Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – October 2008

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Cassian' with Aster oblongifolius

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

A selection of flowers, foliage, fruits and seedheads for your viewing enjoyment on this most glorious of Bloom Days in southeastern Pennsylvania…

Forsythia viridissima 'Kumson'

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Cassian' with Muhlenbergia capillaris

Gymnaster savatieri

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Echinacea purpurea seedheads with Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks' and Molinia caerulea 'Skyracer'

Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon' fruits with Aster oblongifolius and Cosmos bipinnatus

Salvia koyamae

Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal' with Rhus typhina 'Laciniata' and Acer triflorum

Salvia discolor

Iris ensata 'Variegata' with Ilex verticillata and Salvia leucantha

Side border with seedheads and grasses against Salix alba var. sericea

Aconitum carmichaelii with Rhus typhina 'Laciniata'

Front border with grasses and seedheads

28 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by joco on October 15, 2008 at 5:02 am

    Hiya Nancy,

    I am totally “gobsmacked”, pardon the vernacular.

    This must be the most beautiful post I have ever come across. Too much to comment on individually.

    Those combinations are like paintings. I want them on my walls. And I have written down many names. Thank you so much for giving us this treat.

    Ooh, now, “gobsmacked” is a word you don’t hear too often. I’m delighted to have inspired it (I think). I hope you’re planning to check out lots of other Bloom Day posts today; there will be many more beauties to see, I’m sure.
    -Nan

  2. Wow Nan !!

    I would love to walk around your garden at the moment – it looks fantatsic. I do love the grasses at this time of year and your plantings are stunning :-D

    If you would like a wander round my modest garden you’ll see it here :-D

    Thanks, Shirl! I certainly will be over for a tour. I’m hoping to do lots of virtual garden visiting today.
    -Nan

  3. Hi Nan, your combinations are thrilling! The echinacea seed heads provide such contrast to the grasses, but the aconitum and sumac are eye popping! You have plants I am not familiar with that provoke great envy. But the side and front borders show the genius of your plantings. I love everything!
    Frances

    Today I love everything too, Frances. Isn’t this the best time of year? The colors are so rich, and it’s ok that everything isn’t perfect.
    -Nan

  4. Posted by Sylvia (England) on October 15, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Lovely pictures Nan, your garden is a credit to you – I know you have worked hard to make it look so good. Is Salva discolor tender? I have seen it on other blogs and really want it!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Yes, the salvia is tender, Sylvia. The plant itself tends to be loose and sprawly (for me, anyway), and it doesn’t begin blooming until late summer, but the flowers are worth waiting for!
    -Nan

  5. What a beautiful garden you’ve created. I don’t have enough sun for most grasses so it is particularly enjoyable to see them used so well. The last shot is terrific but my favorite is the combination of Echinacea purpurea seedheads with Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’ and Molinia caerulea ‘Skyracer’.

    Thanks for posting on GBBD!

    Hi there, Linda! I’m so glad you liked the seedhead shot. It’s one of my favorites too, even though it’s not very colorful compared to some others.
    -Nan

  6. Those combinations are just so gorgeous.taking notes for my garden! i just love how your plants have a natural, organic flow and look, with softened edges.

    Thanks, Nicole! I don’t know how many of my favorite plants would translate to your growing conditions, but I hope you can enjoy some of them, at least.
    -Nan

  7. Nan,

    It all looks great and the ornamental grasses are excellent. How tall is the salvia leucantha? The front border is really something!

    Thanks, Dave! The Salvia leucantha in that shot is about 3 feet tall (the winterberry is a baby), because it’s sort of shaded; in sunnier parts of the garden, it reaches 4 to 5 feet.
    -Nan

  8. I remember the book you did with Stephanie Cohen, showing your newly planted garden. (The pink book–I’m on a public library computer & can’t remember the exact title.) How many years ago were those photos for the book taken? You’re garden has grown so much!

    Uh huh – we call it “the pink book” too. Its proper title is The Perennial Gardener’s Design Primer. Those photos would have been taken about five years ago, when the garden here was just about three years old. Things have indeed come a long way since then!
    -Nan

  9. Nan, I am having a sensory overload…I mean in the best way! Your garden and the photographs of your plant combinations are spectacular. The aconitum with Rhus may be the winner! Thank you for the tour! gail

    I like that one too, Gail. The monkshood isn’t at its best, but it does look awesome peeking through the sumac. Thanks for visiting!
    -Nan

  10. Okay, I’m ready to dig up my ginormous Forsythias & plant ‘Kumson’ instead. I’ve been reluctant to do so because I love how the foliage of my Forsythia turns purple in autumn & I feared the newer dwarf ones wouldn’t do the same. The Muhly grass is sublime, I must find a place for some. I’ve been looking for a Monkshood to replace the nasty one I’ve got. Does A. carmichaelii have any disease or wilt problems? I wonder if that is the same species that I have. I love the color with the autumnal tones of foliage, so I don’t want to be without it. Your Aster/Symphyotrichum oblongifolius inspired me to get some for my garden.

    I can’t say enough good stuff about ‘Kumson’ forsythia: great variegation, lovely fall color, and at least a few blooms open almost all the time from October through March. You’ll love it! The Aconitum carmichaelii…well, it’s not so easy, at least for me. My older plants get what I think are cyclamen mites, which turn the buds black in summer. But it does seed around, so I always have a few younger plants coming along in new areas of the garden.
    -Nan

  11. Stunning photos. Your fall garden has to be amazing in person. I just went through two of your books (the one on ornamental grasses and the ‘Fallscaping’ title) and I have to say that both were excellent. I was making notes along the way writing down promising ornamental grasses. They are so many choices and your books are really helpful.

    Hey, thanks so much, Phillip! I’m so glad to hear that the books have been useful to you. The grasses book sure could use an update; so many great species have come into more widespread use and new selections have been introduced since then.
    -Nan

  12. Posted by Lisa at Greenbow on October 15, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Such color and form Nan. You are a true artist.

    You’re too kind, Lisa. Thanks for visiting!
    -Nan

  13. I just don’t know which of the compositions (they’re much more than just photos) that I liked best. They were all thrilling. What’s so interesting is to see how different your Blooms Day in your part of the country is so different from mine. It definitely looks like autumn in your part of the world. Love it. Okay, maybe it’s the echinacea seedheads and grasses that I liked best. :-)

    I’ll have to come over and see what’s popping in your neck of the woods. It may look like fall here, but it hasn’t much felt like it with the warm, dry weather we’ve been having. We’re still desperate for rain, but at least it will be seasonably cooler by tomorrow.
    -Nan

  14. So glad I found your site – Marvelous pictures!!

    Thank you, Barbara. How fun to have some new visitors!
    -Nan

  15. I was going to say how gorgeous the first photo was, of the grass and aster. But then I would have had to keep on repeating myself. Beautiful, beautiful form, structure, colour and photos!

    That’s ok, you’re allowed to repeat yourself. I have the same thing happen when I’m visiting everyone else’s Bloom Day posts!
    -Nan

  16. I love the side borders with the grasses and seedheads. So dramatic with the dark dried plants against the bronzes and burgundy.

    Thanks, Bonnie. That side garden isn’t nearly as showy as the more-colorful front border, but it does have a quieter beauty of its own.
    -Nan

  17. Nan, I am reduced to echoing previous commentators – torn between “gorgeous” and “stunning” with some definite aconitum envy.

    With frost inevitable your contrasts edge close to violent, don’t they – raging against the dying of the light. What a vision you have.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Oh, don’t waste too much envy on the monkshood, Annie; I know you still have lots of beauties down your way.
    -Nan

  18. You have taken my breath away! (Literally!!!) Your combinations are wonderful and the variety offers unexpected contrast! I’ll have to bookmark this post. (You also have a keen eye to catch one little blue flower in the midst of all that vibrant red/orange/yellow!) Thanks for the tour. :-)

    Thanks so much, Shady. I’m honored that you’d think the post would be worth a return visit.
    -Nan

  19. How old is your ‘Flying Dragon’? I bought mine about three years ago and have been looking forward to the huge, recurved thorns. Don’t know if it will bear fruit in the Pacific Northwest, but after seeing yours, I sure hope so.
    When I gardened in town, folks used to screech to a halt to ask about the Salvia leucantha. I sort of forgot about it…thanks for the reminder…and for all of the beautiful shots of your exceptional garden.

    Hi, Ricki! The ‘Flying Dragon’ has been in that spot for about 5 years now, and it’s been fruiting generously for the last three years, at least. It is even self-sowing now, and the seedlings are contorted too. I hope yours sets fruit soon!
    -Nan

  20. Utterly glorious, Nan, you are most assuredly the master of fallscaping. You should write a book. Oh, wait…you did! I’ve recommended it to many, many people. Now if I could just get that gorgeous, gorgeous pink Muhlenbergia to grow here.
    One thing I wanted to tell you; I have NEVER yet found Fireworks solidago or any ornamental solidago for sale in Nova Scotia. I wonder if it’s because we have so many wild goldenrods that nurseries won’t carry it because they think it won’t be popular. I saw it for real in Powell Gardens, Missouri at the end of August and was more smitten with it than ever. Deeply tempted to dig up a little piece and smuggle it home, but didn’t think that Customs would approve, on my first trip to the USA!

    No solidagos for sale, Jodi? Say it isn’t so! Honestly, though, they’re a tough sell even here unless they are in bloom, and then that’s not an ideal time to transplant them. Sigh. People don’t know what they are missing!
    -Nan

  21. That border couldn’t look better in full flower than it does with its’ autumn robes. Great combos and the aconitum through the sumac is a gift I won’t soon forget!

    Thanks, Layanee! You’re right about that front border; it doesn’t look all that exciting during the growing season, because the bloom times of the perennials mostly don’t overlap. But it truly serves its planned purpose of fall and winter interest.
    -Nan

  22. Nancy,
    These photographs are gorgeous. I am tempted by those grasses, and I think the Muhly grass is a must buy for the spring. Thank you.

    Thank *you* for visiting, CW. I do hope you can get some of the pink muhly for your garden; you’ll adore it.
    -Nan

  23. Posted by geraldine pease on October 18, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    I love your website…I’m trying to remember how I came across it…was it in the NYT’s…can’t remember. There is a person (Tom Spencer) here in Austin, Texas who has a wonderful website also called “soul of the garden” which may be of interest to garden lovers. g

    Thanks so much for visiting, Geraldaine, and for the suggestion of the other site. I’ll check it out!
    -Nan

  24. All of it is so beautiful. You’ve just sold another copy of your fall landscaping book! Thanks for joining in for bloom day.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

    As always, it’s my pleasure to play a part in this wonderful tradition you’ve created for the garden-blogging community, Carol.
    -Nan

  25. You have the most amazing eye for colour, contrast and form, and for plant combinations. The plantings are simply stunning.

    I’m so glad you visited again, Nicole. Thanks for the kind comment!
    -Nan

  26. Nan, your gardens are inspiring, and a real credit to you. What an artist you are when it comes to design! The fall grass colors and seed heads make the perfect fallscape and are pretty as a picture.
    That salvia leucantha is really beautiful. Is it hardy?
    Did you get a lot of snow? It was a doozy of a storm for this early in the season, wasn’t it?

    Thanks, Kerri! No, sadly, the Salvia leucantha isn’t hardy here. We didn’t get too much snow, fortunately – just about a half-inch, plus 4 inches of rain. We really needed the rain, but the snow I could have done without.
    -Nan

  27. Posted by ourfriendben on November 6, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Ye gods, Nan, what a glorious sight! Between the front and side borders, the ‘Kumson’ forsythia,and the ‘Caspian’ pennisetum and muhlenbergia, I’m speechless. Wow. And, of course, who wouldn’t love ‘Heavy Metal’ and ‘Flying Dragon’?! October is the finest month.

    I have to agree with you about October being a glorious gardening month. I’m sure not going to have much to share for November’s Bloom Day.
    -Nan

  28. Wow. You have a lovely vision. I like how you appreciate the beauty of the dying foliage later in the season. What is that plant with the large yellow fruit next to some English Aster?
    GartenGrl at Planning Plants to Plant

    Thanks for visiting! The plants in question are Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’ (contorted hardy orange) with Aster oblongifolius (aromatic aster).
    -Nan

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