Friday, September 16, 2011

Autumn Approaches: Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, September, 2011

Autumn came early, first in the form of our preparations for Hurricane Irene and then with the arrival of the monarchs and dragonflies as they make their way south for winter. And living in New England, we can look forward to vividly colored foliage as the number and variety of flowers in bloom dwindles with the changing seasons.     

With the days getting shorter and cooler, we are harvesting the last of the summer herbs, squash, eggplant, and cucumbers. But autumn is also here in the form of ripening grapes, apples, and dogwood fruit.

The apple tree is an unknown variety that has been growing next to the house for decades. This is the first year that we've had an adequate amount of summer rain for the tree to produce apples that are large enough to cook with.
The dogwood fruits are ripening and I've been experimenting with them in different recipes. The fruit is creamy, the seeds are easily removed, and the flavor is mild, sweet, almost reminiscent of mango.
We had some early grapes a couple of weeks ago but the birds made quick work of them. We are eagerly awaiting these to ripen to a deep purple.

The stars of the late summer garden are the Sweet Autumn clematis, Autumn Joy sedum, tall phlox and evening primrose, and Japanese anemones.

Sweet Autumn is fragrant, late blooming clematis. It forms a delicate backdrop for the Rose of Sharon. In front, basil (blooming white in the left front) and spikes of sage add dimension to this corner of the herb garden.

Sedum Brilliant is a cooler pink than Autumn Joy and they clashed so much, I moved Autumn Joy to a different bed. . As the dogwood tree has grown and created more shade, the color of the blooms of Brilliant have gotten somewhat subdued. Growing on the berm among the boulders behind the pond, it remains a gorgeous pop of color just the same.
Sedum Autumn Joy and Frikart's Asters give a pop of fall color on the rose island. The asters are the same color as the catmint blossoms and the sedum is the same color as the columbine that blooms earlier in the summer, keeping the color palette consistent from season to season.
The low growing burgundy chrysanthemums contrast perfectly with the pearlescent pale pink anemones.
Planted en masse, the anemones float delicate blossoms across the front of the perennial bed where peonies held court in the spring.

The purple cranesbill continues to make a statement. Midsummer, when the plants became leggy and spindly, we trimmed them back by more than half.  They responded with enthusiastic growth and a cap of shiny dark green foliage is covered with rich purple blossoms that contrast perfectly with the anemones and evening primrose.

We had not planned to prune the cranesbill back so hard, but in retrospect, it was the best thing we could have done.
Yellow evening primrose and purple cranesbill.

Our roses are still blooming with enthusiasm - we're hoping to be able to bring some award winning blooms to the rose show this weekend. We stopped deadheading the rugosas and the resulting rose hips are as colorful as the flowers.

Top Row:  Pretty Lady, John F. Kennedy, Sea Foam; Middle Row: Mother of Pearl, Lady Elsie May, Grandma's Blessing; Bottom Row:  Blushing Knock-Out, Rose hip of R. rugosa "Rubra"
The second bloom of the Munstead lavender, which forms the hedges around all of the formal beds, came early and lush. We usually see a sparse second bloom in early September, but this summer, the re-bloom began in mid August and has produced nearly as much lavender as the spring bloom.

The Rose of Sharon shrubs have been blooming since mid August and remain covered with blossoms and buds. The coneflowers, hardy hibiscus and balloon flowers are winding down, but still manage to hold their own in terms of late summer color. 

Many of the coneflower blossoms are travel weary, but they still brighten the perennial beds.
This ruby throated white Rose of  Sharon has been blooming for weeks and has never been so heavily festooned with blossoms.
This double rose blooms of this Rose of Sharon have deep burgundy throats.
This rudbeckia and another that is planted in the same bed were both mislabeled as white coneflowers. I had thought the white blossoms would  work well with the deep pink hardy hibiscus as well as the astilbe that grows in front of the pagoda.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well the rudbeckia has complemented the hardy mallows and veronica that also grows nearby.
Balloon flowers, phlox, and the occasional coneflower in the right perennial bed.
The magenta of these white and magenta tall phlox is echoed in the spirea.
The lavender phlox are sweetly fragrant. This year, all of the phlox have produced thick masses of flowers on reasonably strong stems that withstood the winds and rain of the hurricane.
The caryopteris and hydrangeas are also doing their part to provide late summer color while indoors, bowls of cosmos and zinnias from the deck garden bring the gardens into every room.

The blue mist shrub "Snow Fairy",  Caryopteris dvaricata, has variegated foliage that makes a striking contrast to the dark glossy green peonies, the dark red blooms of Betty Prior, and the burgundy barberries it is planted with.
The gracefully curved stamens give the delicate amethyst blossoms remind me of  butterflies.
The blossoms of the Pee Gee hydrangea open white and then gradually take on a pinkish green and then pink hue.
The blooms eventually become a peachy bronze and will hold this color when dried for wreaths or dried arrangements.
A benefit of buying large shrubs and trees late in the season is that they are often heavily discounted. A drawback is that quite often, their tags have been lost and it's impossible to determine the cultivar. Such was the case of this hydrangea tree which we acquired last summer at a bargain basement price.  This unnamed hydrangea which helps shade the deck,  is covered with blooms that, like the Pee Gee, open white and then gradually turn a deep peachy bronze. The individual blooms are much larger than those of the Pee Gee.

The kitchen garden on the deck provide herbs, vegetables, and plenty of blooms for cutting. The hollyhock roots have grown into sturdy plants that will hopefully bloom against the rails next summer.

The water garden is also showing its fall colors in the form of cat tails and water mint, which attracts bees and dragonflies.

Unexpected re-bloomers, chief among them, the spirea and the hostas, continue to surprise and delight. We've never seen the hostas re-bloom.

This week, the hostas in the blueberry garden and secret garden are all blooming for the second time this summer. These had bloomed in July (see the July GBBD photos here) and we trimmed the flower spikes back, which we usually do. We were amazed to see them send up new scapes over the past two weeks.

Along the border of the blueberry garden angled under a tall pine, these hostas bloomed in July and are blooming again now.
This is the large fragrant hosta that anchors the "secret garden".  It's also blooming for the second time this summer.
Usually when plants re-bloom unexpectedly, the flowers are sparse. Not so with the hostas.

The spirea is also blooming again, and I can't even credit pruning for this. In the photo below, you can see the dried flower heads from the earlier bloom.  I decided to leave them to provide some textural interest over the fall and winter.

I don't have mich experience with spirea but we planted this shrub last spring. We had pulled out the Asiatic lilies from this corner of the perennial bed because the red lily leaf beetles were almost impossible to control. We chose this spirea for its color and to provide some height and contrast for the penstemon and tall phlox.that also grow in this part of the bed.

From a small shrub in a gallon pot, it has grown four feet wide and more than three feet high, and has proven to be the perfect choice for this corner. Since planting it, I have learned that like buddleia, heavily pruning it back in the spring should result in thicker growth and more prolific blooms (hard to imagine after the way it was covered in blooms earlier in the season).

Pruning again after the spring bloom gives a second generous bloom this time of year, although we didn't prune and are still enjoying late summer color. We'll definitely prune it back in the spring, and perhaps split the clump and transplant some of the stems to the other side of the bed as well.

One of my "weed" books lists malvas including this Zebrina (Malva sylvestris) as potentially invasive weeds. Yes, they do self sow liberally, but I've also had great luck getting them to grow in large clumps where I want them. They resemble their cousins, the hollyhocks and their height adds color in the late summer to the back borders in the perennial and cottage gardens. 

The boughs of our pine trees are weighed down with pine cones. The beauty of the telephoto lens is the ability to see the green seed pods in exquisite detail.

Young, still green pine cones of the Douglas Fir.

Young, still green pine cones of the Norway Spruce
We recently reviewed the book Weeds of the Northeast by Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal, and Joseph M. DiTomaso (you can see the post here) and I remarked then that " woman's wildflower is another woman's weed."  While all of the plants shown here were identified (as weeds) with the help of this wonderful book, we enjoy them in selected areas of the garden.

The dark green leaves of the Virginia Creeper camouflage an otherwise unattractive length of chain link fence and the berries, which turn dark purple this time of year,  attract many birds to the yard.

This sprawling vine is the blue Asiatic dayflower, Commelina communis. have the most vivid blue flowers of any "blue" flowering annual or perennial I've seen. It meandered in from the conservation area and grows along the fence behind the grape arbor, underneath the Virginia creeper.  We have found it in the front yard as well, where it has spread from an area of underbrush that separates our property from our neighbor's.   So far, it hasn't become invasive or a pest, and especially in the back, has confined itself to one area where it surprises us with a brilliant pop of blue whenever we are checking on the grapes or the eggplant that grows under the arbor.

Thistles have become a real thorn in my side, pun intended. They quickly develop heavy duty tap roots and spread quickly through our beds and the grass. We have a spade shovel that effectively removes them, but staying ahead of them is hard when they are growing so freely in the adjacent field.

Both wild morning glories and wild buckwheat are members of the bindweed family and we have both growing here and there in our beds. The buckwheat is more a problem in the perennial beds and we do try to stay on top of it. But the climbing bindweed is a lovely addition to the fence and relatively easy to keep in check. When we see it wandering into the beds near the fence, we trim it back, but I do enjoy watching it cover the fence and bloom with flowers that are so luck cultivated morning glories.
I hope you've enjoyed spending some time in the garden today. Do drop by and visit May Dream Gardens for links to other bloggers posting what's blooming for the monthly Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.


  1. Everything is lovely Cathy. I know it's hard to look now and realize soon it will all be gone. I'm already doing some fall cleanup here of the things that are finished. We are cold here so I expect to finish everything up within a couple weeks other than the Mums.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. Cher, we are doing much of the same, although I am thinking ahead to winter and leaving some dried flower heads (something I learned from Nan Ondra in her book "Fallscaping"). But others, like the hemerocallis, I am pulling away the leaves that are dried and ready to be shed and cutting off dried stalks that really don't add anything to the look of the garden.

    My husband loves autumn and in New England, it is certainly breathtaking. But for me it's just a reminder that winter is coming soon - my least favorite season. The temperature is great for gardening, but putting the garden to bed for the winter is my least favorite gardening chore!

  3. I look forward to seeing your GBBD post every month. The ruby throated white rose of Sharon is my favorite. All the white in the garden is a great contrast to your other plants.

  4. The Blue Mist shrub looks interesting...Love your close up photo! My Spirea reblooms every year and I don't usually prune it back. It has been a great shrub here!

  5. GSNM, that one is my favorite as well... in fact, we have it as a double and I prefer the single. ;) We do like white blossoms and in fact, one of our beds is an all white shade garden.

    NHG, I'd be happy to root a piece for you of the blue mist. As for the spirea, I hope I have as much luck with it as you do. We planted it last year so this is the first year it's had a chance to really go through it's entire growth cycle. I do plan to cut it back in spring and also to move a piece to the other side of the bed. (I'm getting daring LOL.)

  6. Wow, what a show you still have in your garden, I love them all especially the Aster frikartii Mönch which was a perennial which we had years ago, must get it again. Thanks for taking a look at my unknown plant, I think I will add a close up of the leaves.

  7. You have a beautiful garden full of variety. The photos are wonderful and my favorite is the Monarch. It shows a healthy garden.

  8. You still have so many blooms in your garden it is hard to believe that fall has arrived already. I loved the anemones, the roses )of course), and those elegant amethyst blooms.

  9. You have some really pretty blooms. That picture of the Spruce pine cones is beautiful - it so reminds me of winter! I hope you do well at the rose show. I love hips on the roses in winter, too. I've often thought of planting the seeds, just to see if anything would come up, but never have. I hope that dayflower is not the same as the one here. If it is, it will soon be all over your garden! Although, I do admit the blue flowers are pretty.

  10. Alistair, I would wager a cutting of mine that yours is the same. The bloom is identical. I'm anxious to see the leaves of yours. I'll try to email some close-ups of mine to you. ;)

    Thanks for stopping by, iheartbees. You're right, if the frogs are a sign of a healthy pond, the butterflies and bees are a sign of a healthy garden.... and we pride ourselves on using the natural approach here!

    Masha and Holley, our roses looked gorgeous but at the last minute, we had a major conflict arise this AM and were unable to go to the rose show (which was a considerable distance away). I'm so disappointed, but I cut the blooms anyway and brought them in so I could enjoy them!

    Holley, we are experimenting with growing rose seeds for the first time, from a chinensis. It's really hard to know exactly when to harvest the hips but I will be learning more about that next month and will share what I learn.

  11. You have a lot of wonderful blooms there. I love most especially that Rose of Sharon and that with pink flowers near a rock, beautiful. Are those rocks already in the property or brought there as part of your landscape?

  12. Thanks for visiting, Andrea.

    I think you are referring to the sedum that is at the edge of the woodland garden on the berm behind the pond.

    All of those rocks (boulders, the largest weighs 3 tons) were purchased at a stone quarry in Maine and brought down here on a flatbed truck and moved into place with heavy machinery. It was quite the production. We hired a landscaper to do the moving and excavating but we determined the layout of the rocks, especially on the waterfall.

  13. Cathy and Steve, Many lovely blooms. I especially like the anemones. I had them planted en mass in my Virginia garden when I lived there and they were beautiful. I know what you mean about winter, my least favorite season.

  14. Your garden looks gorgeous! I've never the tried the fruit of a dogwood tree. Interesting that they taste like mangos. That sounds delicious!

  15. You have so many pretty images of blooms, but may favorite is the Norway Spruce. It looks like it is right out of a magazine.

  16. Thanks, L. Ambler... we can commiserate come February! Bumble Lush, I don't know if they all taste like ours, but both of ours (different varieties) taste pretty much the same.

    I am going to post about harvesting, preparing and eating them. Between the birds and the dogs, competition was stiff, but I think I have enough to make a few recipes. I hope to try dogwood ice cream and cupcakes.

    Green Apples... we love that tree. We lost two of them during severe Nor'Easters in 2009 and we were pretty upset. The problem with pines is that their roots are narrow and the wood is soft. Add 8 inches of water, 90 mph winds, and the healthiest tree topples. I'm so glad we still have this one!

  17. Your late summer garden is lovely. I especially like your pine cones and your fruits. Fruits are new to my garden, and I look forward to having more as the years go by. Happy GBBD!

  18. you still have a lot of very beautiful things blooming. I am deeply envious of that huge clump of Japanese anemones. Mine have been in the groud for about 3 years and are only just beginning to bulk up, its too hot for them really, All your flowers look so fresh too, lovely.

  19. Thanks, Christina. Our anemones are in broiling hot sun and they seem to thrive there. I wish you luck... it did take a few years for them to get established. Now they have gotten out of hand and I am digging them and giving them away right and left!

  20. Hi Cathy and Steve,
    Your late sumer garden is amazing, still so vibrant!! All your photos are beautfil , but I love that Monarch!! and the Pretty Lady Rose is just that, I am adding her to my list of wish I hads :-)

  21. Hey guys,
    What a bevy of blooms you have right now. So much to fathom, I don't know where to begin. Never heard of eating dogwood berries. How do get 'em before t6he birds?
    The Snow Fairy caryopteris sounds very intriguing7 Would love to see in person.

  22. Hi! I want you to know that I am still laughing at your caption. Your imagination amazes me.

  23. We have so many of the same plants. I really love your Hosta... beautiful! It's nice to still have so much colour this late in the year but I always have a little sadness knowing that the first frosts are not too far away. On the other hand...those frosty night always bring bright sunny days.

  24. Wow, what a garden and the perils of nature. Thanks for dropping by. I'll be back!

  25. Bella, thanks for coming by. If you like Pretty Lady (which is a beautiful creamy pink in the center fading to blush), also consider Mother of Pearl. It's a little darker pink but the petals are almost luminescent.

    Patrick, thanks for visiting! We have two huge kouzas (the kind with tastt berries) and the birds have been nipping away at one but haven't bothered the other one too much. I got an entire bowl (about 8 cups) of berries and will be posting the recipes I've been playing with. If I had to, though, I would throw netting over them, as I believe in sharing with the birds, but turning over everything to them completely!

    The Snow Fairy has variegated leaves and the blossoms are smaller than a regular Blue Mist. It is a stunning shrub. Confession is good for the soul, so I will tell you that when I bought it, I thought I was buying another euonymous shrub. In my defense, I am visually handicapped and couldn't read the tag LOL. It was when I was actually planting it that I realized... wait a minute, this is not a shrub, this is something ... else. I put it in the same spot where I had planned to put the euonymous and it worked perfectly.

    One... I am still laughing at your pictures LOL. You come up with the craziest things! I just love them!

    Bridget, I feel the same way as you this time of year. As pretty as autumn in New England is, I can never enjoy it because winter is coming!

    Alison, thanks for visiting and do drop by again!


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