The turning of the calender page to October has us in a mood, a mood of reflection and observance. We began the mood here_In The Mood, and so it continues. The hypertufa pot studded with flower arranging marbles, once used as home decor for a fighting fish without an opponent, houses a broken glass ball that once floated on the pond. The low growing Sedum ‘Lemon Coral’ and Calluna vulgaris ‘Multicolor’ remain the same throughout the year. Our mood does not.
The Eastern Wahoo, Euonymus atropurpurea is changing daily. It is ignored during the growing season with its nondescript green leaves. The mood changes towards it as the berries color up and the leaves turn. This was given to us, even planted with a large bucket of his very fine compost, by my neighbor Mickey several years ago. He did not know the name and there were several mistakes made in identification until the true identity was revealed. I am glad it is a native here, although it would have been accepted in any case.
Salvias come into their own in this darkening season. They seem to love the conditions as their comrades around them give up the ghost of crisp freshness, shining like stars in the lowering light. The yellow flowers of S. koyamae have become more noticeable as the plantings around it fade. Reading up on it, we find that it loves shade. It is situated in a sunny position at the moment, but is under a deciduous azalea that, as it grows larger should provide a respite from the harsh summer sun. Hang in there, my yellow friend! Time is on your side.
More sun loving are the S. coccinea seedlings that appear only in the gravel paths, never in the flower beds. Each year they are lifted and transplanted into designated areas for the fall color they so obligingly provide. But they do best when moved as younguns, before the calyx color is revealed. We have been selecting for the black petal covering over the years, but some of these are green. The stiff seedheads of the native weed, oops make that beloved wildflower, Prunella vulgaris illustrate the juxtaposition of birth and death going on now. The flower color always confuses the camera, blending into a scarlet veil of mystery.
The variegation of the Salvia greggii ‘Desert Blaze’ is delightful but it seems to be reverting back to green. It has been noted that the green is more hardy, so maybe that is a good thing. It is planted in the metal toolbox cum planter next to the hypertufa birdbath that sports the hypertufa ball on a butter dish formed hypertufa pedestal. (For info on making the ball click here-How To Make Hypertufa Balls.) Usually the S. greggiis will survive our zone 7 wet winters, but container planting will lower the temps a full zone in most cases. We will hope for the best but expect the worst.
The Coleus have had a banner year in containers, the best ever. Their days are numbered as the large multicolored leaves are most susceptible to frost and will burn to black in a blink. Replacements of violas, kale and dianthus are at the ready, but we haven’t the heart to pull still healthy plants for the compost. The weather gods will take care of that soon and we will not shed a tear for the loss. It is time. The hue of S. greggii ‘Rose Queen’ blends well with the Muhlenbergia capillaris pink fizz at the top of the steep hillside.
Standing straight and erect against the soft and flowing Japanese blood grass is Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’. The winding down of the flowering season is well represented by the Aster clan. The daisy like flowers of these late to bloom sentinels will last well after many frosts, untarnished by the ice crystals that will form. Ice. The word sends shivers down to Midnight Blue painted tootsie tips.
But we are not there yet. Moments of perfectly slanted light offer jewels of color in the garden still. Dreariness has grazed the skin but has not yet shot through to the heart of the garden. As inevitable as the changes in the garden to come, the mood rises and falls with sun.