Though we had a very light frost about 2 weeks ago, only the beans and sweet potato vines got nipped, so there’s still plenty to see. As I did last month, I’ve tried to limit myself to showing only what’s new this month.
There’s an abundance of asters, of course, so I’ve picked out just two that are looking good this week: ‘Hella Lacy’ New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), above…
…and Tartarian aster (Aster tataricus), which was loaded with monarchs yesterday despite the stiff breezes.
Azure monkshood (Aconitum carmichaelii) is another lovely addition to the flowers this time of year, as is ‘Sheffield Pink’ chrysanthemum, which just started opening a few days ago.
Taurus mountain fleeceflower (Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Blotau’) started flowering months ago, but it took a bit of a break during our very dry September. Now that we’re getting a bit of rain, it’s putting on another great show. The much larger ‘Crimson Beauty’, below, didn’t start opening its flowers until September. The lower third have just started to turn from white to pink; the rest are headed to red.
Most of the burnets (Sanguisorba) are done blooming, but the clumps of purple Japanese burnet (S. tenuifolia ‘Purpurea’, below) that I cut back to about 1 foot in late June are just peaking now.
Granted, seven sons flower (Heptacodium miconioides) technically isn’t flowering now, but the pink calyces do look like blooms.
The chances of Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) flowering before frost here are about even. This year, we got lucky, reminding me that it’s worth the gamble.
I know I’ve showed you the ‘Elephant Head’ amaranth before, but I couldn’t resist including it again. For some reason, the spikes mostly stayed upright this year, not developing the appropriate “elephant’s head and trunk” appearance. At least the ones above had the usual tall, straight-stemmed habit. The seedling below popped up in the gravel along the driveway: it’s barely 3 feet tall but, as you can see, it is heavily branched. “It adds a certain…er…welcoming touch for visitors,” Mom remarked.
Let’s move on to something a little more elegant: the bulbs of the season.
Ahhh, the colchicums. I started with the one below from my old garden. As far as I know, it’s the common autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale). The clump below is growing along the driveway, coming up through the foliage on the edge of an orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) clump.
Having them come up through leafy partners helps them stay upright and clean, so I’ve experimented with other companions as well. Below is ‘Big Ears’ lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) with another as-far-as-I-know-Colchicum autumnale. I’ve had varying success using ‘Big Ears’ this way. Sometimes it gets too vigorous and its leaves almost smother the blooms. Usually, though, I end up cutting it to the ground in midsummer to get fresh new leaves for late summer and fall, and that seems to keep it in better proportion to the colchicum flowers.
Above is ‘Rosy Dawn’ coming up through creeping bramble (Rubus pentalobus…also known as R. calycinoides, R. rolfei, and now, apparently, as R. hayata-koidzumii). Below is ‘Violet Queen’ with Chocolate Chip ajuga (Ajuga reptans ‘Valfredda’). I’m not crazy about the color of the ajuga with the colchicum, but they’re so happy together that I hate the idea of disturbing the bulbs to move them.
A few months ago, I got a wonderful surprise in the mail: a box packed with a variety of colchicums from fellow blogger and colchicum devotee Kathy Purdy of Cold Climate Gardening, giving me the opportunity to try out a few new pairings.
Above is ‘Nancy Lindsay’ with the variegated foliage of ‘Triple Play’ smooth phlox (Phlox glaberrima). Below is probably ‘Zephyr’ with ‘Voodoo’ two-row stonecrop (Sedum spurium): like the ajuga, not a great color match, but then, who’s really looking at the ground cover, anyway?
Below, the absolutely exquisite double white autumn crocus (C. autumnale ‘Alboplenum’) coming up through woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus).
Lilies generally aren’t flowers of fall, but these are a special case. Last fall, reader Debra B. sent me a generous amount of Formosa lily (Lilium formosanum) seeds (thank you, Debra!). I sowed them in a 4-inch pot on March 8 on a heat mat and under lights and the first leaves appeared on March 17. In mid-April, I transplanted 50 of them into a plug tray, then planted them out in the Happy Garden in June. After that, I forgot about them, except when I had to remind myself not to pull out the grass-like seedlings when I was weeding. Imagine my surprise when a few of them started to bloom this fall, at about 1 foot tall. I knew they had a reputation of being quick from seed, but I thought they’d flower next year, not the same year as sowing. Overall, six of the 50 have opened. It’s such a delight when plants do surprising things.
Well, back to our regularly scheduled seasonal event: the arrival of autumn colors. A few plants have both flowers and colorful foliage at the moment. Below is a clump of golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia) that I’d cut back to about 1 foot in early August, so it’s blooming now at about 4 feet tall with fall-red leaves.
‘Kumson’ greenstem forsythia (Forsythia viridissima var. koreana) mostly blooms at the normal time in spring, but I’ve seen open flowers on it pretty much any time from October onward. The most distinctive feature of ‘Kumson’ is its white-netted green leaves. The markings are most noticeable on the new growth. The older leaves are basically green, and they turn the gold and red colors shown above. There are usually some variegated bits still around at this time of year, though, and they take on a pinkish blush.
For fall-color-plus-berries, there’s ‘Issai’ purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma)…
…red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), below…
…and ‘Winter Red’ winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata), below.
And finally, a quick spin through some standouts for autumn foliage color, starting with sassafras (Sassafras albidum).
Above, is ‘Washington Park’ vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis). Below is ‘Orange Encore’ (H. x intermedia). It’s not very interesting in bloom but the fall color has been dependably rich.
Above is one of my pawpaws (Asimina triloba), finally taller than I am. Below is an unnamed doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum) in the lower meadow.
And, a bunch of native shrubs: above, buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), below, ‘Henry’s Garnet’ Virginia sweet spire (Itea virginica)…
…above, ‘Ruby Spice’ summersweet (Clethra alnifolia); below, shining or winged sumac (Rhus copallinum).
‘Tor’ birchleaf spirea (Spiraea betulifolia) is dependable for brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows. Southern bush honeysuckle (Diervilla sessilifolia) has the same color range, but the hues are a bit more muted.
The birds are continually planting more Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) along the fence. I pull out most of it, but at this time of year, I’m happy to still have some.
A few standout perennials in this category include shredded umbrella plant (Syneilesis aconitifolia), above, and balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus), below.
Above, Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum); below, dwarf fleeceflower (Persicaria affinis) in front of ‘Big Ears’ lamb’s ears.
And, of course, the bluestars (Amsonia). Below is hybrid ‘Blue Ice’.
Above, stiff bluestar (A. ridiga), and below, Arkansas bluestar (A. hubrichtii).
Technically, these two aren’t in fall color, but it’s fall, and they have great foliage, so here they are. Neither one is hardy, so I’ll have to dig them and drag them down to the basement soon. The cordyline isn’t bad to work with, but I’m really not looking forward to wrestling with the giant sea holly: its leaves are really pointy and have sharp, jagged edges as well.
The foliage of silver spurflower (Plectranthus argentatus) is very much the opposite: so soft that it made a nice sofa for this lounging praying mantis. Can’t be praying all the time, I guess.
I’m saving the garden and combination shots for another time, so for now, that’s it from Hayefield. For a virtual tour of other October gardens, click over to Carol’s main Bloom Day post at May Dreams Gardens. Thanks for visiting!