Sad To See Summer Go – Say Hello To Fall

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This month’s Garden Bloggers Design Workshop topic, sponsored by the talented group over at Gardening Gone Wild is The Fall Garden. This is a subject near and dear here at the Fairegarden. To be honest, every season is loved for the anticipation it brings for things not seen or experienced for a while. It is about change. There is something different in the light, in the air, in the soil. Softer light, cooler, drier air, and moist soil are all welcome. As are the volunteer morning glories that happily clambor up the Pyracantha along the chain link fence.

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The petals and blades are changing hues with the shortening days. One of the most useful ornamental grasses is Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica. This grass emerges with reddish brilliance in spring, fades a little in the heat of summer and begins the ascent into dormancy with a fiery flash. The New England aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae has been blooming for several months, but the blues are bluer and the flowers more numerous as the summer ebbs.

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Earliest fall sees the season of sedum star power. Sedum ‘Matrona’ makes a perfect mate for the blood grass and the few susans, Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ along with the silvery feathers of Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’, which comes to us by way of sweet Tina of In The Garden.

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Yet more blood grass enhances the bed beside the garage deck. A young ironweed, Vernonia spp., blooms at a reasonable height. This was a gift from offspring Chickenpoet, sold to her as pink milkweed. Once it bloomed the identity was verified as not a milkweed, but still a wonderful native plant. The Aronia melancarpa ‘Viking’ black berries are still hanging on while the white snakeroot, Ageratina altissima climbs to the sky just to the left of the ironweed, before unclasping its buds for insect delights.

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Back by Ferngully, the quickly deteriorating red maple carcass, is the land of the giants. Eupatorium ‘Gateway’ fronts Rudbeckia lanciniata with its golden discs. The tiny one gallon Cupressocyparis leylandii row has skyrocketed to screen the neighboring houses. A branch of sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum is trying to get our attention stage left.

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The season color barometer that is Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’ is signaling the change by turning from yellow to pink. In winter it will be a vivid red. Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’ lines this area, referred to as the heather bed for it once was home to over twenty heaths and heathers. Firefly will always remain, it is the epitome of four season interest in a shrub. The marigold cross of Queen Sophia and Tiger Eyes grows taller and produces more buds daily.

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Fall is about color. Deep rich velvety colors are everywhere in a riotous blend. Several varieties of Cupheas were added to a sunny spot by the garage after one stuck in the ground late last fall, a leftover when the containers were filled with violas and pansies for the season, survived a very cold winter to bloom again. My favorite nursery, Mouse Creek, run by the very knowledgeable Ruth Baumgardner grows a nice assortment of Cupheas from cuttings taken from the mother plants. Sold for an affordable price, even if they turn out to be annuals here, more will be added next year for the hummingbirds adore the trumpet flowers. The volunteer Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ sports red foliage and dark burgundy seed head sprays. I find the seed heads as attractive as the flowers. Perovskia leans into the shot.

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My container plantings never fail to disappoint, except the troughs which seem to manage their own plantings with deaths and seedlings. Here once again is the blood grass, jack of all trades and master of all. Heucheras and small sedums fill the trough while Gomphrenas puncuate white Veronica spicata ‘Icicle’ in a large concrete store bought planter.

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There was an experiment with dahlias this year that will be written about soon. A bright spot, literally, in that learning sequence is Dahlia ‘Gallery Cobra’. A mid summer feed and regular rains have brought a multitude of buds to these flowering machines.

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That same regular rainfall and moderate temperatures brings a fall flush of fresh rose petals. The group known as Hybrid musks are well represented here for their drought tolerance, insect and disease resistance and delicacy of bloom. This is Rosa ‘Penelope’.

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A fall bloomer whose essence is difficult to capture is the wild white aster, botanical name unknown, a Symphyo of some sort no doubt. This was considered a weed for years and pulled from garden beds ruthlessly. It is now looked upon kindly as the native treasure that it truly is. Still a little too prolific with the seeding but prized for the airy fairy dot flowers and open weave tall stature. No need to stake these, the stem is like a tree trunk.

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There are no tears as summer wanes here, for fall brings glories without peer as time moves ever forward. Let us not look back, but look to the future and the gifts it will bring.


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46 Responses to Sad To See Summer Go – Say Hello To Fall

  1. The combo of Sedum ‘Matrona’ and blood grass is stunning! Fall has always been my favorite season and becoming a crazy wild gardener hasn’t changed that. I always do a lot of planting/transplanting in fall and this year I have a TON of garden chess planned. It’s a little intimidating, but man will I be glad come spring that I did it!

    HA Monica, garden chess, I love it! We are always moving plants too, and the next year is the payoff. This is really the best time to do it since they are waning anyway. One doesn’t even notice the droopy leaves when there is so much color and wildness from the trees and shrubs. I can’t say enough good things about both Matrona and that blood grass. πŸ™‚

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your fall garden is gorgeous Frances. I like all of the grasses you have. I don’t have many grasses. They like all that sun you have to offer and I don’t. The blood grass is really pretty with the madrone.

    Hi Lisa, thanks so much. I think you need some grasses. The blood grass will grow in quite a bit of shade. It grows anywhere actually. πŸ™‚

  3. Darla says:

    We will be welcoming fall around here that’s for sure. I too, anticipate the changes of each season. I am loving that blood grass!! My youngest medium kid wants to do her science experiment on how music affects the growth of flowers…any ideas?

    Thanks Darla, fall is such a wonderful change. I love sweater weather. Music and flowers? All I know is that speaking or singing to your flowers is supposed to make them grow better. Something about the carbon dioxide from your breath. Or it might just be the extra attention you are giving them allows for quick weed removal and watering when needed too. πŸ™‚

  4. We had a wonderful summer this year in East Tennessee, didn’t we? Lots of rain (a few diseases too, but…). As Jean said, your garden is beautiful all year long! The blood grass is so nice, the color is very ‘fall’.

    Hi Gisele, yes we have. That extra rainfall has made my garden and me very happy. Not so much hose dragging! Thanks for those kind thoughts. Jean is always ready with a compliment. Much appreciated. The blood grass is the most versatile of plants. I love everything about it. πŸ™‚

  5. tina says:

    Your fall garden sure is beautiful. I too love the fall garden for its richness and fullness. Not even the spring garden can compare to that fullness. The weather this year has been awesome and I bet the fall colors will show this.

    Hi Tina, thanks. I agree, fall has a lushness that no other season can offer. When the trees start turning it is like a fireworks show too. Hoping for a good year with it. πŸ™‚

  6. Janet says:

    Your garden is very colorful in the fall. One of our Learning Gardens folks just got the Veronica ‘Icicles’ in her area….really a pretty bloom.

    Hi Janet, thanks. We have been adding things that offer fall interest for the last several years. Asters have been the standouts. Sedums are always good, as are the grasses. Hooray for Icicles, I just saw a hummingbird visiting it today! πŸ™‚

  7. Kanak says:

    I agree with the first comment..Jean’s…that your garden is lovely no matter what season. And your description of fall sounds wonderful. The combination of plants in your garden is mind-boggling. Long after I’m done with this comment, the most vivid and beautiful images of fall will keep haunting me….and isn’t that a lovely thought?

    You are so sweet, Kanak, thanks! We have diverse plantings, that’s for sure. My solution to all garden problems is to buy more plants. After many years of this, it is a virtual Noah’s Ark of plants. Then figuring out what goes best next to what will take the rest of my lifetime. There are worse ways to spend that time, eh? πŸ™‚

  8. Oh Frances, some more very lovely shots of your garden. When I was given 12 6″ pots of Japanese Blood Grass (free from work, yipee), I wasn’t sure what would work best with them. I have dark red lilys and some lavender, and it was lovely earlier in the season, but nothing now. Well, I am going to head out next weekend and move my Matrona, it looks delicious with the blood grass. Now, I just need a winnning combination for the spring and that garden vignette is finished.

    Wow Deborah, what a fine gift, all those grasses. If you already have Matrona then you are all set. It is a good match. In spring, the grape hyacinths and daffodils make nice companions to the blood grass. But really, it goes well with anything. Thanks for those kind words too. πŸ™‚

  9. Dave says:

    Nice pictures! It won’t be long now until the Muhley grass show begins. Right now our garden seems tired and ready to rest.

    Hi Dave, thanks. The muhly is just opening here. So exiting! You need some asters, my friend! πŸ™‚

  10. Frances β€” Still lots of color happening in your garden and your post is a nice addition to the GGW design challenge. What an elegant color combo on your garden shed.

    Hi Linda, thanks. We have worked hard to have stuff going on all year around. It is possible where we live, fortunately, many evergreen perennials to join the shrubs and trees. Red and yellow leaves really stand out in the winter landscape. The shed door was just painted that blue this year. I really like it too. Need to repaint the trim around the window. Always there are things that need doing. πŸ™‚

  11. Gail says:

    My dear friend, Your garden is a symphony of beautiful fall colors! More then any garden…yours has helped me appreciate the beauty of red in the autumn design. The bloodgrass is fantastic…I keep trying to get it established here! Cross fingers that this last attempt works! I agree~~the seed heads of the penstemons are marvelous! Any moment my cable will be shut off for repair, but not my phone! gail

    Hi Gail, thanks so much. Isn’t symphony a good word to help us remember the new aster names too? Hope you cable guy is quick with that repair. If your blood grass fails, we will just keep adding more in different spots until the happy place is found for it. πŸ™‚

  12. Rose says:

    The morning glory in your first photo just glows! I usually am excited about fall and the cooler temperatures, but our cool summer this year has made the transition very subtle. Thanks for the reminder that every season has its own beauty.

    Hi Rose, thanks. The morning glories are amazing when backlit. Well, everything is. There is so much beauty in every season, it makes my heart swell with happiness. πŸ™‚

  13. Lola says:

    Beautiful just beautiful. I love the Fall for all it’s abundant beauty. I think it shows off more than Spring. Love the Blood Grass.

    Thanks Lola. I agree, the colors of fall are so deep and rich and all around us. The sky is more blue, the air changes. Wonderful, ahhh. πŸ™‚

  14. Diana says:

    That blood grass is so pretty, and it really is trumpeting the arrival of Fall, isn’t it? Nothing says Fall to me than those particular colors in the garden. Sadly, it was 96 here yesterday and Fall is still far away!

    Hi Diana, thanks. I am so sorry for those temps. It is hard to fathom that kind of heat this late in the year. When we lived in Texas, I was quite a complainer about it too. πŸ™‚

  15. lotusleaf says:

    Hi Frances!Thanks for an interesting trip of your garden, which is looking lovlier than ever. I liked the blood grass very much.

    Hi Lotusleaf, thanks. The garden is revving up for the grand finale of the leaf changing season. I love it! πŸ™‚

  16. I also have learned to accept my Sympho-ny aster — it might be a willowleaf aster — which adds an airy touch to places where nothing else grows in one of the sunnier patches in my dry shade garden. You have a beautiful garden in any season, Frances.

    Thanks for that, Helen. The leaves do look like a willow leaf. I still will pull most of these out after they bloom, just like the goldenrods that are over ten feet tall. Accepting what will grow in the tough spots, as you say, is being a wise gardener. πŸ™‚

  17. Frances, has the blood grass wandered much? I have a pot sitting in my yard that I’ve yet to plant, because I’m trying to decide where best to put it so that if it does feel like wandering, it’s okay. Love its colour and learned from trying it once before that it wants good drainage.

    Hi Jodi, the only wandering the blood grass has done is with my help. I wish it would wander a little more freely to be honest. A small handful will grow to a respectable clump, but it has not run for me at all. Maybe with richer soil and more moister it would, like what you have. It goes completely dormant in winter and is sometimes slow to regrow in spring, but steadily increases. Backlit is best. πŸ™‚

  18. ourfriendben says:

    Ah Frances, your fall photos lift the heart! I love fall and wish it could just go on forever. Looking at your beautiful combinations brings (ironically) a preview of what fall will hold for us. Thank you!!!

    Hi OFB, thanks so much. I love heart lifting! I love the changes each season brings, a cycle that marks the march of time. Our dogwoods are already showing pinks and oranges. It seems early for that, but probably is right on schedule. πŸ™‚

  19. nancybond says:

    Such wonderful colour in your gardens, Frances! I don’t shed a tear to see Summer wave farewell, especially not this year. I embrace Autumn, and yes, even Winter, for the beauty they bring. Lovely post.

    Thanks Nancy. I think it is better to look forward than back. Fall and winter are full of beauty, we must open our eyes to it. Sounds like you have the vision. πŸ™‚

  20. easygardener says:

    Your garden is looking beautiful as always, whatever the season. Autumn has such wonderful colours. I love the Bloodgrass. It stands out wherever it is planted.

    Thanks EG. The colors of Autumn as always so refreshing after the brights of summer. The bloodgrass is a true garden star. πŸ™‚

  21. Beautiful photos, frances. I so agree with your last two sentences.

    Thanks Happy. I like to always look ahead, it is part of my organizing left brain at work. Anticipation is most delicious too, rather than making oneself sad thinking about water under the bridge. πŸ™‚

  22. VW says:

    Wait, it can’t feel like fall already in your southern garden! Well, maybe fall starts but just lasts a lot longer for you, while our fall quickly turns into winter. My son was sure he saw frost on our lawn yesterday, but the watermelon vines didn’t succumb, so maybe he was wrong.

    Frost, NO WAY, VW! I hope not anyway. We do have a very long fall, well into December most years. We will have a killing frost late October, then it will warm back up. Our leaves are not all off the trees until late November. The temps flucuate so, it is hard to know what season it is. The dogwoods are turning and the cherry tree has already dropped every leaf. Drought stress for it, sadly. I hope your winter doesn’t begin too early for that watermelon! πŸ™‚

  23. Joanne says:

    I love the Morning Glory so would like to dive in. There is so much interesting Autumn colour in your garden. Mine is looking a bit tired in places at present.

    Hi Joanne, be my guest. Those dark morning glories are really enticing. Remember, I am not showing the whole garden in these shots. There are some tired spots here too, my eyes glaze over them until they come to rest on something pleasing. πŸ™‚

  24. I love fall gardens, and yours is just bursting with color. I’m looking forward to the show in my garden too, although it has already started with the plants formerly known as Asters. I once took a course and learned to distinguish the different Aster species from one another, but all I can say is what your white Aster-thingy is not. In any event, it is a pretty wild thing.

    Hi MMD, thanks. It did look like yours was well on its way too. I can take the aster name change, but the mums are harder for me to accept as Dendrathemas, just no pleasant ring to that name. I was looking at all the large white similar asters here and found some differences in branching and leaves. I need your expertise, left or right brain welcomed! πŸ™‚

  25. Les says:

    I love the colors in the Rudbeckia and Eupatorium shot. I never would have thought that the bright yellow and the mauve would gel, but maybe the grays from the Leylands pull it all together.

    Hi Les, thanks. That is one of the most pleasing combinations in our garden. They were put together because of the height issue, but became fast friends. πŸ™‚

  26. Jean says:

    Oh, everything looks so beautiful Frances. I kick myself for not calling you on our way back from Maine for I would so love to see all of that beauty in person. Anyway, fall is really my favorite time of year. The light, the crispness, the respite. I’m waiting for that cool air though!

    Hi Jean, thanks. I do wish you had stopped by and was disappointed when you were already back home. I could have loaded you up with plants! We are waiting for cool too, but the night temps are dropping into the 60s now. Great to work in the early morning, except that we are back to waiting for the sun to come up. πŸ™‚

  27. Catherine says:

    I can see why there are no tears, it just gets prettier and prettier there! I love all the color in your garden now, that blood grass is something I’ve been seeing around and just love. Thanks for the great pictures and inspiration.

    Hi Catherine, thanks. The blood grass is a major contributor to the color palette for three seasons here. You need some! πŸ™‚

  28. Pam/Digging says:

    I love, love, love your blood grass, Frances. It seems to go with everything. I enjoyed all your lovely early-fall pictures. BTW, you’re going to OWN that GGW photo contest with a picture of Gulf muhlies in bloom. Can’t wait to see which one you pick.

    Hi Pam, thanks. The blood grass is a major player here and while easy to divide and replant has not been a thug in any way. The height is perfect for front of the border, along the wall, and in containers. Funny you should mention the muhly for the photo contest. I have been looking at the shots from last year and none really jump out with that sense of movement that Nan is looking for. Your Nasella was spot on! πŸ™‚

  29. Hi Frances

    That blood grass looks terrific with the sedums!

    The autumn light must present you with some of the best photo opportunities.

    I’m curious, is your soil lime or acid, it’s just your roses look so healthy?

    Hi Rob, thanks. The autumn light is the best light of the year, that and earliest spring. When the sun dips to the slant of fall, the whole hill is backlit. A real showplace for red foliage and pink grasses like the muhly. Our soil is acid. Don’t be fooled by that macro of the rose, the plant as a whole looks very sad. The knockouts look terrific as we head into winter with red leaves and new flushes of flowers though. The other roses are not that attractive. πŸ™‚

  30. lynnsgarden says:

    Hi Frances! For some reason, it’s taken way too long for your blog to download for me the last couple visits…I left to make a pot of coffee and 5 minutes later, it’s still loading photos..strange! I’m adding blood grass to my garden next year..they are beautiful! Last year, you inspired me to plant the pretty muhli grass (with the airy purple plumes). Finally making progress on all my weeding…fun now starts with deciding which new mums to plants…yippee! Thanks for the hypertufa post..I’m bookmarking it for future project πŸ˜‰ Thanks for visiting and leaving your sweet comments πŸ˜‰

    Hi Lynn, sorry you had trouble with the load. Who knows what causes this sort of thing, not me, that’s for sure! When there is a problem like that, I would go to another site and come back later. I am excited about your muhly grass, our is just beginning to open now. Blood grass is a fabulous addition to any garden too. As for the weeds, they will always wait for you. Like the dust bunnies inside. πŸ™‚

  31. Carol says:

    Your fall is certainly smashing Frances… gorgeous blooms and as always your photos are stunning. It must be so pleasant with the cooler weather there… to enjoy the gardens. Lucky you … your fall is long and will not lead into a chilling to the bone winter. Not meaning to put the winter down… as it can be so beautiful and a great time to paint.

    Hi Carol, thanks. It is still in the 80s here during the day, but the air is drier and the sun less intense. The evenings and early mornings are in the 60s, very nice to be out in the garden then. Our fall is long, our spring is short. How wonderful that you can paint, I so admire that talent! πŸ™‚

    • Carol says:

      Frances I just had to come back today… to say thank you for your very kind comment. I am so glad I did for I took a second look at your first shot of that dazzling morning glory… gosh … the light coming from its center is other worldly luminous! What an amazing photo. Brava!

      I am so glad you came back too, Carol. Your post took me to another level of consciousness. The picture postcard images and the narrative were sublime. There are not enough words to tell you how much I enjoyed your post. Thanks too for your nice compliments. πŸ™‚

  32. Lottie says:

    The first picture is absolutely stunning – what a wonderful colour.

    Thanks Charlotte, I love those dark morning glories too. πŸ™‚

  33. Mary Delle says:

    Lovely photos. You should definitely enter some in the GGW contest. The colors combinations are lovely.

    Hi Mary, thanks and welcome. I am still thinking about this months challenge and going through the files.

  34. Kathleen says:

    Great parting words of advice Frances. I am one of those people who need to heed them ~ I always lament the passage of summer and stay in a state of denial for as long as I possibly can! Your fall garden is glorious just as it is every season.

    Hi Kathleen, thanks. I wrote this post after seeing so many postings about how sad it was that summer was ending. I was trying to give some inspiration for the beauty that fall has to offer, not just leaf changing but the late blooming plants too like grasses, asters and mums. Still lots to look forward to! πŸ™‚

  35. GREAT morning glory photo, and mg climbing on pyracantha – delicious! As always, I’m coming away from your blog full of new ideas. You make a great case for blood grass, and I was glad to pick up some cultivation details from your comments.

    Hi Pomona, thanks. Someone must have planted morning glories back by that fence long ago. We have assorted volunteers every year, a good variety of colors. I like those darkest blue ones the best. The blood grass is so useful and stays short, unlike some of the other ornamental grasses. I have stuck it in every situation here and it does well in sun or shade or containers. We don’t have wet here so I don’t know about that though. The color is unbeatable! πŸ™‚

  36. Racquel says:

    A great way to say farewell to one season and welcome to the next. πŸ˜‰ That Japanese Bloodgrass looks like it’s on fire right now in your garden. I wanted to plant that in my garden but they say it’s invasive here. 😦

    Hi Racquel, thanks. I am so sorry to hear that about the blood grass. It is not at all a problem here. Maybe you could have it in a container? πŸ™‚

  37. Hello Frances, thanks for visiting my blog… IΒ΄ll learn a lot from the beautiful and awsome garden you have (excuse my english, please). I love your images, they are so big!
    MarΓ­a Cecilia

    Hi Maria, it was my pleasure to visit. Your English is very good too. Thanks for those kind words. πŸ™‚

  38. Painchaud says:

    Great pictures….this year I am sad to see summer go so soon… but I need fall for the leaves for my compost =)

    Thanks PainChaud and welcome. Leaves make great compost, don’t they? We don’t have a lot of leaves here, but the ones that we can gather are lovingly chopped and spread about on the neediest areas. πŸ™‚

  39. Jen says:

    There is so much to see here – hard to believe it’s all in the same garden. So worth waiting for!

    Hi Jen, thanks. The garden has lots of diversity, it’s true. Being a plant collector and wanting to try everything we see over the years makes for a real hodge podge of growing things. πŸ™‚

  40. Your photos are stunning as usual, I love visiting your blog. Japanese Bloodgrass is a favorite of mine & you’ve inspired me to use more of it!

    Thanks Linda. I am so glad you enjoy your visits, music to my ears! We started with one pot of the bloodgrass and divided it as small as one blade per plant. It will grow into a nice but mannerly clump in a short time and can be transplanted any time during the growing season. That is a great attribute! πŸ™‚

  41. What a stunning post Frances. I think this time between summer and autumn is magical. Everything is kind of calm in the garden, a bit melancholy in a positive way. I call it Chillout-time in the garden. Do you understand what I mean? Have a great weekend Frances/ Tyra

    Thanks Tyra. I agree completely, this between time is full of mystery and promise until the big bang of the leaf color changing time. You too have a wonderful weekend. πŸ™‚

  42. Sweet Bay says:

    Beautiful picture of Grandpa Ott — the center looks incandescent. I love your Penelope rose! And your Muhly has started blooming, always a cause for celebration. I think it’s the most beautiful grass.

    Thanks for the ID, Sweet Bay. Fall brings some of the prettiest blooms on the roses, untouched by those pesky insects. The muhly is coming along too. So exciting! πŸ™‚

  43. hayefield says:

    Oh my, Frances – what can I add to what the others have said? Your troughs, your combos, your glorious grasses – you really know how to celebrate our favorite season with style! I was delighted to see that you too leave space for LWAs (little white asters). I pull various sorts out by the wagonload well into summer, but I always miss a few, and I’m always glad I did when they sparkle into bloom around this time. Happy fall to all at Fairegarden!

    Hi Nan, thanks so much for those glowing words! We do love fall as much as you, with the delights of foliage, grasses and late bloomers. Then there is that glorious light. The little white asters grow so large, most have to be pulled, but there are always young ones popping up all over for next year’s show. Happy fall to you as well. πŸ™‚

  44. Pingback: GBDW – The Garden in Fall Wrap-Up

  45. Alice Joyce says:

    Delectable views of your enchanting landscape!! If this is Fall, bring it on, I say. That Eupatorium caught my eye – Would look great partnered in my garden with E. ‘Chocolate’…. wish I were closer so we could trade divisions ;~D

    Thanks Alice. Fall is luscious here in southeast TN, long lasting and colorful. If you are ever near here, do contact me and I will load you up with plants. I am not sure about getting them into CA though, they used to be quite strict about that. πŸ™‚

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