Articles for the Month of September 2011

Late Summer Garden

New England Aster

Gardening Gone Wild is once again hosting it’s Picture This Photo Contest, this time on the theme “Late Summer Garden”.  Christa Neu of Organic Gardening will be the judge.  For us, I am only too happy to move to the end of this gardening summer.  The weather has been to all extremes and far from conducive to poking about in the garden.  However, as of today, there is sunshine coming through the trees and the benefits of last nights drenching rainfall percolating through the soil.

There are some striking end of season flowers to be seen around the hill today.  I had lamented about not planting a cardinal flower this year and then found this scarlet sage coming up in the wild flower garden in the triangular field.

Salvia coccinea

In the same little patch of wild flowers I find a very pretty Cosmos as well.


Does it count as gardening if all you do is toss the seed out and then come back two years later to see what is prospering?

At the back of the garage a single St. John’s Wort flower is in evidence.  Even with insect damage it still looks exotic.

St John's Wort

And the loropetalum (a witch hazel relative) has come fully into flower.  I think it was supposed to bloom in the spring but at that point it was on death’s door, having barely survived the winter.  Now, however, it’s covered with beautiful fuchsia-colored straps that are striking against the purple foliage.


Another very positive find for this time of year was on one of the rosemary plants that we put out this year.  Ever since we saw the rosemary in bloom out in Sedona we have been watching our’s (mostly Tuscan Blue) for some more of those gorgeous blue flowers.  We have some we winter over in the garden and some we’ve taken inside.  In no case have we had any blooms until finally this year on a single little plant that I put in the garden after torturing in a tiny pot most of the year.  And now I don’t even remember which variety it is.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) in flower

Another flower with orchid-like shape for this time of year is the toad wort.  We have a particularly nice one with gold margins on the leaves which is very well behaved (some of the trycyrtis grow rampantly).

Trycyrtis (Toad Lily

For the GGW contest I was originally thinking of using an image of the sweet autumn clematis which has been really dramatic for us this year.

Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora)

The swath of clematis is the first thing you see at the back garden now.

A little closer view of Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora)

I realize that for some people this clematis is a bit aggressive.  We have yet to see any seedlings here.  Yet when I drove to Cape May last week this very same clematis was everywhere, draping all the roadsides and fields.

Clematis in understory at Cape May

Yellow warbler astounded by clematis flowers

In the end, I’ve decide to enter a photo of the New England Asters that are just coming out right now.  New England Asters are a native flower found widely across the U.S.  Though mine are undoubtably a cultivated variety the shared characteristic of all these asters is a brilliant purple daisy-like flower with yellow centers.  They are particularly striking representatives of the late summer garden.

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)


Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for Sept 2011

Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since I last posted.  I could say that we’ve been on vacation (multiple times) and otherwise traveling (multiple times), that there have been earthquakes, tropical storms, droughts, and deluges, and that the garden has required tending — and all would be true.  Nonetheless, suffice it to say that there were numerous posts that never got to the typed version but only danced around in my head.  If I stand back and take stock now I am grateful that anything has made it through the gardening year that we’ve had.  After terrible lack of rain in the heat of the summer we got 6.5 inches of rain in the first 8 days of September (the usual average for the month is 3.5 inches).  Think of wet sponge as you walk about the back yard.

One flower that is remarkable for its presence at the moment is the Sweet Autumn Clematis.  It has taken advantage of the caterpillars that decimated the White Double-flowering Cherries this spring and has used the branches as a platform for the most amazing show of white fragrant flowers.

Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) closer up

I’m torn between wanting to celebrate this gaudy show and a desire to try for one last save of the cherries (though probably a lost hope at this point).

Elsewhere in the yard the Japanese Anemone ‘September Charm’ is reliably  coming into bloom.

Japanese anemone 'September Charm'

And the Alstroemeria in the front bed have continued to bloom off and on since springtime.

Alstroemeria 'Sweet Laura'

Also in the front yard is a combination of small dahlias with the hybrid euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ that has turned out to be a good lead-in to the front porch.

Small dahlias and hybrid Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'

As you walk to the back it’s hard not to notice the pyracantha that are fruiting as though there were no tomorrow and growing ever skyward onto and above the deck.

Pyracantha 'Mojave'

Back beside the garage is my comeback plant of the year.  The Loropetalum, which looked dead in early spring (it’s only marginally hardy here), is now looking robust and even tentatively putting forth color at the end of the branches.  Credit to Les at Tidewater Gardener for introducing me to this plant.


Even further back on the hillside as we come to the plants that we expect to do a lot of self-care, the goldenrod is coming into its yellow glory.  And to think that some people in this household think it’s a weed.

Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’

So I’ll close by suggesting you visit May Dreams Gardens and check out what’s growing other gardens for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  And I’ll try to be a little more consistent in reflecting on what is happening on this hill…