An October Stroll

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Even as I write this, it does not yet feel like October here in the Fairegarden, but the calendar states otherwise. Warm or cool, the yearly tableau of pumpkins on the little bench on the front porch is a favorite craft, with roasting done later for pies and other goodies. The top left pumpkin was just cut from the vine, a leaf is still attached. It was a volunteer from the compost pile. We usually get at least one pumpkin pop up to grow and produce a fruit. A post about such good fortune can be read by clicking here.

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October is the season of the grand finale for the Dahlias. More of these beauties have been added each year and the raised box where they winter over nicely is full. New for 2013 is Dahlia ‘Atropurpurea’ from the wonderful Scott at Old House Gardens.

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This gorgeous specimen, Dahlia ‘Mystic Spirit’ was purchased as a potted plant during the garden blogger’s fling of 2012 at B.B. Barns in Asheville, North Carolina. The foliage is dark and the color is divine.

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A couple of years ago I decided that there were enough oranges and reds in the Dahlia box and thought that Dahlia ‘Bishop of Leicester’ with dark foliage and white with lavender steaks on the blooms would be a good addition to all the hot colors. It was ordered from Plant Delights Nursery and has grown well.

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The one Dahlia out of several seedlings planted out that has survived for several years from the original sowing of a packet of Dahlia ‘Bishop’s Children’ seeds from Thompson and Morgan is over six feet tall and a robust blooming machine. The pollinators and hummingbirds adore the single Dahlias, the better to be able to reach the nectar, my dears.

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Planted this summer was a three gallon pot of Salvia leucantha. Lime was added to our acid soil at planting time and the location is the most protected spot available here. I am hoping to cheat on the zone and create a USDA 8a instead of the normal 7a for a return next spring. A hummingbird visited this big boy recently and completely ignored me while I was standing just inches away. The little bird stopped right in front of my face, trying to decide if I might be a source of food. Sadly, I did not have my camera, which would have spoiled the moment anyway. My heart did a flutter as the beating wings created a breeze that brushed my face. Ahhhhh…

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Beware of fuzzy caterpillars! Do not touch or try to pet any hairy catts or you will get a sharp and painful sting. I speak from experience. This vandal, er creature feasting on the purple cabbage may be the larvae of the acrea moth. If anyone thinks this is not correct, please feel free to correct me. It does provide a nice color combo.

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I was overjoyed to see this Gulf fritillary butterfly visiting the Verbena bonariensis. It is the first sighting of the season. The larval food of passionvine, Passiflora incarnata is allowed to grow more places than it deserves here just to accomodate this orange flutterby. Hooray! This plant was featured in a Wildflower Wednesday post that can be seen by clicking here.

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For over a decade the area now known as the Gravel Garden, story about how it came to be can be found by clicking here, has been a slovenly mess come fall. Plants have been added and removed ad infinitum in order to achieve the vision. This might be it, or as close as we can come and still have year-round interest.

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Easy peasy lemon squeezey is the peegee hydrangea standard maintenance. No tweaking with this one. Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ is never fail for glorious gorgeousness. I love how the pristine white florets fade to pinky green in the fall before turning to toast. The top parts are all cut to the nub in late winter or whenever I get tired of looking at them, which doesn’t usually happen for a while. In the beginning, more pruning was done during the growing season, written about here, but I like the results of no pruning, as was the method this year. The spider web in the lower left quadrant was a serendipitous surprise!

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A few plants are grown here for the delightful berries rather than the attractive flowers. Rosa chinensis ‘Angel Wings’ is such a plant. Grown from seeds purchased from Renee’s Seeds, these small bushes display tiny red hips that will last all winter. Over the years, the group of seedlings have become nice sized and full of hips but no, they do not look fat! A post can be seen by clicking here, for those interested in learning more.

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For once, the pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris is not shouting for attention at the top of the steep slope behind the main house. The sun has not yet lit the fire of desire on the pink inflorescences, but the morning light has painted the fall dogwood leaves in watercolor memories as the chlorophyll washes away before they drop gently to the earth. I guess fall is really here.

Frances

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29 Responses to An October Stroll

  1. Good morning Frances. Seeing your dahlias makes me wish for more in my garden. If they would overwinter here I would surely have them. All of your garden visitors are colorful and entertaining. Such an odd year of weather here. It seems we haven’t had as many butterflies and bugs as normal. The pink muhly makes a beautiful backdrop for the greens and yellows of autumn. Love the pumpkins too.

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by. When it was discovered that the Dahlias would winter over here, in the beginning, planted out in the garden they did not, I broke the tightwad gardener rule and bought more. Now I am thinking about trying to divide them next spring! The slope would be a much more boring scene without the muhly.
      Frances

  2. Valerie says:

    Hi Frances: enjoyed my visit to your garden this morning. The Dahlias are beautiful. Valerie

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Valerie, thanks for visiting. The Dahlias are quite beautiful, they are visited by pollinators and hummingbirds, and in this raised box they winter over. It is win win win.
      Frances

  3. Thanks for the pre-dawn (for me) stroll through your autumn-packed garden. I miss growing these plants in my new garden, which is too shady, but I’m glad to enjoy them in yours.

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Marian, nice to walk along with you in the pre-dawn. I am always up then, as well. I finally was able to get a post written and scheduled for early release like used to be done. A shady garden makes for different plantings. A couple of areas that used to be sunny here are getting much more shade due to every growing trees, the daylily hill in particular. It might need a name change and redo.
      Frances

  4. gail says:

    That was lovely Frances….Your garden makes me happy and as always, is an inspiration. You know I had to get Pink Muhly for a sunny spot I created! Although, having a full on sunny garden isn’t possible in this woodland neighborhood, I do get to grow the loveliest woodland wildflowers and visit friends’ sunny gardens. Btw, is that ‘Karl F’ grass in the Gravel Garden? I also added that to the Susans garden. xoxoxogail

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Gail, thanks so much. Yes, good old Karl F. is used in several beds here. He stands so tall and waves gracefully in the wind, looking great all through the winter. You will be very happy with him, I am sure. The pink muhly will love your sunny slope, too.
      xoxoxo
      Frances

  5. pbmgarden says:

    Frances, your garden is delightful dressed in fall clothing. The Salvia leucantha looks like a winner. Susie

    • fairegarden says:

      Thanks, pbm. Fall is a good time in this garden, we are still waiting for the sheffie mums to open, too. That is always an extravaganza of happiness! Fingers crossed for the Salvia to overwinter, maybe some mulch with leaves, I wonder?
      Frances

  6. I also grew ‘Angel Wings’ from seed, but never gave much thought to the hips. Must start thinking about that . . .

    • fairegarden says:

      Oh good, Kathy, about the little rose. It is less than two feet tall, so positioning is important to best appreciate the hips. I have it along the long wall behind the main house, so the hips are right at eye level. There has also been a wee bit of self sowing from them, too. Good luck with yours!
      Frances

  7. Dee Nash says:

    Beautiful darling! Simply beautiful. You don’t dig your dahlias do you? Also, Salvia leucantha overwintered in my zone 7A/6B garden for years and years. Eventually I lost it, but in the meantime, it was a good time. I planted a new one this year. I’ll let you know how it does.

    • fairegarden says:

      Thanks so much, dear Dee. I do not dig the Dahlias, shovelwise, that is, no. The warm sunny spot and the raised bed filled with light soil and leaf mulch has been to their liking. Your experience with the Salvia leucantha gives me hope. Adding the lime after reading about its requirements might be just the thing to help it survive. I look forward to hearing about your new one.
      Frances

  8. Layanee says:

    It was lovely to walk with you through the garden this October day. It does not feel like October here either. Love the pink muhly. Just love it.

    • fairegarden says:

      Thanks for joining me, Layanee. It has been cool in the mornings but warms up with the sun. Very pleasant, actually, but leaves are falling. The pink muhly is shining brightly with the sunshine today.

  9. Kris P says:

    Your garden looks beautiful in October! Thanks for the warning about fuzzy caterpillars – my immediate thought upon seeing your photo was that it looked perfect for petting.

    • fairegarden says:

      Thanks, Kris. October is usually gorgeous here, with the turning leaves adding to the late bloomers and waving grasses. Our first frost is normally at the end of this month, followed by more warm days and cool nights. As for the fuzzy catt, their sting hurts like the dickens!
      Frances

  10. Your garden is putting on a very pretty show this fall! I have been seeing a lot of fuzzy cats around my garden too…does this mean we will have an extra cold winter?

  11. fairegarden says:

    Hi Karin, thanks for visiting. A lot of fuzzy catts in your garden means you will have a bunch of moths in a short while! I predict, winter will be cold if it is normally cold where you live.
    Frances

  12. Lola says:

    Lovely pics. I love the way you tell the story of each. Keep up the great work.

  13. Carol says:

    Very pretty, Faire. Your garden is planted well for fall beauty!

  14. Carolyn says:

    Your October is simply divine… I’m a lover of Dahlias although they rarely survive our harsh winters. Love the changes you’ve made here… your header is dreamy.

    • fairegarden says:

      Thanks Carolyn. October is a good month in the garden here with the softer light and lower angle of the sun. Most folks dig their dahlias, but I am lucky with the drainage and location of the raised box for them to overwinter with me doing nothing. I am glad you like the new theme. The header may change with the seasons.

  15. bittster says:

    beautiful pictures, they really tell the story of fall.

  16. hi, Very nice blog:)
    I am a new gardner and a new blogger myself, check out me blog.

    http://seedgerminator.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/cabbage/

    Any suggestions and feedback will be appreciative.

    Hi Crazy Gardener, thanks and welcome to the blogdom. I did check out your blog. It looks like you are on the right track. Good luck with your endeavors.
    Frances

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