Category Archives: What’s Blooming

easy peasy clematis

I hear from many people at my talks that they find clematis to be tricky, fussy , or even impossible to grow. that may very well be true for some of the large flowered hybrids with their susceptibility to wilt and siren call they send out to every slug from here to Nova Scotia, but the more you know about this fascinating genus of plants  the better able you are to pick and choose the ones that flower generously and remain more or less trouble free in the garden .

For the next couple of weeks i am going to introduce you to some clematis that are as easy as pie to grow and maintain , and also bring some charm into the garden.

First a little background info. The genus clematis has quite a number of differing species , and these species hail from all over the globe and can be markedly different in their growth and growing requirements. One way growers use to simplify the what and how of each species and their hybrids  is to lump them into loose groups based on parentage.

The four groups I am going to talk about are all full of late season bloomers, with generally smaller flowers  massed on larger vines , they are the Tangutica group, the Heracleifolia Group, the Viorna Group and the Vitacella Group. One a week for four weeks, follow along!!!

This week we start with the Tanguitica group and three  of the easiest clematis varieties you will ever grow.

The Tanguita group holds clematis that have either c.tanguitica, c. orientalis, c.serratifolia, or c. tibetana as a parent, it is sometimes also called the Orientalis group. Many clematis in this group have yellow or orange-y yellow flowers, but also white, cream or even those that look brown, or some that are bi-colored. The clematis in this group also sport some pretty amazing seed heads and many of the vines can grow large enough to cover a shed or pergola.

C.tangutica ‘Bill MacKenzie’ was the first one I ever grew from this group. It can reach 25+ feet and has lovely foliage which never looks ratty  because it is very adapted to living in poor sandy soils and is quite tolerant of drought .I t will sulk in heavy or poorly drained soil so add grit and gravel if necessary in your neck of the woods. I have planted Bill under the one ( out of 20) remaining poplar trees in the yard where it happily has grown into the canopy of the tree and flowers from June to September. After the first few flower pass (usually in July) the vine starts to also show off the gorgeous large silky seed heads that persist until early winter . I press the foliage of this guy a lot for my Pressed Flower card workshops, it is quite fine, almost ferny.

seed heads of bill MAc

seed heads of bill MAc

foliage of Bill Mac

foliage of Bill Mac


This clematis blooms only growth it makes in the current year, so you could in fact cut it down to 12 inches or so in the late winter, but I chose to cut only a few vines back, and to staggered heights at that, to maintain some of the height into the tree and get flowers at many levels.

Clematis ‘My Angel’ is also a very vigorous plant and quite the charmer. I bought mine from Klehm’s Song Sparrow and am copying their description here because it is perfect (photos are mine)

Charming flowers are yellow on the inside and brushed with plum-red on the outside. Clematis My Angel® has plump, round buds that open to nodding flowers over a long bloom period. Each bloom has four showy tepals and is accented with a center of dark plum anthers. Flowers give way to fluffy silvery, seed heads.

my angel

my angel

DSC_0008 (3)

The only thing I will add is that my flowers tend to be the size of a dime , they are beyond adorable.

I word of caution, I have heard this baby will seed itself , but usually near the mama plant. haven’t had it happen here but good to know.

The third member of this group I am growing is new to me this year, and seriously, if you can’t grow this one you should maybe take up a new hobby.

‘Radar Love ‘ had solid yellow open bells and gorgeous seed heads, how do I know this so soon? Started from seed in April, my plants are already blooming and one has seeds too. 4 months from seed to blooming vine, and mind you, I  had almost 100% germination rate so  I actually ran out of locations to put them in the garden and  I left some in pots where they have been deliriously happy .

radar love

radar love

radar love

radar love

radar love seed head

radar love seed head


Doesn’t get easier than this, well, except maybe next week’s group, The Heracleifolias!


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today’s adventure

IMG_20160621_125634the girls and I took a little trip today , and like anytime we spontaeously decide to take off and see garden or two we call  it an adventure. It sounds much more exciting that way , and plus it always involves stops for lunch or ice cream, or both ,and maybe a little shopping too if there is time.
Today’s adventure was to Elizabeth Park in Hartford CT. Elizabeth Park is just over 100 acres of lovely gardens icluding a very formal bedding garden ,  a perennial garden , lots of beautiful open space for recreation, and a beautiful rose garden as it’s pièces de résistance.  I have had this trip on my must do list, but rose gardens in New england peak in late June early July and that time of year is never particularly free for me. So i dream all winter of how I can possibly fit it in, and finallhy this year had time and made the trek.

We did, in fact ,stop to smell the roses, every variety. We also took pictures of the labels on those considered potential additions to The Burrow. Throughout the girls would delight in the color of fragrance of  a particular rose ( Faith leans toward the traditional  look of the floibundas and Erin toward the wild and crazy ramblers)  and say ” this one would be good” to which I would often respond ” we have that one. It became clear to me that although I think there are many roses here it is a case of the familiar “too many yet not enough “syndrome that strikes every garden.IMG_20160621_125233

IMG_20160621_125936093Some roses can be finicky plants and here those that are grow in mixed borders for the most part so if they are not behaving other flowers and foliage will cover their sins. Mostly I grow them to go out and pick for the house or carry around and sniff as I work.   There are also many easy care varieties here, like loads of the Drift Roses from the breeders of the ubiquitous Knockouts, and several knockouts in both pink and red, Magic Carpet roses, and a few from the Earth Kind list put out by Texas A&M.

But the fussier ones are often a little more difficult to chance upon as you stroll, you have to know where to look. I hesitate to add more when I take a second to think about the losses ( Ebb Tide, Baby Cheryl, two William Baffins, Lion’s Fairy Tale, Golden Celebration, 2 of three Christopher Marlowes, Yellow  brick Road, Sharif Asma, Coral Magic Carpet, Pink Home Run, Don Juan, Several Iceberg climbers, the list could go on and on). Some were lost to rabbits ,, some to weather, and a few, including my favorite that I can’t find a replacement for ,Kiss Me from Easy Elegance.  were lost to the fence/pool construction.

So the question remains ……add more  and deal with growing struggles and loss or stick with what is working ? The answer , as you could probably guess is add more!

i really like ordering from David Austin Roses , so will probably stick with them , As we speak the catalogue is on my desk and the post- its are ready to stick. I was really drawn to the wine/purple  colored flowers today so will try to any in those colors to my list,. I may also branch out to look for one that especially struck me today called  Easter Basket .It  is a floribunda bred by Meilland and supposedly widely commercilly available, It also gets high marks for performance from The New York Botanical Garden which is a no spray rose garden .easter basket

Tonight I took a walkabout when we got home with the camera to see what’s going on here rose-wise  and things are not too shabby.  There are many ( maybe a dozen or so) that are still in tight bud, but those that are blooming are looking A-OK.

all the rageDSC_0003 (2)DSC_0005DSC_0006DSC_0008white magic carpetrugosa albachristopher marlowenew dawnrosa de'le'heyjulia child??crown princess margeretaDSC_0023can't find the tag, quitness maybe?DSC_0026 (2)drift pinkDSC_0032DSC_0037


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file these under ‘things that look good growing together’

it is always fun to see throughout the season which plants work well together and complement each other . Sometimes the combinations are ideas that occur to me when I should be sleeping on a late January night. Sometimes, they are a variation of something I saw in a book or magazine. More often than not, the are serendipitous pairings formed by self- seeding or random placement. I try to take note of these chance happenings especially  so I can repeat them in the future …. and take credit for the creativity behind them ;)

Anyway, here are a few that are happening right now.

Sedum tel.rupestre ‘Hab Gray’ and mandevilla. I love how the blush tone in the sedum leaves gets magnified by the intense red of the mandevilla. These are both planted in containers that just happen to be placed next to one another. Happy accidentDSC_0017


This area of the garden has a lot going on. The black eyed susans, seedheads of penstemon’Husker Red’, butterfly bush, clematis seedheads, and in the very back angelica gigas. (Planned by me)DSC_0001


On to a more simple combo. the blushing blooms of hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ and summersweet clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’   well thought out if I do say so myself!DSC_0005 (2)

More simple stuff, platycodon or balloon flower at the feet of a butterfly bush….can’t remember if I placed them there or they seeded?DSC_0007

all these shades of greens and blue greens surrounding the view into a stand of heleniums


planned! Go me!DSC_0012acidanthera  or peacock orchids and thunbergia alata or climbing balck eyed susan vine growing into a spring blooming  bridal wreath spirea….another combo I though of instead of sleeping DSC_0014

a long blooming clematis called ‘Roguchi’ and golden chamaecyparis…most definitely planned, I LOVE these two colors playing off each otherDSC_0021

sedum ‘Garnet Brocade’ tumbling over  into a blue bird’s nest spruce…..more the hand of mother nature than mine

DSC_0024 and an aeonium called ‘Kiwi’ and the foliage of a  potted rosemary. I didn’t plan this, just paced them together because it looked good and as they have grown onto each other it looks even better.DSC_0028by the end of each year it is nice to have a whole folder of images that capture what worked ( and what didn’t)  so when  those long winter nights arrive there is  plenty  dream about!

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more firsts for the garden, both good and bad

If you have been hearing a loud “WHOOT WHOOT!”  in the atmosphere lately it is probably me because I HAVE POPPIES!!! ( or shoud l I say “poppy”)

After the lupines I figured it was just too much to ask the gardening gods to let me have a poppy or two, so even though I scattered seed AND started a flat that I planted out in spring I held out no hope to see any of them make it to blooming stage. One year they actually got big enough to tease me with all their  dangly fuzzy buds, but just like every other time those were quickly eaten off by the rabbits . DSC_0020With plants that cost $$$ I am always willing to go the extra mile to protect them if necessary, but with anything from seed I sow and pray and hope maybe one day to have success.

Well, that day is now, and I refuse to complain that only one single solitary plant made it because one is enough to see plenty of flowers and to also ensure i have some seed for next year.DSC_0021poppy

The poppy that made it is unfortunately of unknown name. Erin and I went on a garden tour in Maine last year for the Garden Conservancy fundraiser and at one of the sign in tables the owners were handing out poppy seed heads. We managed to spill many all over the car  on our way home  and then again I spilled them all over the couch when I was seed organizing, but thankfully there are a million in each pod so I still had plenty to sow.  They are just delightful and I am beyond thrilled to have them whoever they are.

Another first is a day lily cross  that I had absolutely  nothing to do with. It is dreadfully ugly.  I guess I have reached the magic number of gardening years after which things start willy nilly procreating without my attention. Good for lily cross

The next first , and one that is just plain gross, is the first ever sighting here of a mole.

Last week Wil called out to me from the garage in that very special tone he uses that lets me know something is wrong/scary/broken or hurt and when I came to rescue him from the big bad whatever, he informed me that a large rodent had made it’s way into the garage and I needed to locate and evict it. From his description I was expecting  a capyberra or another R.O.U.S  , but alas I could not find it and then sort of forgot about it…….that is until I went out near the pool two days ago and saw what  had once been a mole floating dead in the water. It was pretty small for what I was expecting , but really, those things are disgusting. The next day another had joined it’s sibling in the great  mole hill beyond the sky, and it was then that it dawned on me that what Wil saw in the garage was probably the mama.  I inquired about the R.O.U.S. and was told that yes, it may have been smaller than described, and yes it was moving slowly  ( it appears the size and scary frantic activity related to me originally  may have been embellished).

Mama mole  is clearly not doing a good job in the mothering department. A suburban garage is not good mole raising habitat and especially not when it is adjacent to a very large chlorinated body of water. I have been searching around for tunnels  but so far nada.

We also have our first capture of the green tree frog,  a pond dweller, yet happily hanging here in the hydrangea,DSC_0001

It is curious to me when a new critter arrives and I can’t help but wonder how in heaven’s name they found their way here. We have had those yucky  yellow spotted salamanders even though they would most certainly dehydrate before they got to the nearest vernal pond . We have had foxes, of course rabbits, evil reptiles that shall remain unnamed, and every bug and bird known to exist in MA. We now have a pair of hawks that circle overhead hunting  which is a little disconcerting for corgi dog owners…word to the hawks, I keep them well fed  and thus they are too fat for you to fly off with…take note. I am patiently waiting for a bear and of all the things that have shown up here for a snack I am bewildered by the fact that a bear is not among them.Although my development  abuts state forest and conservation land on all sides and there are year round bird feeders everywhere, the only bears seen  in town are in the more populated areas that have smaller  woods close by. Curious.

As for the rest of the visitors, I wonder who is sending out the message that this former desolate sand pit is now a dream vacation land with a 24 hour buffet? Really, it needs to stop.

What follows are just some random photos of the garden taken in the past few days, a little eye candy if you will. Enjoy your week!DSC_0027 DSC_0025 DSC_0023 DSC_0019 DSC_0017 DSC_0012 DSC_0016 DSC_0004 DSC_0002 DSC_0033 DSC_0032 DSC_0028 DSC_0024 DSC_0022 DSC_0021 DSC_0019 DSC_0012 DSC_0010 DSC_0007 DSC_0007 (2) DSC_0006 sweet pea Salmon Rose

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A weird plant profile: Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

It seems strange to write a profile of a plant I would never encourage you to add to your  garden, but I think we all have those that we are grateful to have, even if they are not the best behaved

Penstemon digitalis  ’Husker Red” is truly a self-seeding thug.You let those flower stalks stay one mili-second past the their bloom time and several million seeds will find their way to all corners of the garden and you will be weeding it forever plus one day. Once it has seeded and started to grow it requires more than a tiny pull to evacuate, and will often nestle right in at the base of other plants forcing you to work very hard indeed to extricate it,DSC_0006

BUT , ( there is always a but , huh?) It is 100% rabbit  proof. They never touch the stuff and I am pretty sure it has to do with the reddish leavesDSC_0004 (2).I have been diligently  reading  what little research is out there on anthocyanins,, a chemical  present in plants in part responsible for the reddish pigmentation. It comes into play in New England’s spectacular Fall color, and will also appear in green leaved plants when they are exceptionally dry. It is clearly prominent in Husker Red in the leaf coloring and there is work being done to see if there is an olfactory component ( in other words can it be detected by smell/taste ) that make it a deterrent for herbivores and insects. The research is so far scarce and the questions being raised show it is a very complex subject , but  I have noticed that plants that either emerge with red leaves or have them season long suffer far less predation than their green counterparts. That is anecdotal evidence  at best, but if it means that I can have asters if I plant “Lady in Black” instead of ” Alma Potschke’. I am a believer.

This penstemon , like all others, is also a pollinator magnet ,attracting all sorts of bees and that long tubular shaped flower along the dramatic red stalks tell you the hummingbirds will adore it ( and they do)DSC_0003.It brightens up the areas of the garden I let it seed in, and is one of the very few things that is planted in drifts here because I love the long delicate wands of white tinged with lavender  bringing color and life to the garden over a long period of time.  and the leaves remain through the winter  providing some interest when the ground is bare of snow and many of the other perennials are completely devoid of vegetation.DSC_0001 (2) DSC_0005

if left un-dead- headed , the seed heads are very cool  for texture later in the season, but they come with a price of more weeding out. They also smell like dirty feet , but in an arrangement that is placed out of the way , they look great.

On a rainy day like today it is a joy to look at at the garden and see  the Husker Red flowers bringing such a spark of life , via color and pollinator action. It is certainly not the only Penstemon I grow, or even close to my favorite, but it certainly has it’s place in the great scheme of things over here.DSC_0001

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Slow Flowers week 17

Today was 80 degrees, to heck with Spring let’s just jump on into Summer.  Grrrrrrr. Angry face. Now that the snow has melted the ground is dry enough to work in the gardens the weather is getting too warm too fast. The chirpy little weather girl grinning ear to ear telling us all ” No rain in the forecast for days and mid 70′s to low 80′s” is seriously ticking me off. We need Spring people!!! Nice 50-6o degree days with cooler night, lots of rain , so the tulips, daffodils and  minor bulbs can put on their show. Today I had top ut the sprinklers on for gosh sakes  .   Hellebores that were in the last bit of  frozen ground here less than two weeks ago haven’t even opened up yet   , tulips that are  just opening  and quickly fade. Which is all the more reason to get out and cut  . The earliest of my tulips are usually the species t. clusiana , but this year the purissimas beat them. Tulip  fosteriana purissima and t.  fosteriana ‘Flaming purissima  which are also known as  Emperor tulips , are some of the best tulips you can add to your garden because of their willingness to perennialize  , meaning they will reliably come back year after year unlike many of their brethren.

Flaming purissima  has a very cool color story. Some will bloom all red , some very red with cream  streaking, and some cream with reddish streaking. you never know what you are going to get. I added them to the garden a few years back and woke one day in Spring to see about half the bulbs had  been dug up and dragged off   by some critter . ( who left very neat holes by the way). Since then those that were left have come back  without issue, so last year I added some of the  plain cream colored Purissima  or White Emperor .Click for Options Both are blooming right now in different locations, but it is the Flaming Purissima I used in this weeks arrangement.DSC_0025

I used an old galvanized chicken feeder I lined with a large ziploc bag to hold the water. I walked around and around and around the garden looking for foliage, not a lot has leafed out here yet. I cut twigs off three different spireas, the branches of a pear tree, and then placed around the edge the leaves of the scented citronella geranium I just hacked back  as it gets ready to spend the summer outside. There is also a branch of lindera benzoin in there, for no reason other than I wanted to  cut it.DSC_0016

It feels like every year we climb this very steep mountain in the garden where slowly ,almost one by one, things come into bloom. Then one day out of the blue ,  we crest the hill and go full barreled all out rolling down in an avalanche f flowers that come wave after wave for the rest of the season. I fell like today I was standing on the top of the mountain . Bring it on!DSC_0014

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Slow Flowers Week 15

DSC_0290Spring flowers are finally starting to appear in the garden en masse this week making the work of arranging all the easier, Daffodils , once they have begun blooming in The Burrow , will continue on well  into June ending with the very latest of the bunch ‘Baby Moon’. Unfortunately ( or fortunately depending on how you look at it) I plant countless daffodils a year that come in mixed bags from wherever I can find them so they are cheap, but unnamed. The earliest that are blooming now fall into the cheap and unnamed category, except one little miniature that I am sure was intentionally bought and planted, I just can’t find the label. Oh well. DSC_0224


I have been waiting patiently to use the container  in this weeks arrangement.DSC_0222 It is a little frog in the shape of  turtle and is sweet beyond words.When I found it at a consignment shop  I envisioned using very short stems and covering the shell  , and still plan on doing that, but today went for a different look.  There are 10 or so holes on the top making it easy to insert and support the flowers and it’s diminutive stature made it the perfect vessel to incorporate minor spring bulbs, in this case siberian squill.   Sweet turtle boy has been sitting on my bookshelf looking adorable even without flowers in it since the depths of winter ( I remember ever so clearly  climbing through a 5 ft. snow banking outside the shop to get to the parking meter  the day I bought him) but I am glad the time has come to start using him to arrange.

The only flowers used in this are three different daffodils, including the miniature, and squill, no foliage or fillers. I love how the sunlight plays with the very translucent tepals and coronas of the daffs and bounces off the glass and shiny silver of the container.DSC_0247DSC_0244

I am going to leave this in the kitchen that gets flooded with sunlight every  morning where I can enjoy it as I start the day. sfweek15


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Awesome Annuals

July 15th is no time for  garden Bloggers Bloom Day post. Let’s be serious here and realize that to talk about and photograph all that is bloom here on July 15th would take days and the post would be so long even the most dedicated reader would grow bored, so instead I give you some thoughts on the annuals I am growing here ( and loving) this year.

You have probably heard it said that you start out as a gardener planting annuals and then as you learn more ,switch to growing  perennials and as you age replant yet again  with shrubs. While I agree that it does take some time to mature as a gardener and learn what works best in your yard, , costs the least and maybe requires the least maintenance, I don’t think we as gardeners should ever give up on annual plants.

From a cost standpoint, yes, replanting an entire bed with annuals every year can be pricey. BUT if you take the time at the end of the season to collect seeds from your favorites to plant up next year ,or even just buy inexpensive seed packets,  the cost can be minimized.

From a work standpoint, yes starting loads of plants from seed is not easy and takes some space, but a sunny window will work for some things you want to start early and I have found that annual seeds started outside when the soil temp is warm take off like crazy and catch up or surpass any little annual plants bought at the nursery for $$$ .

This year I started some nasturtiums( Moonlight and Cherries Jubliee) I ordered from Renee’s Seeds inside in a large pot set by the slider in the kitchen in late March , and then started some outdoors when it was warm. Honestly, there is little difference right now. The ones I started in the house are blooming in the pot outside now, but the others are very close to flowering, so the 6 weeks or so or growth the early birds got actually only bought me maybe an extra week of bloom. Note to self…plant them outside when soil is warm and save aggravation of tripping over large pot set on kitchen floor for 6 weeks in the spring.002004












.And let’s be frank, very few perennial plants can give the sheer volume of bloom annual plants do , and adding just a few in key places in the garden can keep the place looking super swell all season long. I made sure I tucked a few of theses beauties in several garden areas and containers.

Here are a few of my other faves form this year’s garden :

Agrostema githago ‘Milas’  a tall (36 inch) ethereal bloomer that fills the space between other plants beautifully., a must for any cottage gardener, will self seed.agrostema

Sweet peas , my favorite is  ’Cupani but  a new one for me this year  ’Fire and Ice’ may be stealing my heart.  ”Fire and Ice’ has extra large flowers that start out purply- pink and fade gloriously into a denim blue. Add in heavenly  fragrance and we have a real winner here, destined to be replanted every springfire and ice sweet pea005

Petunia exserta; this sweet and rare petunia species gets it’s name from the fact that its’ stamens and stigma are exserted (thrust forward) and it is also this quality that makes it a hummingbird magnet. Most petunia hybrids have little nectar to offer these cute little garden friends, but apparently this one has plenty given the rate at which it is visited. This plant was found in the wild in a small area in Brazil in 2007 and slowly seeds have been collected and sold and now  you can buy the plant from Annies Annuals too. I started mine from seeds graciously sent to me by Nan Ondra of Hayfield . It will do well in a shadier location than most hybrid petunias like.petunia exserta

Cerinthe major purpurascens or Blue Honeywort: This steel blue- foliaged charmer is a great addition to containers and I especially love it with bubble gum pinks, like Supertunia ‘ Vista Bubble Gum’ It has tubular flowers the pollinators enjoy and seeds around which is of great benefit to the cost conscious gardener ( or one who has lots of gardening friends)024

Lanai Peach Verbena is an annual I bought to use in several containers. here it is with a red and white  Nemesia. No matter what is is paired with it looks awesome.DSC_0040

This container has a petunia hybrid ( name long lost) that self seeds every year both  in the pot it was grown in and the ground around it. This year while waiting for it to sprout I threw in lettuce seeds and have been harvesting it every time I walk by on my way from the grill. The lettuce is getting ready to bolt just as the petunias are filling in.lettuce and perunias

Convolvulus tricolor   ‘Blue Ensign’, a morning glory relative, is just starting to bloom in the two containers I planted it in. The seeds cost next to nothing but  these cheery blue flowers are worth a million when they greet me on my morning walk down the walkway to the Pink Garden. This plant is a compact bushy one, not a vine at all, and will bloom until frost. 007 I am posting some other pics I snapped of other annuals knowing that for the most part they are readily available in most garden centers, but it is all in the way you pair them that makes it work. I hope they inspire you to add many annuals to your own garden space !

DSC_0027 pelargonium






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BLOOMBLAHYUCK gets turned on its ear

comtesseOff and on I participate in something called Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. It is the brainchild of Carol over at , and bloggers who want to play along post on the 15th of the month about what is blooming in their neck of the woods and the posts are all linked on Carol’s blog for everyone to view. It is fun to see what is going on in other areas of our country, and even in some distant lands, as bloggers from other countries are welcome to link and often do.  It is also a nice record to have personally . If I manage to keep up with my postings I can scroll back through time and see what has been going on in the gardens on a month by month basis.

Some months the 15th happens and I am completely in a fog and don’t get around to posting. Some months, like this one, I feel like “BLAHBLAHBLAHFLOWERSGARDENBLAHBLOOMBLAHYUCK”. Why this happens? Who’s to know. Boredom. malaise, the feeling of ‘been there, done that’, etc etc. October is also a very busy for my speaking business and having to go out and talk about the garden and plants means less time for he garden and plants and also lends itself to feeling the aforementioned feeling BLAHBLAHBLAHFLOWERSGARDENBLAHBLOOMBLAHYUCK.

BUT…even though I missed the date completely, I could not miss the opportunity to do a little happy dance online about said garden and one plant in particular because it is so remarkable. The weather here has been delightful, and by this I mean days in the 60s and nights staying very warm mostly in the high 40s and 50s. We have had a few scattered light frosts, but they have only affected the coldest most exposed parts of the gardens and actually helped the other parts providing very dramatic fall colors and the romantic look of a frosty garden without the freezing to black death part. Usually by now the last of the clematis are just finishing. Clematis ternifora, or Sweet Autumn as it is commonly known ,is the latest clematis to start blooming, and it is typically accompanied by a few stragglers on Pope John Paul II and maybe Ville de Lyon or Elsa Spath. This year however, the Comtesse de Bouchard out front began another round of blooming AFTER the Sweet Autumn started and is still blooming now. A very rare and very wonderful treat for me.039

What makes it even better is that the variegated garden phlox ‘Nora Leigh’ that the Comtesse winds her way through has also decided in solidarity to continue blooming even though the cold temps have been affecting her foliage . What a team player ! Thank you Nora Leigh, your commitment to making this garden all it can be is duly noted.042

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Three October Bloomers Your Garden Shouldn’t Be Without

Here in New England and other northern  regions of the USA, our growing season is limited due to cold temperatures. Since I have been gardening it has been my mission to extend that season as long as humanly possible, and thus my constant hunt for plants that bloom into October and November.

sheffOne garden stalwart that certainly helps in this pursuit is Sheffield mums (chrysanthemum rubellum). Sheffield mums are NOT the florist mums you can get at the garden center now. See my post here for info on all things ‘”mum”. Instead Sheffield mums are very late perennial plants that overwinter here quite well. I have a variety called ‘Copper Penny’  ( below) and cultivar ( a cross) named ‘Wil’s Wonderful’  and the tried and true pink version . The Sheffield pink  plants are easy to find via friends and fellow gardeners and often local garden club plant sales in the spring which is when they should be (as any mum should be) planted. That is why you don’t find them in garden centers routinely, they are not in bloom when they should be sold and that is not good marketing, even though it is in fact excellent GARDENING which is something many GARDEN centers choose to overlook. The others I have seen on Lazy S Farms website and that is in fact where I ordered my ‘Wils Wonderful’ from. 009

Another that is also a tough find is the Montauk or Nippon Daisy. More and more I am seeing this plant available and that is a good thing as it is such an asset to the fall garden. Montauk Daisy has very woody stems and cool leathery like foliage039 .  Its flowers are just like those of Shasta daisy though.019 Both the Sheffield mums and the Montauk daisies get an early summer shearing here to keep them from getting leggy  and too tall by October. Both also benefit from leaving their foliage intact and uncut through the winter to help them survive .

The third plant is a favorite here because it is completely rabbit proof.

( Montauk Daisies are said to be as well but looky here, that is rabbit damage my friend)018







003Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’ has lovely strappy foliage and adorable nodding blooms. Only growing to about 1-2 feet it is easy to find a home for. Like all alliums it prefers a sunny well drained spot to grow and other than that is undemanding of your attention. It is super hardy , to zone 4. The good thing about it blooming now is that it reminds me, and hopefully you too, how useful alliums are as an easy to care for and visually interesting plant at the perfect ( well really only) time to plant them. You can find allium bulbs in nurseries and garden centers now and popping a few in the ground here and there  will bring loads of delight next year. A few of my other favorites are ‘Purple Sensation’, Allium schubertii which looks like fireworks, and the cute but floppy drumstick allium (a. sphaerocephalon). 008 ’Ozawa’  looks great in a rock garden , although those in this photo are actually in the front garden, just near a rock. Great companion plants for the rock garden are earlier blooming saxifrages or even thyme, but in this garden  they are planted with peony and perennial geraniums for spring color,  allium senescens var. glauca or curly allium, clematis , sunflowers  and verbena that bloom in the summer, and heleniums for the later part of the season. All alliums make great and long lasting cut flowers.

All three of these plants have the added bonus of feeding our favorite winged pollinators, the bees,  in warm fall weather when they are still active yet nectar sources are more scarce.

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