End of summer

Catching up after a hectic two-plus months.

The black-eyed Susans, which dominate the front bed, have been in bloom since mid-July. They’re now rapidly fading, but they kept the garden looking bright. How many can I give to neighbors?

Mass of black-eyed Susans

Phlox, purple coneflowers and black-eyed Susans. Lot of phlox and coneflowers this year:

Phlox and purple coneflower with black-eyed Susans

Ornamental grass and black-eyed Susans (told you they were everywhere):

Ornamental grass with black-eyed Susans

Daddy long legs on a black-eyed Susan:

Daddy long legs and black-eyed Susan

Spider’s web (with foliage from black-eyed Susans in the background):

spider's web

A fall-blooming clematis with a sweet scent, along the deck:

white clematis

in July, one of our three varieties of bee balm:

bee balm

Crocosmia under the mimosa tree:

red crocosmia

The potato crop, which we felt was disappointing. Did we not mound enough? Or do we need to find a fresh spot?


We have a glut of peppers, mostly Portuguese hots, and have had plenty of tomatoes, especially sungolds. But we also discovered some truly sweet tomatoes that look just like sungolds. Now to find out the name of them from the Brit’s colleague!

Leeks still to come. Need to use up all that basil and turn it into pesto. We still have greens, though something gets into the caged bed every once in a while and munches. And we’ll see how the fall crops turn out.


From Purple to Hot Pink

The garden has moved from mostly yellow (daffodils) to purple (Siberian irises, a few alliums and the beginning of walkers low) to just about every color imaginable. The red hot pokers are starting to fade, rose campion is everywhere and I don’t know if the clematis has ever looked this full.

Here’s how it looks:

Snow in October

snow-covered zinniasIt’s falling fat flakes as I look out the window, sticking to ground wet from the rain earlier this morning and covering the last of our hot pink zinnias.

Quite depressing.

This is when we are supposed to have our first frost (and there was frost on the windshield yesterday, though not enough to kill the last flowers). But snow this early? I have visions of a Laura Ingalls Wilder-style Long Winter.

I was braced for it and spent several hours yesterday cleaning out the vegetable garden, digging out the last of the Yukon Gold potatoes, picking the tiny but hot peppers from our pyramid peppers, cutting the overgrown mustard greens and harvesting the chard. But seeing it is quite something else.

I also took a few shots of our final blooms. The pineapple sage was a late blast of color but nowhere as exuberant as the only other time we grew this annual. There were still some dianthus, and of course the zinnias.

sweet william flowers

And a few photos from September:

clematis spilling over the deck


What’s Still Blooming

We’ve had so little rain and plenty of hot weather, so the garden is definitely fading (the grass has been dormant for a while — we’ve barely had to mow).

So it’s nice that this clematis we bought at the master gardeners’ plant sale last year is blooming for the first time, and so abundantly. Lovely scent too! Reminds me of a heavy honeysuckle smell. I’m glad it is spilling over the deck rail.

I also like this deep-purple nicotiana and hope it self-seeds for next year.

The black-eyed Susans, which bloomed profusely in August, even if they seemed shorter or smaller than in years past, are fading. The boltonia is out, though it also seems small. And the Alma Potschke asters that I divided in the spring seem fairly happy. The flowers are small, but the plants don’t require staking this year and the hot pink color pops amid the yellow.

The front walk, late August

Blanket flower keeps coming back, and those morning glories have happily self-seeded, adding more color. The clumps of sedum  have expanded and are turning red.

Even so, we don’t have the lushness of June. I can blame the lack of rain for only some of that.

What’s in bloom

Surprisingly for late October, a lot. Or bits of a lot. Here are just some.

Zinnias are still going strong, though we had frost on the car windshields last weekend

Love this zinnia!
Love this zinnia!

Cosmos are out. We have two types: pale purple and magenta purple. I prefer bold.

I'll take the magenta cosmos.
I'll take the magenta cosmos.

One surprise is that the white clematis is blooming again — and not being touched (so far) by the deer. There are five or six flowers now.

Clematis in October
Clematis in October

Morning glories are out too

Just one of many morning glories out this afternoon
Just one of many morning glories out this afternoon

This one is like the Eveready Bunny — it just keeps on going. It reaffirms our call that Blanket Flower is an All-Star.

Blanket flower is still going! And attracting bees
Blanket flower is still going! And attracting bees

This coreopsis has a similar look

I'd like a big clump of these coreopsis!
I'd like a big clump of these coreopsis!

This was a hardy mum that came back (or maybe one of our Lowe’s 25-cent clearance purchases that paid off?) The clump is pretty big and I’m happy to share.

This mum is hardy!
This mum is hardy!

Our all-stars

Time to take stock of what has worked this year — or not. Here are some favorites:
Cardinal lobelia. Love the red, love the long blooms, love how it stands out. Need to get more.
Sneezeweed (Helenium). We have red/yellow/orange blooms that pick up so many other colors in the garden. It bloomed a long time too. Only quibble is we don’t have enough to make it stand out. Hopefully it will need dividing soon. In the meantime, it’s on next year’s list for the Master Gardeners plant sale.
Red-hot poker.

Red-hot pokers and the rest of the garden in June
Red-hot pokers and the rest of the garden in June

The blooms (more red/orange/yellow) only last for a couple of weeks, but the effect was spectacular. These seem to need frequent dividing, in case someone wants to put a hand up.
Blanket flower. I was ready to give up on them last year, but this year they have done fantastically. More long blooms (or new blooms), red and yellow, so eye-catching too. it apparently is easily established from seed, which is good since I recently found a packet.
Black-eyed Susans. Our drift of them is gorgeous, just needs to be repeated at the other end of the front bed. Maybe we should try the ones that have some red/burgundy in them.

Nicotinia, with sneezeweed behind
Nicotiana, with sneezeweed behind

For the same amount of effort of growing from seed, flowering tobacco has outdone zinnias (which admittedly now look really good, aided I presume by that spurt of hot weather.) Would like some that are deeply scented next time. I may have finally learned to spell this properly.
Rose campion. These magenta flowers are among my favorites in June. Can’t get enough of them.


All mixed up!
All mixed up!

We have so many, and the varieties are fairly well mixed. The front bed is full of them in April. What more could you want as you come out of winter?
Coleus. This annual was slow to start (and did best in pots), but adds some nice zing now. Hoping to overwinter some so we get a jump on 2010.
Yucca. I wasn’t a fan when we were given a bunch a few years back, but they’ve really grown on me. Love the strong leaves and how it looks in winter. And was surprised at how they bloomed this year.

— what the deer discovered: asters and clematis. Too heavily munched. The light blue asters that covered the porch railing last year barely make it to the bottom of the porch.
David phlox didn’t do much this year.

No more perennials!

At least until fall, when the front beds will expand again.
It’s only early May and the flower beds look packed. We struggled to find spots big enough for the seven perennials we bought at our local Master Gardeners’ plant sale last Saturday. This one grows to three feet wide? Lucky to get 18 inches. Yes, I confess we bought without knowing exactly where they would go (aside from plant No. 8, a clematis that went in within hours, and two herbs), but we thought this was quite an improvement from the 19 plants we remember buying last year. Plus, some rate as all-stars in Jeff Cox’s “Perennials All-Stars,” a great tip of a book from a friend. (An example: Moerheim Beauty Helenium, also known as sneezeweed, in the great fall colors of red, orange and gold. I am thinking of it as a perennial mum.) No Jack-in-the-pulpit, unfortunately.
Annuals get squeezed in tomorrow, and then I suspect there will barely be a spare inch. All of this makes us wonder what the beds will look like come June. (Or when we try to add the annuals that are still being babied under the lights in the basement. Or are still in seed packets, like the wave petunia. Are we nuts?) That deep-red Niobe clematis I wanted to look for will definitely have to wait until next year.
All in all, though, we’re quite impressed with beds that began with tiny (but great-quality) plants from Bluestone Perennials and some contributions from a sister in 2006 and just keep growing. Plus, packed beds mean less space for weeds and therefore less weeding.
Also tomorrow — more tomatoes go in. Yay!! Some look ‘strapping,’ according to the Brit.
First harvest of the garden lettuce — yum.