Come see me at Tower hill Botanic Garden next Sunday Nov 8th at 1 pm . Link for class is here
There are so very many things I should have been doing garden-wise these past few weeks….getting fallen leaves off the plants in the rock garden, cutting back lots of dead ugly stuff, raking , planting bulbs for spring display, putting away the gardenalia that can’t take our winters etc. but really, I could care less. It feels too early to be putting the garden to bed so in protest I am not.
i wish I could say I have been doing fun and interesting things instead, but alas, Wil hurt his back and Faith has been undergoing some medical treatment that has kept me quite busy transporting patients too and fro while also managing work and homelife . Kind of been a big bummer ,but we certainly have been through worse.
I hope next week to fit in planting the big box of bulbs that has been sitting in my office and tidy the front a little. I gave up on even trying to manage Halloween decorations, not even a single jack-o-lantern to be seen , so at least I won’t have to deal with the dreaded clean up ( in years I have gone whole-hog I certainly regretted it on November 1st) but if the weather holds I will get the winter lights up ( though NEVER lit until December) and maybe get some containers all decked out for winter too.
I have a few photos of some arrangements , I have been steadily plugging along at my goal to keep arranging until my 52 weeks are up on the Slow Flower Challenge and the biggest issue has been taking the photos believe it or not.
If the light is not good for photography when I make them , sometimes, well most of the time if I am honest, I just never get back to it. These last weeks of October and into November chrysanthemums are the stars and that is what is in these two. I also adore the foliage of the viburnums and although we have had many nights below freezing the foliage on a few shrubs, like the buddleias, still looks good.
This one is Sheffield mums, dara ( which is in it;s pot growing in the kitchen having been rescued from frost as I can’t get enough of it!) , heuchera leaves from ‘Magnum’ and calicarpa berries, and cardoon leaves which look fresh as ever despite the cold.
..and just as a reminder to myself to stop sulking that the season is over and to focus on the fact that it is time to get moving a little throwback if you will to Halloween 2011 when we were hit by a heavy wet snow storm making clean-up a nightmare.,
sometimes I have a hard time coming up with the right words to make a plant come to life in a profile the way it does in the garden.
sedum ‘october daphne’ is like that , really it should just leap off he screen and grab you by the shoulders , look you square in the eye and say “PLANT ME”
It is a beauty season long with nicely scalloped leaves that emerge toward the bluish side of green with a graceful arching habit. It tolerated the dry conditions here both in the ground and in the two un-watered containers I had it in like a champ.
When it started to bloom I found the bright two-toned pink flowers just divine and a delightful change from the more salmony -pink of some of its family members.
but boy oh boy as the temperatures cooled around here was I ever smitten with this plant.
then, as night time temps dropped even lower, the leaves seemed to glow, an electric orange pink at a time when the garden can look quite dull and muted.
I have this planted in the pink border at the very edge , as well as in two previously mentioned containers, ( a cement basket. and an old wheelbarrow) .
I grow over 40 different sedum ( or in their new genera;hylotelephium,petrosedum and phedimus) and I love them all. Most thrive in the dry hot sun here, though there are many that will tolerate shadier and much wetter conditions making them all super easy to grow. I have been experimenting with different combinations of them in containers so I can ease up on the watering during the height of summer. A number of my favorites have smaller leaved and are very interesting close up, and I place those together in flat hypertufa or metal troughs , some are quite large and serve as filler or color contrast with other plants. But ‘october daphne’ is so stunning it can stand on its own , a true plant of merit for any New Egland garden.
as an aside I just felt the need to point out this curiosity .There is a series of monographs (books written on a single plant genus) put out by Timber Press called The Plant Lover’s Guides. I have most of them, so when writing this of course went to the one called “The Plant Lover’s Guide to Sedums” to see what it had to say. The description is ok, although not as enthusiastic as I would expect, but the accompanying photo ( just one) is this.
we have been very lucky weather wise not to have suffered a hard frost…don’t worry it is coming , and soon, but for now the garden just keeps carrying on. I have read the phrase “pockets of beauty” ad nauseam for some reason these past few weeks in reference to what is left to see our gardens…BAH! …Fall is glorious with color!
there are so very many late blooming plants that can bring us from the end of the summer all the way into December here in New England and they should be a part of every garden in a place where we have snow cover for months. Paired with the turning foliage of peonies,geraniums, many shrubs and of course our deciduous trees ,the garden is so vibrant now , add in the low light and great weather and it is paradise!
there are late season mums and asters
loads of shrubs and trees that have beautiful berries and fruit
rose hips and reblooming roses
sedums and hydrangeas
long and late season annuals, many of which you can see below in the vases I put together for a presentation today
the late blooming montauk daisy, gentian and the long blooming garden phloxes
persicaria and alluim thungbergii ‘ozawa’ ( with sedum and gentians)
and then there are those plants like geranium ‘rozanne’, verbenna ‘annie’ and every agastache on the market, as well as the honeysuckle ‘major wheeler’ that bloom for such a long time that I can almost ( but not quite yet) say i am sick of them!
Still yet to come are a half dozen more perennial mums that are still in bud and won’t be harmed by frost at alll!
below is a look at everything I cut today for a presentation on shrubs …the flowers are just a bonus in addition to the beauty of the branches that are the base of the arrangements
.The last one was made just for me though ( i really really really like pink)
head on over to see what is going on elsewhere and for tons of inspiration at May dreams gardens
Did you ever stumble upon a plant for one reason or another and add it to the garden only to realize later what a gem you actually have? Well ,that is precisely how I feel about the plant in today’s profile; monarda bradburiana , also called Bradbury’s monarda., or Eastern bee-balm.
I have many bee balms planted her in the garden. They are great for pollinators and I dig the flowers. Many of them, though, can get scraggly after bloom and a few are prone to powdery mildew on their leaves. Some can also be quite aggressive and can take over smothering and out competing other plants I count on them as bee food and sometimes for arrangements but I consider none of them to be good foliage plants and am careful where I plant them.
A couple of years ago I was placing an order from Prairie Moon, a native plant nursery that sells plug plants i by the tray in the spring for a relatively cheap price. After adding what I wanted to my plug list I was in need of a few more selections to round the number out to fill a tray and . I figured adding another bee balm here would be alright , so into the virtual cart went some plugs of Bradbury’s monarda.I planted them in random places throughout the gardens to see how they played with others and what they brought to the table.
The answer is …a lot! They grew well in both the sunnier and shadier locations I picked and did not need any extra water or soil amendments. This monarda is the earliest of all to bloom, and although it is no great stunner in the flower department, they are bee magnets. As the season progressed I left the seedheads which were kind of cool for a while, then deadheaded it and forgot about it.
The other bee balms came into bloom in succession, then they did the scraggly leggy thing they are prone to here, and the ones who typically get mildew did, and many got cut back to the ground to hopefully throw out new clean foliage.
A few weeks ago when transplanting some stuff, I realized that the Bradbury’s monarda foliage that happened to be next to the shrub I was moving was still beautiful and was actually taking on a reddish hue as a bonus. I checked out the other locations , and across the board every plant had clean beautiful bushy foliage that was coloring up for Fall. Without haste i dug the ones in more hidden areas up, divided them, and replanted them to edge several beds. They make a beautiful ground cover and the late color change is a big plus. As a clump former , opposed to a runner like others , I am not worried about competition and actually hope they increase in size enough to give away a few and add some to other borders here.
This also serves as a reminder that sometimes”improvement” through cultivation in plants is not always needed. or desired. Many of my bee balms that were bred for a certain color flower, or longer bloom time , or shorter height don’t even come close to the beauty of this unchanged native. That may not always be the case and I LOVE that plant breeders are continually working to provide us with interesting and disease resistant plants that fill our garden needs, but in this case what Mother Nature gave us really can’y be improved upon.
Bradbury’s monarda will grow 1- 2 ft tall in a bushy mounded form , and is hardy in zones 4-8. Bloom time is May, and September with its cooler nights will bring on the color change in the leaves.
This year was a little unusual in that it was so dry for so long that some of my September stars are actually fashionably late to the party and will now, if the first hard frost holds off, take the stage this month.
Roses and clematis are two divas that held off, and now there are many in full bud and bloom, and curiously some stalwarts that never quit in most years are sleepy this one.
On the other hand, ’The Fairy’ , a polyantha which almost always blooms without rest has been all leaves since July, as have the red un-named climber and the white ‘Magic Carpet’
Similarly, most of the September re-blooming clematis were no shows, and now Pope John Paul II is in full bud again.
Th annual vines can be counted on to brighten the place up until frost.
Of course it is time for the late chrysanthemums
many more including the very late Sheffield and Copper Penny mums are in full bud waiting in the wings to carry the show late into the year.
Also bringing loads of color and interest to the stage are the berries and rose hips.
the two snowberries, symphoricarpos albus , and.s. doorenbosii ‘Amethyst’ get many inquiries , they should be planted more given their tough as nails constitution, bee friendly flowers and unusual berries
the deciduous hollies are all decked out
the rose hips of Rosa glauca never fail to disappoint . hard to believe they are the result of flowers that bloomed so long ago in early June
There are a few other perennials and shrubs rounding out the cast of characters keeping it real here……..
I add gallardia , or blanket flower into just about any bed I can fit a few in. It is exceptionally long blooming, easy to grow , and I love the bright color play off the late season purples and blues of the asters and gentians. I have had bad luck with some of the newer introductions like ‘Oranges and Lemons’ or ‘ Fanfare’, overwintering , and ‘Mesa Yellow is not a very vigorous grower here, although the dwarf ‘Goblin has performed well .
and the best part for me of this years late garden are the asters. As I have complained about before , rabbits think of asters as crack around here, Plant them and they WILL get eaten to the ground. The only exception thus far has been this very bushy light purple variety that was a gift division from a friend with no name attached . I have been trying to name it all summer, ( am currently reading the book “Asters” by Paul and Helen Picton) and have a few guesses. I started and will continue to divide it so I will have a few in each Fall border hopefullywith in a few years.
This teeny eeny sprig of bright pink Aster somehow got overlooked by the evil critters. I must go through the HUGE ziploc bag of plant labels from those who have gone to meet their maker and figure out it’s name.
This year i added Aster lateriflorus ’Lady in Black’ as an experiment. It has dark burgundy leaves, which usually get left alone by the bunnies, and so far, so good. It was planted in very early spring and is now a large, beautiful bee buzzing plant.
and it wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t whining so….here goes
WORST YEAR FOR DAHLIAS………EVER!
out of the 10 new varieties I added and the several I overwintered, I have ONE that has been blooming steadily called Ted’s Choice, three that bloomed sporadically like this one which is Enchantress , and the rest have yet t do a blessed thing.