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Posts Tagged ‘fall garden’

october12

Sometimes, in the middle of summer, when heat and drought have reduced the grass to a yellowed crisp, I think about replacing the main garden pathway with something more durable. But by this time of year, the grass is gorgeous, an emerald ribbon inviting you for a stroll in the garden.

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Most of the perennials are done for the year, but the garden is still pleasant on a sunny day, and there is still lots to see.

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I usually plant a few annuals and they are stalwarts that help to carry the garden into winter. Above are colourful cosmos, below, zinnias.

october11

The larch trees that form an arching tunnel will shed their needles soon, but for the moment, the tunnel is still green and inviting. It’s watched over by the garden gnome who stands to one side in a clump of hostas.

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Visitors usually refer to him as the Travelocity gnome, but I think of him as Gnome Chomsky.

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The berries on this native holly, Winterberry ‘Winter Red’ ( Ilex verticillata), brighten a shady corner and offer a bounty for birds.

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This White Angel crabapple tree (Malus ‘White Angel’), is covered in beautiful white flowers in spring, and brilliant red apples in autumn.

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Geranium ‘Rozanne’ is easily the most floriferous geranium in the garden, still blooming in October.

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Coreopsis ‘Cosmic Eye’ has been a wonderful performer too. It is one of Darrell Probst’s Big Bang introductions.

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The tall stems of autumn monkshood (Aconitum carmichaelii ‘Barker’s Variety’) are all topped with beautiful blue flowers now. This monkshood is often still blooming when the first snow flies.

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Now that the Tiger Eye Sumacs have dropped their leaves, the red begonias that were overshadowed for the last months of summer have the stage to themselves and look brilliant with red bloodgrass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’).

As ever, Joe Crow continues to watch over his patch of the garden.

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Daylilies work well for me because I start to lose interest in the garden later in the season. I love that glorious burst of growth in the spring, the dazzling flowers of summer. By the end of August, I’m ready to move on to other activities.

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I’m content to stroll about the garden and not lift a finger on its behalf. I never trim back my plants until spring. Many of them provide winter interest, with interesting seed pods or twisty stems.

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I can further justify my autumnal laziness with the fact that the seeds and leaf litter the garden offers will feed and protect a host of insects and birds over the freezing months ahead.

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There are still a few flowers to be seen, such as a late-blooming head of masterwort (Astrantia major ‘Sunningdale Variegated‘), above.

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And here is a bouquet of Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) tucked in amongst the lowest branches of the corkscrew hazel.

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The chocolate Joe Pye (Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’) is just wrapping up its blooming season for the year.

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A few heads of phlox are contributing a bit of colour. This is Phlox paniculata ‘Sherbet Cocktail’.

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The last, the very last flower to bloom in my garden every year is this monkshood (Aconitum carmichaelii ‘Barker’s Variety’). The flowers are set off nicely by the new green coat that the house received this summer.

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The bright berries of the aptly named American Winterberry (Ilex verticillata ) brighten a shady corner and make a contribution to the garden’s offerings for wildlife.

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The grasses are the mainstay of the fall garden. This little cutie is Piglet Fountain Grass (Pennisetum Alopecuroides ‘Piglet’).

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The plumes of this unnamed miscanthus species look fabulous when backlit by the sun. This is one of the tallest grasses in the garden, but two others surpass it. Both are new this year, and are only just opening their plumed heads now. Hopefully, next year they will fill out more and reach maturity a bit earlier in the season. You can make out Giant Maidengrass (Miscanthus gigantus) in the photo below, standing to the left of the sunlit plumes. Behind it is the tallest of the three, the native Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii).

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cleome

For garden colour that spans the seasons from spring to fall, you can’t beat annuals. If you purchase pre-started plantlets, they are often blooming when you plant them and continue unabated until frost ends their year. Cleome, cosmos, and portulaca are all still going strong in my garden. It is the nature of perennials to have a shorter bloom season. Unlike annuals, which have one glorious summer to fulfill their mandate, perennials have several years, sometimes many years, and must direct some of their energy to preparing for the winter ahead.

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Nevertheless, the two species of coreopsis represented in my garden came very close to matching the performance of annuals. The winner of this year’s “All Summer Long” bloom award goes to Coreopsis grandiflora “Mayfield Giant”, which put on a marvellous show. Its brilliant golden-yellow flowers have lit up the border all summer and are still blooming as we head into October.

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The runner-up prize goes to the closely related Coreopsis verticillata “Moonbeam”. This little sweetheart, with its narrow leaves, has an airy presence and makes an excellent filler plant between larger perennials. Its prolific pale-yellow blooms compliment just about any other plant it is partnered with.

echinaceagreenenvy

While some of the echinaceas, or coneflowers, have been content with a modest bloom season, some species have out-bloomed both their cousins and my expectations. One of the best has been Echinacea “Green Jewel”. Its interesting green-hued flowers are still going strong.

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The roses that I planted midseason have settled in well. I didn’t deadhead them, with the hope of encouraging them to stop blooming and concentrate on rooting. Rosa Radcor ‘Knock Out Rainbow’ wasn’t to be dissuaded, however, and is still blooming nicely.

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The butterfly bush, Buddleia hybrid “Honeycomb” hasn’t been too impressive. It struggles in this hardiness zone. Still, I have to give it credit for persistence. It is still blooming and feeding the bees.

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In the spring, I planted some very small seedlings of two varieties of agastache (ag-ah-STAK-ee as per Fine Gardening magazine). I was worried that after a long summer of struggling, they wouldn’t survive the winter. However, both have come along in the last few weeks of summer, even putting out some flower stalks, so maybe they’ll make it to next year and come back stronger. Shown above is Agastache barberi ‘Tutti Frutti’ and below is Agastache aurantiaca “Coronado Red”, not really red at all, but a soft orange.

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I’ll close with this little sweetheart, Dianthus “Raspberry Swirl”. Like the agastache, it has spent the summer getting settled and is just now putting out a few flowers, way behind its normal blooming time. Worth the wait, though, don’t you think?

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