With so many sad things going on all over, it seems shallow, in a way, to spend time focusing on pretty flowers. Or maybe there’s no better time to appreciate the small joyful things that are happening daily. With that in mind, will you join me on a virtual stroll to celebrate the beauty and bounty of the garden in September?
I rarely have good luck growing hollyhocks (Alcea rosea), due to fungal rust, but sunset hibiscus (Abelmoschus manihot), above, makes a fine substitute. Below, another long-flowering favorite of mine: white-flowered South African foxglove (Ceratotheca triloba ‘Alba’), mingling with the airy seedheads of a seedling switch grass (Panicum virgatum).
Last winter, I noticed that some references have moved Ceratotheca triloba to Sesamum trilobum. Before then, I never realized that the plant is in the sesame family (Pedaliaceae). Just out of curiosity, I decided to try growing regular sesame (Sesamum indicum), below, this year and am looking forward to harvesting the seeds—and using them, too.
Above, the small but brilliant blooms of wild petunia (Petunia integrifolia). Below, a closeup of the flower of the intriguing plant Proboscidea louisianica, known variously as unicorn plant, ram’s horn, or devil’s claw–all references to the large seedpods, which are still developing.
Above, ‘Shiro-gane Nishiki’ kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate (Persicaria orientalis), with cream- to white-variegated foliage and soft pink flowers. Below, variegated Asiatic dayflower (Commelia communis f. aureostriata), which is much smaller in stature but equally vigorous in its own way.
Above, the bright red blooms of noon flower (Pentapetes phoenicea) have just started to open, but the now 5-foot-plus stems are loaded with buds, so I’m looking forward to a glorious show over the next few weeks. It’s been too long since I last had this plant in my garden. Below is tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca), another lovely thing I haven’t thought to grow since my previous garden—why, I don’t know, as its blue foliage makes a great vertical accent and the yellow flowers are a charming bonus.
I forgot that ‘Purple Kisses’ Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota), above, can produce rosy pink seedheads along with the usually-dark flowers. It’s a nice bonus feature. Below, a bud of devil’s trumpet (Datura metel) just before it opens in the evening to reveal a white center and nice fragrance. This strain has near-black stems too. It was supposed to be D. metel var. fastuosa but produces only single flowers instead of the usual double. Still pretty, though.
Below, ‘Mega Punk’ spike celosia (Celosia argentea var. spicata), a 3- to 4-foot strain that developed here at Hayefield years ago.
Above, an old favorite I’m happy to be growing again: ‘Sunspots’ annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus), a strain with yellow-splashed leaves. (It’s different from ‘Sunspot’, which is dwarf and not variegated.) And below, a gorgeously variegated hot pepper (Capsicum annuum) known as ‘Fish’.
Late summer into fall is also a wonderful time for heat-loving climbers, which can take a good while to really get going here.
Two strains of Ipomoea purpurea morning glories—which, to be fair, are usually the quickest to come into bloom: above, ‘Rosa di Venezia’ and below, ‘Sunrise Serenade’.
The Japanese morning glories (Ipomoea nil) can be painfully slow to get going here and often need encouragement to wind their way up a support through the summer. But once they start flowering…just wow. Above is starry ‘Kikyo Snowflakes’, which has handsome, rich green leaves.
Above, a not-quite-open-yet bloom of ‘Blue Speckled’. This is one of several strains of Japanese morning glories I have that also produce variegated leaves, like those below.
Two more with variegated foliage: above, ‘Sazanami’, with huge, watercolored-blue blooms that age to rosy pink, and below, ‘Fuji no Murasaki’, which ages to a magenta-y pink.
Above, the oddly shaped pink flowers, glossy green leaves, and deep red stems of malabar spinach (Basella rubra). Below, the glorious ‘Golden Sunshine’ runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus). I had trouble getting this one going for a few years, for some reason, but I’ve finally found a spot where it is happy—in a container, actually—and it’s even starting to set seeds.
Another vine I was thrilled to have good luck with, finally: a snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina var. anguina). Above is one of the ripe fruits. As the insides mature, they develop into a red goop that slides down into the lower part of the hanging fruit. It’s an icky process, hand-separating the seeds from the blood-colored and tomato paste-scented slime, but not a difficult one. The seeds are particularly pretty when still wet, turning duller when dry.
Moving on to the perennials…yellow is a dominant color theme this time of year.
‘Lemon Queen’ perennial sunflower (Helianthus) is so generous with its flowers, particularly if you move pieces into fresh soil. I’ve noticed some popping up in the meadow, too, even though some sources say it rarely sets seed. Below is sawtooth sunflower (Helianthus grosseserratus), which is also perennial, though it’s flowering the first year from seeds I sowed last winter. Here it’s with annual ‘Torch’ Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia).
Above, elegant ‘Henry Eilers’ sweet coneflower (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) paired with purple Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Purpurea’). Below, golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia) with Deam’s orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii).
And then there are the goldenrods, of course! Above is my favorite, I think: stiff goldenrod (Oligoneuron rigidum). The fuzzy, gray-green leaves are a nice complement to its clear yellow, blooms, and the stiff stems make them easy to place in fresh arrangements. Below is another good one: showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa).
And below, grass-leaved goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia), which grows wild in the meadow.
The silphiums are another sure-fire source of sunny yellows. Above is rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium), part of which got quite tall in the rich soil in one of my holding beds. Below is cutleaf prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum var. pinnatifidum), which dependably gets about 4 feet tall in the garden here.
And one more in the yellows: Corydalis ochotensis, below, just coming into bloom in the last week.
Of course, it’s not all golden; there are plenty of other glorious autumn colors as well.
Above and below, New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis).
Above, the aptly named giant ironweed (Vernonia gigantea), easily reaching 8 feet tall if not cut back in early summer. Below, narrow-leaved ironweed (Vernonia lettermannii) is a more manageable 4 to 5 feet.
This glowing clump of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a standout in the lower meadow. All of the other clumps are working on setting seed, but I accidentally mowed this clump earlier in the summer, so it got a late start. Below is royal catchyfly (Silene regia) in one of my holding beds, in full flower last month and still sending out a few new blooms now.
Below, another resident in the same holding bed: downy skullcap (Scutellaria incana).
There are still a few flowers on the first-year tall larkspur (Delphinium exaltatum) plants out front. One was blue, as is usual, but most of the seedlings were the unusual color below, appearing palest blue, soft pink, near-white, or even grayish, depending on the light.
Above, yet another native—American dittany (Cunila oreganoides), also known as stone mint—with abundant pink flowers over aromatic leaves. That flower and leaf description applies equally well to the plant below, which I’m pretty sure is lesser calamint (Clinopodium nepeta). It showed up on its own last year in a shrub border where I didn’t intend to have any perennials, but it was in a perfect spot so it got to stay.
Above, one more late-season pink, but this time from a bulb: Japanese jacinth (Barnardia japonica). And below, a lovely soft yellow: Patrinia punctiflora.
Above, just one of many grasses coming into peak now: Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha). Below, round-headed bush clover (Lespedeza capitata).
Above, the nodding tails of white Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Alba’). Below, a white form of great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica). It first appeared in my meadow last year, and the seeds I collected from it came about 70% true (the remaining few being the usual blue).
Below, one more bright white: Leucanthemella serotina.
And now, some wider combination and garden shots, just because things look so lovely right now.
Above, Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’) with dwarf knotweed (Persicaria affinis) and ‘Fire Island’ hosta (Hosta).
Below, Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha), Diabolo ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’), purple Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Purpurea’), New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis), ‘Solar Cascade’ Short’s goldenrod (Solidago shortii), ‘Sun Power’ hosta (Hosta), and Deam’s orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii).
Below, yet again, is Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha), this time with some seedlings of summer phlox (Phlox paniculata), Deam’s orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii), and golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia).
Above and below, wild things in the upper and lower meadows.
Above, the Arc Borders; below, a path on the north-ish side of the house.
Above, a path through the borders in the front garden, and below, a path leading down to the Seed Garden (yes, there’s actually a path there).
Ok, well, I feel a bit more peaceful after all that. I hope you enjoyed it too!
One last thing: a reminder that I will be doing my January seed giveaway through my seed newsletter, rather than posting it here on the blog. If you’re interested in getting the list, you can easily subscribe for free to the newsletter at the bottom of this page. This year, I’m considering adding an extra feature: seeds from other Hayefield readers along with those from my own garden. I don’t have all the details ironed out yet, but if you enjoy collecting seeds and would like to share a few of your favorites with other seed-appreciating gardeners, please feel free to get in touch with me (firstname.lastname@example.org).