Even though fall is rushing onwards towards winter entirely too quickly in the opinion of some people, including yours truly, there are new flowers pushing forth. What could they be thinking, if flowers can think that is, inquiring minds want to know? First up is Anemone hupehensis Praecox’. This is a rowdy fellow and the decision was made to nip him back a bit early this summer. After the nipping, a voracious attack by hungry grasshoppers decimated the foliage as it was trying to regrow. It was feared that the flowers would be lost for the year, but cooler temps have brought it roaring to life with the absence of the villainous insects. It will be shorter in stature and later in bloom time, both desirable outcomes. This is the first flower, let us hope for more to come.
New this year is the spring blooming, I thought, Zizia aurea, the native Golden Alexanders. This is a moisture loving native that has presented a fall surprise of reblooming. Perhaps it thinks spring has sprung? It was first seen at the Lurie garden during the 2009 Blogger Meetup in Chicago. We were tickled to find it for sale locally, actually dug up near the namesake Mouse Creek on their property. We have no creek, Mouse or otherwise, and it has been bone dry all summer in the Fairegarden. It was feared that this plant would perish on our steep well drained slope. Nope.
No purchase necessary for the native wild ageratum, Conoclinium coelestinum. It was already growing here when we bought the property. Spreading by runners and seeds, the violet blue flowers on snaking stems weave through all neighbors, but in a polite manner. This color is welcome with the red and golds of the dogwood fall foliage, among others.
Seeds were sown in the greenhouse during the winter of 2008-2009 of Cuphea miniata ‘Summer Medley’. The young plants were set out much too early in spring and were zapped by a late frost. Happily they made a comeback and bloomed well all summer into fall. Better late than never, and without knowing if these are volunteer seedlings or the original plant, the fuzzy blooms are adding to the ambiance of the Gravel Garden.
Another perennial Salvia that has suffered from the lack of precipitation here and that has finally decided to grace the garden with the Paul Newman blue blooms is S. guaranitica ‘Argentine Skies’. Many members of the Salvia clan are late to reach full potential it seems.
Included in the seed swap sponsored by friend Monica of Garden Faerie’s Musings was Zinnia tenuifolia ‘Red Spider’. Seeds will be saved for the future. These small flowers have been photographed for several months with no success in capturing their sweet allure. It is now or never for them to be featured on the blog, but please excuse the clarity. The sprawling mini zinnias cast a spell over the camera whenever it is pointing their way, changing focus and shutter speed. Sneaky. And please note their yellow forked tongues.
The tall Salvia splendens ‘Van Houttei’ has performed poorly. Try saying that three times quickly! This is a superior member of the splendens group that includes a shorter red variety that is often seen planted in public parks ringed with bright yellow marigolds to the dismay of the taste police. Maybe it too is a late bloomer, or perhaps the lack of rainfall has held it back. Hummingbirds adore it in either case.
The first bloom of the only over wintering Dahlia ‘Gallery Cobra’ remains gorgeosus beautiful. There are more buds swelling, we hope they can open before being struck down by a hard freeze. This might be one case where covering is called for to protect the innocent.
Speaking of innocents, this could be, should be, but might not get to be a Black Swallowtail Butterfly, caterpillar was found hanging onto a denuded stalk of bronze fennel. There are no leaves on the plant, the stems are brown and the weather is chilly if not downright cold. We hope this fellow can read the tea leaves and get to cover quickly. Maybe he needs a little free transportation to the still leafy parsley plant in the raised box planter. Done. May he live long and prosper.