This month’s Garden Bloggers Design Workshop topic, sponsored by the talented group over at Gardening Gone Wild is . 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.