This mid October Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, (thanks Carol of May Dreams!) finds the Fairegarden is full of things that would like to be shared. First off is the idea that color can only come from flowers. Wrong! Foliage is a much longer lasting painterly touch of bright hues out of doors, some lasting the year around, like our favorite heather, Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’. It is even a living thermometer of sorts, turning red in the cold and bright golden yellow in the warmer months. The best time is the transition period in spring and fall when both colors shine brightly.
Every plant, every flower has a story waiting to be told. Like the new this year seed started in the sunroom/greenhouse pink forget me not, Cynoglossom amabile ‘Mystery Rose’. This was one of those impulse purchases, as so many seed orders are, that confound reason. Why this was added to the order is a complete mystery, maybe that is why this is so named. A biennial as are most forget me nots, the few flowering plants produced were left to self sow and have given a nice patch of babies to be moved to desirable areas over the cooler months. Most bloomed in late spring, but this one decided to bloom perhaps spurred on by the recent rainy cooler weather. To continue the theme of colorful foliage, the Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica makes the point quite well. It will go dormant in November and return with renewed vigor in April, just in time to help hide dying bulb foliage.
Like the family of Salvias, who experienced a population explosion this year. Diligent study of every plant on offer at our beloved Mouse Creek Nursery found a treasure trove of sages. There will be a post, or more than one of them about the Salvias during the down time of mid winter. Some are very late bloomers, barely going floral before the first frost, like this three foot tall rosebud sage, S. involucrata bethellii. The common name comes from the resemblance of the bud to a rosebud before opening to the familiar trumpet shaped Salvia bloom. The stems are reddish and the leaf veining slightly so. The tag read “Pink Beth” and it may not be hardy, but there is always hope.
Likewise the Cupheas that were added after the one from last year staged a comeback. Again Mouse Creek was offering a nice array of these interesting plants, sold as annuals in small and affordable pots. They have all done very well with the featured bat faced cuphea, Cuphea llavea being the showiest. There will be a mid winter post about these. The hardiness is questionable but the visiting hummingbirds, butterflies and bees have requested a steady supply be added each year. Will do. Visible at the bottom left of the above image is another evergreen grass type plant that offers color, a subdued bronze, the entire year, Carex buchananii. The cultivar name is not known, so many have been added to the gardens here and many have sprouted in the gravel the ancestry is untraceable.
Lessons were learned about Dahlias. While the double or multipetaled flowers are lovely, the singles have been quite hardy to return year after year. They are also preferred by the pollinators, including the hummers, so new additions will need to be of the single type.
Both the yellow and this red were grown from seeds of D. ‘Bishop’s Children’. More seeds have been ordered. A lesson learned is that these are heavy feeders and require extra applications of the timed release granules to continue blooming into fall. The cooler months of fall see the best performance, with those nasty harlequin bugs gone or asleep. Those insects were a huge problem this year on many plants and will be squished as soon as we see them next time. It was not realized what bad guys they were until the entire ornamental kale crop was destroyed while we were on vacation. Next they moved to the dahlias but the gardener was by then on high alert. Grrrr.
Stalwart friends like Thorny, Rosa ‘Grootendorst Supreme’ continue to thrive. The bloom time for this rugosa is nearly all year. He resides in the middle streetside bed and has not been pruned in a few years. At this point the clippers cannot even get close to the thorny branches so he is allowed to run wild and free.
In the same bed as Thorny are several wildflowers like asters and goldenrod that just appear by themselves to join the liriope, daylilies and the black seeded Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Moudry’. Don’t plant this grass, no matter how appealing it may be, even if someone tries to give it to you for free, or offers to pay you to take it. There are mounds of it growing directly in the asphalt street that get run over regularly by cars and trucks without harm that originated from the promiscuous seed throwing efforts of one purchased plant. It does look attractive in fall and winter, particularly covered in hoarfrost. The burgundy grocer’s mum bravely throws up a few flowers each year, nothing like those huge mounds that can be had for a pittance offered on every corner though.
Do plant this grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris, if it is hardy in your area. Let’s create so much demand for this grass that it will be the Endless Summer of grasses, sold by the truck loads to nurseries and big box stores, available to all. Why this is not already the case defies all logical thought. For those interested in such things, the nearly bare stems that are waving hello to the muhly are Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’.
The search continues for the perfect flowering companion that will bloom before and during the big show without detracting. Lantana is a good choice, beloved by pollinators, but not this orangey one. It might be called citrus something, the name was not written down.
Lantana is an annual here but readily available in many colorways. L. camara ‘Irene’ would have been a better mate for the muhly and will be placed in that prime location next year. There are four plants of Irene around the weeping blue atlas cedar behind the mailbox. There should have been six plants to fill this space.
Some familiar faces have just now come onto the scene, like Crocus speciousus. The fall blooming crocus add delightful lavender color to the duskier colors of turning fall foliage. The saffron crocus, C. sativus is just barely peaking up out of the ground, quite later than last year. It was feared it was gone, eaten by vicious hungry voles that are terrorizing the gardens, but no, it is just late. Last year we had already harvested the good bits and written about it here. Whether another post will be published this time around will be determined by the weather, image quality and harvest.
And Camellia sasanqua ‘Chansonette’. It was startling to find these blooming so early. No wonder it was assumed that they just weren’t blooming well under the cover of the tall pine trees and surrounded by the ever larger growing Viburnum x rhytidophylloides ‘Alleghaney’ shrubs sharing the space. The blooms had already come and gone when the search for them was conducted in November to December. Those Viburnums are going to need some pruning to give the Camellias a fighting chance at flowering. The image was taken with the flash, for that area is quite dark even on those recently rare sunny days.
New flats of violas have been added for new genetic material and fall to spring color. The gene pool of the knot garden gravel self sown violas that have a yearly beauty pageant in May will include some colorways of this flat of V. ‘Antique Shades’, it is hoped. Other colors have been added to containers to liven things up. These fall planteds will have gigantic root systems come spring and be able to bloom happily amidst the bulbs, if the squirrels can be kept from digging them up. Forts of rosemary twigs around the plants seems the best method of defense.
Faithfully returning wildlings shine in the fall. The morning glories on the large hedge of Pyracantha have put on the best show in several years. Two factors may have influenced this, the severe pruning of the hedge mid summer that allowed more light to hit the seed laden soil beneath and excessive rainfall.
The wonders of one little Cobaea scandens seed that has covered the large arbor with vines and flowers offers a comparison of images, this photo by the old camera, Canon powershot A720 IS…
…this one by the new camera, Canon powershot sx1 IS. What do you think, which is the better capture? I have already decided but would be interested in your take on them.
These orchids were shown last month on bloom day in bud.
They have now opened. Starr Wars, Paphiopedilum (Starr Warr x Maudiae) ‘Pisgah’ x Paph. Dark Spell ‘Wolf Lake’ above, and Raven, Paphiopedilum Raven ‘Forever More’ x Paph. curtisii ‘Imperial Purple’ shown first.
These special few, Paphiopedilums and three Cattleyas, in bloom is Pumpkin, Cattleya Slc. (Pumpkin Festival ‘Fong Yuen’ x Naomi Kerps ‘Fireball’) are safely ensconced after being cleansed of bugs and other bad things with the dip of death. Not all the orchids were brought inside to the greenhouse/sunroom however. There were some tough choices made in order to have more space for seed starting with the heat mats and grow lights and propagation attempts with cuttings from tender mother plants like the gold leaved Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’. It is time to move onward, as ever.
Today is Blog Action Day, recognizing that climate change is real and happening right now. “When you ask what you as one person can do to make a difference, the answer is quite simple. Plant a tree, minimize the lawn in your landscape, design a garden with drought resistant plants (if you live in an area that is lacking in water) and stop using all chemicals in your landscape. Addressing even one of these issues will have a positive effect on the environment.”, so says Frannie Sorin of Gardening Gone Wild. I could not say it better myself and urge all to follow these simple steps.