birth flower when I was a little girl, though I didn’t know then what it looks like.

a peach-colored calendula

Now that I have my own garden, I’ve been growing them for two years. The first year we had one peach-colored plant. This year I received a packet with a different variety, and many new yellow and orange ones grew in addition to several peach ones that reseeded.

a yellow calendula with a bud below it

Bees and other insects love them.

a bumblebee on an orange flower, a caterpillar crawling out of a yellow bud, and an orange beetle on an orange flower

The internet tells me that calendula was named after the calendar because it blooms the first of each month or with every new moon, though I haven’t noticed a pattern. They seem to bloom every day – and even appear to be picking up speed at the end of October, after several frosts. (Now that I think of it, a new moon just passed, and there were dozens of blooms today… hmm. Will pay better attention next year.)

an open calendula flower with two buds in the background

I hope birds like calendula seeds because last year I collected more than we could ever use, and it still spread like crazy. Maybe we should try an alternative way to appreciate the flowers: by eating them in salads.