Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for November 2010

The fall leaves dominate the backyard and flowers are scarce

Well this November Bloom Day finds us with a limited number of flowers and a powerful number of brilliant fall leaves.  We have had an extended sunny autumn with many of the plants making a comeback as they (falsely) assume that the cold weather will never get any worse than the 28 degrees that we’ve seen now and then this fall.  It’s been altogether a great time for fall bulb planting (all completed this week), garden chores (never complete), and photography.

The few flowers that let us still claim this as bloom day are the Gallardia, some random snapdragons, a few bedraggled salvia, and some very nice little Calendula.

Gallardia grandiflora 'Arizona Sun'

There are a few other sources of flowers besides the perennials though.  In the pasture the dandelions have had a rebirth and I’ve also seen the Yellow Toadflax showing it’s cute little butter and eggs flowers.

Yellow Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)

Another plant that persists in flowering beyond all reasonable expectations is the Loropetalum.  I first saw this plant in a posting from Les at A Tidewater Gardener.  It has already grown rapidly from 1 gallon plant this spring to a fairly decent sized shrub with pretty fuschia flowers that have strap-like petals.  The question will be how it survives our winters.   Stay tuned…


Strap-like flowers on the Loropetalum

One other source of flowers are the plants we’ve brought inside in pots.  A particularly lovely violet shade is on the bougainvillea which is happily flowering (or what passes for flowering on a bougainvillea) in the basement.

Violet Bougainvillea

The various grasses have yielded their seed heads, some more colorful than others.  I couldn’t help noticing the fine scale of the pink muhly grass since Beth has brought several stalks into the house.

Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

But the real color of the season is the leaves.  Everywhere you look there are various shades of leaves doing their thing.  The gigantic Red Maple in the backyard has turned a vivid yellow this year.  And it contrasts nicely with the other maples.

Red Maple with yellow fall leaves

Depending upon the light in the morning or evening the outline of the Japanese Maple leaves against the sky can also be quite artistic.

Japanese maple leaves in outline

The japanese maple leaves are also quite persistent as we move toward winter.

Speaking of persistency, one of my favorite trees in the forest is the American Beech.  The leaves turn from golden to a warm brown shade and last well into the winter.

Beech leaves

Although they stand out even in a mixed forest, if you can find them in a grove setting it can be perfectly wonderful.   We have one such grove along one of the trails at the Worthington Farm, a part of the Monocacy National Park.  It is a delightful, almost mythic place, at any time of year.  But in the fall it really comes alive with golden yellow-brown.  Seek such a grove out and treasure it.

American Beech (Fagus grandiflora) in forest grove

Go to May Dreams Gardens for other Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts…

Grasses Galore

Grasses in the Pasture

We had an epiphany the other afternoon staring out at the grasses waving in the pasture.  We went to some trouble this spring to plant a variety of special grasses next to the garage in a sloping area that leads down the hill.  You have to mentally remove the garbage cans in the background to visualize what this area will eventually look like.  But the idea is really to have a set of medium to tall grasses in an area where they can spread a bit and wave in the wind.

Grasses newly planted next to garage

The grasses include Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’), Black Flowering Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides “Moudry’), Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Prairie Dropseed ‘Sporobolus heterolepis’, Pink Fountain Grass (Pennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose’), Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris), and Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).

In addition to the bed by the garage, we also began an entirely new garden bed on the hillside in a full sun location.  This one was dug using my normal approach of digging postholes with the tractor, adding compost to taste, and then tilling to one’s heart’s desire.

Almost a full load of compost added to the new bed

Hillside garden bed tilled to perfection (more or less)

Tilling on a slope is not an easy task…

The first plants have been placed in the new bed

This new bed is intended to have robust sun lovers that will survive a certain amount of benign neglect as they are rather far from the house.  Specifically this means Rudbeckias, Heliopsis, Baptesia, Potentilla and other strong growers.  But we also included yet another grass — a Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’).

It was when looking at this little Switch Grass (all of our new grasses are somewhat little at this stage) with the backdrop of the pasture, when it occurred to us that all these new grasses are going to have to compete with the wild and lovely display that we get from the pasture.  All of these grasses have come along on their own from some previous farmer.  I don’t even know what they are.  I think the bulk might be Orchard Grass.  But there are other colorful varieties that make a lovely display as the seed heads ripen.

Pasture grasses

We’ll check back in the Fall and see how these newer grasses measure up to the volunteers in our pasture.

Picture This — Ornamental Grasses

Nature's Ornamental Grass

Nature's Ornamental Grass

Gardening Gone Wild’s Picture This Photo contest for September focusses on Ornamental Grasses.  And very appropriately Nan Ondra who authored the book Grasses: Versatile Partners for Uncommon Garden Design will be the judge.

There are some great pictures out there of grasses in different seasons, with and without flowers, with rain or snow, and with ornaments.  I looked at the some of my favorite grasses around the garden as possible candidates.

Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

The Sea Oats are one of my favorites but I haven’t gotten my perfect picture of them yet.  They need to grow taller or be less crowded by their neighbors.

Pink Fountain Grass (Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose')

Pink Fountain Grass (Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose')

And the Pink Fountain Grass is another common favorite among the oriental grasses.  But I need to give a space in the garden where it can really strut its stuff.

Japanese Bloodgrass (Imperata)

Japanese Bloodgrass (Imperata)

The Japanese Bloodgrass is yet another favorite ornamental grass that it still looking for a better photographer.  But for my chosen submission to the contest I decided on a plant that probably won’t make to anyone else’s blog.

Green Foxtail (Setaria viridis)

Green Foxtail (Setaria viridis)

This is part of my theme of noticing the things that surround you.  This is a widespread annual grass that is usually thought of as a weed despite its spectacular seed heads.  It is thought to have been a progenitor of millet and is sometimes referred to a wild millet.  But it’s aggressive, its forage value is limited, and it is somewhat allelopathic (stunts it’s neighbors) so it is officially a weed.

But in the early morning or late evening light those seed heads really stand out.