In her groundbreaking 1993 book Noah’s Garden, the great environmental writer Sara Stein said that by this time of year, it seems like Nature’s clock has wound down and stopped. However,
. . . the pendulum has in fact reached the height of its swing, has stored more energy than at any other time of year, and is poised to descend with all the gathered momentum of warm summer days down through the cold to spring. Energy is stored in the goose that has been eating our grass all summer, in the honey the bees have stored up in their hive, in the fruit and in the sweet sap trees have stashed in their roots.
Energy is stored in fruits, in buds, and in rosettes of new green leaves. It’s all there, ready for spring. You just have to look for the signs.
Many perennials grow next year’s leaves in fall. In this photo, taken this week, you can see spring leaves of columbine, spiderwort, and queen of the prairie.
A goldenrod plant has grown a large rosette of leaves and several small offshoots.
Viburnum prunifolium has produced big fat flower buds that are clearly distinguishable from smaller leaf buds.
And the catkins–next spring’s male flowers—of hazelnuts are fully formed and waiting for warm weather to elongate and release pollen.