Having several hundred photos to sort through made preparing this month’s Bloom Day post a daunting project, but also a fun one. After a few episodes of my computer freezing each time I added yet another image, I finally accepted that the post was getting even more excruciatingly long than usual. So, I’ve decided to split it into three parts: a proper Bloom Day post focusing on flowers and garden shots; another in a week or so for fruits, seeds, and grasses; and a third on leaves alone as my contribution to The Fall Color Project 2011.
An obvious place to start is with the classic fall-blooming perennials. Mum action around here is minimal, with just one representative, in the form of good old ‘Sheffield Pink’.
The few other mums I’ve had for years disappeared between last fall and this spring, but no matter; there are plenty of asters to take their place.
There are loads of New England asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), for starters. The one above is a seedling of (and looks identical to) what I originally bought as ‘Hella Lacy’. Most of the other N.E. asters are just about finished now, but I’d trimmed this one back lightly in mid-July, so it didn’t start flowering until early October. It neatly placed itself behind Limemound spirea (Spiraea x bumalda ‘Monhub’), with a bit of classic or narrow-leaved zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia).
Aromatic aster (S. oblongifolium) is also very happy here and seeds around freely. Some of the seedlings are pretty much done blooming now, but others still have fresh flowers coming along. Below are a few plants mingling with the red fall foliage of American ipecac or Indian physic (Gillenia stipulata) and the yellowing blades of ‘Dallas Blues’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum).
Each fall, I try to get the proper names of the little white asters straight in my mind, only to forget them again by the next autumn. It would help if they’d stay in one place, but I pull out loads of seedlings each year and new ones keep seeding in from the meadow, so I can never remember which is which. Doesn’t really matter, though, because they have a wonderful way of popping up in surprising places. The one above plastered itself against the side of a variegated boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘Elegantissima’), behind a seedling of ‘Harrington’s Pink’ New England aster.
The seedling below plunked itself down next to a red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) and used the shrub as a ready-made stake for its one perfectly straight, 6-foot-tall stem.
One of the asters that’s still an Aster – Tatarian aster (Aster tataricus) – started blooming just a week ago. Like the native asters, it’s a favorite with the many butterflies still passing through, and with the honeybees too.
Some orange coneflowers are still looking quite fresh even without a June trim. The one above was labeled as Rubeckia fulgida var. fulgida, but its flowers are smaller and started blooming many weeks later than those of the many other plants I have under that name. Maybe it’s deamii or another variety, or maybe I’ve been calling all of my other plants by the wrong name for the last 10 years. All of this confusion is giving me a headache. The plants are pretty, anyway, and that’s what really matters at the moment.
‘Low Down’ perennial sunflower (listed as either Helianthus angustifolius or H. salicifolius) is another cheery fall yellow, usually starting in mid- to late September.
Blue flowers aren’t really my favorites, but I can easily make an exception for the azure monkshoods (Aconitum carmichaelii Arendsii Group).
Golden lace started flowering back in August, and most of the clumps are in the process of making seed right now. They’re still looking good, though, thanks to the yellow stems of the umbels, which hold their color while the seeds are ripening.
I had deadheaded a few of the earliest-flowering clumps in late August, and they’re producing fresh flowers right now. Below you can see the bright yellow blooms against the darker yellow seedheads.
I’m happy to let Joe-Pye weeds (Eutrochium…Eupatorium…whatever) seed around, but it gets a little tricky when they settle in right next to a path. I ended up cutting these clumps to the ground twice this summer, and they’re blooming right now at a rather cute 12 to 18 inches. (Behind them is the American ipecac again.)
Most of the burnets (Sanguisorba) are setting seed now, but those I cut back lightly (about about 1/4) in late July are in fresh bloom at the moment. I’m pretty sure the one below is S. officinalis.
‘Taurus’ mountain fleeceflower (Persicaria amplexicaulis), above, has been blooming since July, and – thanks to yet another year with no Japanese beetles – still looks lush and flower-filled.
Most of the few roses I have left have also been reblooming freely for the past few weeks. Below is Blushing Knock Out (Rosa ‘Radyod’).
Late-blooming and long-blooming perennials and roses are only part of what makes fall gardening so absolutely glorious. Many tender perennials and slower-growing annuals don’t really come into their own until August or September, but then they look terrific until frost.
Oh, ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ dahlia – such a splendid red. Its September blooms quickly get bleached in strong sun and heat, but now their color stays rich for several days.
Some other favorite fall reds include ‘Red Threads’ Joseph’s coat (Alternanthera ficoidea), ‘Black Velvet Scarlet’ geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum), and ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard, below.
Cooler weather also brings out more blooms on the ‘Gartenmeister Bohnstedt’ fuchsia (Fuchsia triphylla), below.
Tropicanna canna (Canna ‘Phaison’), above, didn’t start flowering until last week, but the dark-leaved sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) shown below has been flowering from months. I started this one in April from seed I’d collected from an unnamed bronzy one last year. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t seem to want to set seed.
Above, the tiny orange flowers of cigar flower (Cuphea ignea) popping out through a tangle of ‘Purple Knight’ alternanthera (Alternanthera dentata) and Vertigo pennisetum (Pennisetum ‘Tift 8’).
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) usually get kind of stringy-looking here by midsummer, and some never really recover. Others manage to get through the hot weather and come back even better in fall. Below is one of those with Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’).
Some annual vines take quite a while to start blooming well. Above is ‘Joan Lorraine’ climbing snapdragon (Asarina scandens), which threw out a few blooms in August and September before starting to flower freely in early October. Below is Spanish flag (Mina lobata or Ipomoea lobata), also known as firecracker vine and exotic love. No sign of flowers until the third week of September, but now it’s making up for the late start.
Self-sowing annuals also help to provide fresh flowers and foliage for fall. Flowering tobaccos (Nicotiana), for instance, start sprouting outdoors as bare spaces appear in summer and begin flowering in August and September. And at this time of the year, having 3-foot-tall plants at the very front of the border doesn’t seem as much of a problem as it would have earlier on.
The original “Ondra’s Green Mix” from my previous garden is still my favorite, though it now also produces some browns and pinks, like the one below.
‘Psyche White’ cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus), shared with me a few years ago by a fellow blogger, is a gift that keeps on giving, popping up each year in just the right places. Here it’s mingling with ‘Sky Rocket’ fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum).
Below is one of my favorite self-sowers for fall flowers as well as summer foliage: variegated kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate (Persicaria orientalis ‘Shiro-gane Nishiki’). From the time it sprouts, its leaves are heavily and irregularly splashed with cream to white, so the seedlings are easy to identify and move if needed. The variegation isn’t so showy by the end of summer, but by that time, the 5- to 7-foot-tall stems are topped with dangling pink tassels that steal all the attention anyway.
The bright yellow umbels of dill (Anethum graveolens) are always welcome wherever they appear, as is the nowhere-near-red ‘Red Sea’ ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum)…
…and more-like-scarlet ‘Red Spider’ zinnia (Zinnia tenuifolia).
To finish up, a quick trot around the garden, starting above in the side courtyard. Below is the rest of that path, which leads out to the barn. (That’s Virginia creeper [Parthenocissus quinquefolia] on the arbor.)
Above is the sliver of the front garden that I see from one of my office windows. Below is part of the middle border in the front garden.
Above, at the front corner of the house, is one of my favorite combinations. Some of the key players include Diabolo ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’), an unnamed Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha), ‘Big Ears’ lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina), and ‘Dimity’ Himalayan fleeceflower (Persicaria affinis).
Below, the path leading to the side garden…
…and the view from the opposite direction.
Below, a selection of some late bloomers in the side garden: New England aster, aromatic aster, golden lace, and Tatarian aster.
Above and below, the middle border in the side garden, taken from opposite directions.
Above and below, the other side of the side garden.
Above and below, both sides of the path to the back garden.
And the morning-sun/afternoon-shade border along the back porch, below.
Out in the Cottage Garden, the perennial meadow squares (above) have matured nicely, and even the veggie beds (below) look nice.
There’s plenty to see outside of the fence, too. Above is the Arc Border out by barn; below is the border outside of the front garden.
Above, part of the border just outside the side gate; below, part of The Shrubbery.
And one more: part of Long Border out by the road.
For more proof that gardens can be just as glorious in fall as they are in spring and summer, check out the links posted by other gardeners around the world at Carol’s main Bloom Day post at May Dreams Gardens.
And a final note…folks, I don’t mean to be unfriendly, but please do not copy my photos for use on your own blog or site. You’re welcome to enjoy them here all you wish, and to that end, I pay WordPress a yearly fee to not place ads on this site so you don’t have to deal with those distractions while browsing my posts. And yes, I’m ok with use on Pinterest, though I appreciate you asking first. I’m always happy to supply high-resolution, watermark-free jpg files of the images here for use in print or on other websites for a reasonable fee, but I generally can’t allow free use, even for a name credit or link – at least until utility companies and tax collectors also agree to accept links instead of money as payment. Thanks for understanding!