October Bloom Day-Blog Action Day 2010

Welcome to the first Garden Bloggers Bloom Day of fall 2010 (thanks, Carol)! Things are a’changin’ around here, big time. But there are still flowers flowering, some for the first time ever, some that have been above and beyond reliable for providing the welcome colors. Mexican Sunflower, Tithonia rotundifolia, grown from seeds shared by good friend Laurie, is just now blooming. Too much shade, poor soil fertility and no water have made these normally stout hearted plantings a mere shadow of what they could be. Having seen them growing to six feet tall and long blooming in Laurie’s and offspring Chickenpoet’s gardens, seeds shared with her as well, mine are suffering from very low self esteem. But the flowers are amazing, and still welcome, late and puny though they be.

The aster family can always be relied upon to deliver even with lack of rain. A. oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ packs the most blooms into the least space of any of them. It can be, make that is floppy and needs some assistance to stand up and not cover its neighbors, but the color is indeed the color of a clear, sunny October sky.

October Skies was chosen last year to be the consort at the end of the pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capilllaris along the driveway. The bloom time should be the same, although the aster is somewhat ahead of the muhly this year. It is hoped that it can remain the delightful blue when the muhly finally decides to reach peak bloom. It is getting there, but still has a ways to go yet for the maximum pink frothiness to shine. We will keep you posted on that event, no need to worry your pretty little heads, dear readers.

Opposite the aster/muhly combo at the gravel path entrance to the back gardens sits the metal wheelbarrow planter. Some summer annuals have been removed and replaced with these red daisy type mums. I am generally opposed to the gaudy mums on offer at every venue this time of year as unnatural looking, but these won my heart and do look good. They will be planted in the ground after their time has passed. Most of these do not make it through the winter, only the super hardy Korean types do well at that, but it is worth a try anyway. It had been hoped that the Sheffield Pink mums, which are very reliable at returning would be blooming for this bloom day event, but alas, they are still in pretty bud stage.

Saved seeds of marigold crosses Queen Sophia and Tiger Eye are slightly different each year. These too are just now coming into flower. The Sulphur butterfly is happy about that.

One zinnia from a mixed packet germinated and grew. It appears to be a cactus flowering type. These different colors are all from that one plant, at various stages. There is a seedhead at the lower middle of the shot that will be has been scooped up and saved for next year’s blooms.

Another fall aster, this one A. tataricus ‘Jindai’ has proven to be able to stand up straight and tall without help. More have been added, as this erectness is highly desirable. The Salvia splendens ‘Van Houttei’ looks happy to be a companion. If you are looking for blue flowered asters to add to your gardens, you won’t be sorry with October Skies and Jindai. You heard it here.

Another late blooming sage, Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’ is showing the warm season flowers how to exit with a grand finale worth staying in your seats until the very last moment to savor. The leaves have the delicious pineapple scent with the bonus of brilliant yellow hues that glow in the low light of fall. On an overcast day, the sight of it takes your breath away.

In the same planter as the previous shot, the Nasturtium ‘Yeti’ have been non-stop with flowers. It appears there was a rogue seed in the packet. I love the orangey rebel in the lot! Never before have the nashies done so well, in any Fairegarden, beginning in 1974 at our first house. Can it be duplicated next year, she wonders?

Up in the knot garden, the lavender is sending up a lone new flower. This area has not been watered even once and some of the plantings are sad about that. There will be a revitalization project done on the lavender ring in the center quatrefoil this winter, with heeled cuttings stuck into the earth to replace the dead bits.

Lack of rainfall has affected the roses considerably. Scant blooms make the few that appear prized even more. Hybrid musk Rosa ‘Penelope’ is my favorite color of rose, palest apricot. Raindrops make the vision even more rare.

Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all. The topic this year is about water.

Right now, almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s one in eight of us who are subject to preventable disease and even death because of something that many of us take for granted. Access to clean water is not just a human rights issue. It’s an environmental issue. An animal welfare issue. A sustainability issue. Water is a global issue, and it affects all of us.

What can we do to help? In addition to signing the petition, found by clicking on the link below to show the United Nations that people care about making clean water accessible to all, we can be frugal with our own water use. At the Fairegarden that includes being aware of water running at all times. In the laundry, by only doing full loads, wearing or using clothing and towels until they are truly dirty. A towel can be reused if hung to dry rather than leaving it in a heap on the floor. Gardening clothes are only going to get soiled again, allow them to hang and dry out for reuse as well. Right now we are washing the dishes by hand because the dishwasher is not living up to expectations. I am careful about letting the water run while rinsing. The dishwasher makes a fine, if expensive drying rack for the clean dishes.

In the garden, the only things watered are containers, when needed, and newly planteds. Water saved from the kitchen in a designated pitcher is used to water the trough container on the covered front porch. A rain barrel attached to the gutter collects chemical free water that is saved in milk jugs for the orchids and other needy plants. The rest of the garden has to fend for itself, and in drought years such as 2010, there will be some deaths. Replacements need to be xeric and/or natives. We have noticed that the roadside wildflowers, trees and shrubs are doing just fine without human watering. Take note and plant accordingly. These are just a few ideas we have incorporated into the Fairegarden lifestyle. All can find ways to help save this precious commodity that is too often taken for granted.

Blog Action Day 2010: Water


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33 Responses to October Bloom Day-Blog Action Day 2010

  1. Mary Silvia says:

    Excellent insight as always…..Mary in New England

    Thanks Mary. πŸ™‚

  2. Carol says:

    Thanks for joining in for bloom day, and for the combo post. Beautiful blooms, as always, and good ideas for conserving water in and around the garden.

    Hi Carol, thanks. Water is important, and raising awareness about it in homes and gardens, especially during drought years seems the right thing to do.

  3. Beautiful photos as ever! I really like your Muhly/aster combo, likewise ‘Penelope’ and the salvia. And thank you for reminding me that I really must grow Tithonia rotunidfolia next year, I didn’t get round to sowing seed this year, and am missing out. I certainly get plenty of rain in my garden! Good tips on water usage too.

    Hi Janet, thanks. Lucky you on plenty of rain! Your Tithonia should grow to the sky with that, and some good garden soil. πŸ™‚

  4. Sylvia (England) says:

    Lovely post Frances. My asters (or ex-asters) are looking good this year, possibly because they were divided in spring. My Nasturtium are much better this year, I sowed the seed in late August and they haven’t been covered in blackfly. I must remember to put some more in the same time next year as they are really colourful this time of the year.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Hi Sylvia, thanks. I haven’t tried to divide these new asters, but would love to have great drifts of them. Maybe next spring? Interesting time to sow the nasturtiums, ours were sown in early April, with coffee grounds sprinkled around them to deter the snails. I have seen aphids on them in other years, but not this one. Perhaps the coffee deterred the farming ants. We have never had the success before that Yeti has been. Will certainly grow it again. πŸ™‚

  5. Eileen says:

    Hi Frances, I grew the Mexican Sunflower several years ago. It was like a beautiful bush, should give it another try next year. My nasturtiums did not do well in the heat this summer, just beginning to look good now. Yours are lovely.


    Hi Eileen, thanks. A beautiful bush of the Tithonia sounds delightful, I bet the hummers and butterflies loved it! There was something different about the success of these Yeti nasturtiums, I will try for a repeat next year! πŸ™‚

  6. James Golden says:

    Love your asters. My camera just doesn’t seem to photograph blue. Your’s does! Envy you salvia too, which I can’t grow in my mud.

    Hi James, thanks so much. The photos still do not portray the actual color or beauty of October Skies, they are so much more blue than that. We only have mud here in the winter, but it does allow for the xerics to shine. I just have to adjust my attitude as to what I want to grow here to meet those conditions. I am working on it. πŸ™‚

  7. Frances my tithonia were tiny too and not a single bloom. They were planted in the roadside vegetable garden and should have gotten huge. Can’t believe your Sheffie Mums are still in bud not bloom. Mine are on the opposite side of peak now. Did you happen to see the Mountain Xpress today? News about your youngest and wife on the web edition.

    Thanks for that, Christopher! http://www.mountainx.com/news/2010/the_hop_opens_second_location
    That is weird about your Tithonia, it should indeed have been a monster. Wonder what is up? Our muhly and sheffies are both super late. They just are being very hesitant to open, although one muhly batch by the shed has been wide open for weeks. I just don’t know what is going on with them, but they WILL open one of these days.

  8. As always, Frances, you never disappoint. The muhly and asters are a great combo. I like how they form drifts. Your wet roses look mighty happy now. I just learn about the water post for yesterday, actually yesterday. Hope to join next time.

    Hi Donna, thanks. The large drift of muhly, the first and only one note wonder here, has been a great success. If only I could force myself to plant like that elsewhere. I want to grow everything though, that is hard to work into the design. If you sign up for the blog action day, they will send you many many emails about it to remind you next year, although you could still join in for 2010. πŸ™‚

  9. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Frances, you have quite a bit of color in the garden despite the drought. Water conservation is no doubt foremost in your thoughts right now. It is scary dry here too.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. It is very colorful here with the large drifts of red blood grass backlit, plus the asters and fall foliage stuff. We will be bright and full of colors until December, when it turns to mostly grey and brown. Gotta keep adding those colorful evergreens! As for the dryness, we are planning for it to continue and adjusting the plantings accordingly. It’s the only thing we can do. There are plants that can cope and look pretty, like the asters.

  10. Valerie says:

    Enjoyed your post Frances. I love your Muhly grass. I looked it up and it will not survive Cdn Zone 4B. Preserving our precious water sources is very important. I have two water barrels for the garden plants and conserve water indoors.

    Hi Valerie, thanks so much. You would have to grow the muhly as an annual, it is true. The water/rain barrels are a smart way to help with water conservation. They are inexpensive and work well, something most people could set up. πŸ™‚

  11. Excellent post Frances! Lovely blooms, photos and great suggestions for conserving water. ;>)

    Hi Carol, thanks so much. I think gardening and water saving go hand in hand, especially with the droughts we are experiencing more and more frequently.

  12. Wendy says:

    looks like a beautiful landscape! I love love love that photo in your header by the way! How stunning.

    Hi Wendy, thanks and welcome. The cedar waxwing shot was a once in a lifetime event. Click the link at the top of my sidebar to read how it came to be. πŸ™‚

  13. A Garden of Threads says:

    Wonderful post, your water-wise section was great. I will be looking for the October Skies aster, love that colour of blue in the garden.

    Hi Jennifer, thanks. October Skies is outperforming all other plants at the moment. Do look for it! πŸ™‚

  14. I have to add Symphyotrichum laeve ‘Bluebird’ to your list of great blue asters. I like it better than ‘October Skies’ and A. tataricus. So do the bees.

    Hi MMD, thanks for mentioning Bluebird. We do already have it growing here and it is indeed lovely. It blooms earlier than October Skies and is nearly done. As nice as Bluebird is, October Skies and Jindai do much better in my garden conditions. The bees don’t seem to have a preference! πŸ™‚

  15. Dave Lucas says:

    Your photos are INCREDIBLE! People need to come together on this important issue! Here’s a link to my article about water. Thanks for helping us spread the word!

    Hi Dave, thanks. I was happy to join in with other bloggers to raise awareness about this important issue.

  16. Can’t believe how much is blooming in your garden! You’re the third blogger to praise ‘October Skies’ so I am adding it to my list.

    Hi Linda, thanks. We still have quite a bit going on here, especially with those near 90 degree temps going strong last week. Things have cooled a bit to a more seasonable 70ish now, but we still need rain. I cannot say enough good things about October Skies, new last year, it has outperformed all others in our drought, more blooms than one can count! πŸ™‚

  17. nancybond says:

    A wonderful look at your beautiful garden, Frances, and a very thought provoking post, as well. I’m waiting with baited breath for that muhly grass to come into its own. πŸ˜‰

    Hi Nancy, thanks. I wish the muhly, and the sheffies would get with the program! I don’t know why they are so late this year, but soon they will be strutting their stuff, surely! πŸ™‚

  18. noel says:


    what a very nice tour of your garden this morning, i enjoyed the beautiful flowers and that sunflower is gorgeous, the grasses are also amazing!

    thanks for sharing that with us

    Aloha Noel, thanks so much. It is my pleasure to share the garden, the reason for blogging! The low light makes everything look good. πŸ™‚

  19. What an amazingly detailed and beautiful blog you have! Glad to find you through researching Blog Action Day. Mentioned your blog in my post: http://bit.ly/bFHftF

    Hi Lindsay, thanks and welcome! I am happy to join in the Blog Action Day postings, for water is our most valuable natural resource and awareness needs to be raised. I appreciate your kind link! πŸ™‚

  20. Hi, Frances;
    A joy, as always, viewing your pretty flowers. That October Sky aster is quite lovely. I equally enjoyed your thoughts on water and our misuse of it. I wonder if it will ever sink in with my desert neighbors that Kentucky Blue Grass might not be a wise idea?

    Hi Kate, thanks. Imagining the desert with blue grass, we have it but it goes dormant in summer heat and drought without water, seems criminal! I hope someday that people realize that water is not free or to be wasted like that, before it is forced upon them.

  21. Town Mouse says:

    Wonderful, that grass. Very tempting, but not native and would probably need water. Glad you’s participating in Blog Action Day. I really should do a post as well…

    Happy bloom day!

    Hi Town Mouse, thanks. The grass is a native to the southeast gulf and Atlantic coast. The fact that we can grow it here in this red clay is something for which we are very thankful. It gets no watering, but you are much drier, I believe.

  22. commonweeder says:

    I applaud you for fitting in TWO important topics. I have so little in bloom right now (you southerners get a whole second wind this time of year) that I decided to concentrate on Water with what I think is a fairly unique angle.

    Hi Pat, thanks. This is what I did last year and it seemed to be allright. The Action day will always be on bloom day if it is always Oct 15, so will always be a double topic post. I am on board with what they are trying to accomplish so want to join in. We do still have lots going on, the garden has been planned to have year around interest, still a work in progress of course. πŸ™‚

  23. patientgardener says:

    As ever your garden is looking lovely. I havent been blogging much so I hadnt picked up on blogger action day but I will keep an eye out for it next year

    Hi Helen, thanks. The action day is always October 15. I think you can sign up and will get the reminder emails that way.

  24. Les says:

    You would never know that the season is winding down by looking at your garden.

    Hi Les, thanks. It does go out with a bang here, and the muhly and sheffies haven’t even opened fully yet. There is one very late yellow button mum that is the last thing to open, not counting the camellias. Flowers make nice accessories to the fall foliage, and let us not forget those berries! πŸ™‚

  25. Scott says:

    Great post…can’t wait to see the Muhly grass in its full glory!

    Hi Scott, thanks so much. I don’t know why the driveway muhly is so late this year. There are buds all over so it will bloom. It is a good month or more later than usual.

  26. I have seen October Skies on several blogs and feel I must have some. Also Aster tartaricus. Not sure where I would put them, but a gardener doesn’t worry too much about that, at least not until the plant lust has been satisfied.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for visiting. I agree, you need to have those two asters. I am sure you will find a spot for them. The tataricus will spread some by runners, October Skies just flops on its neighbors! I am using small metal container trellis to protect the innocent. πŸ™‚

  27. Annie says:

    I just found you. Wonderful blog. I look forward to following your posts. Great idea with the Blog Action day. I will try to remember for next year.

    Hi Annie, thanks and welcome. I hope you enjoy the posts, both old and new. Blog Action day has been October 15 the last two years, so will probably be again next year, FYI. πŸ™‚

  28. Rose says:

    Great post, Frances. I didn’t realize until I started reading a few Bloom Day posts that it was Blog Action day, but since then my awareness of our issues regarding available clean water has certainly been raised. I, too, like to re-use towels and garden clothes; besides saving water, it’s also saving wear and tear on the clothes. But I do take our clean water for granted and need to be more aware to avoid wasting it.

    Your pineapple sage is so beautiful! Mine has been a disappointment this year, with only a few tiny blooms so far. I’ve noticed the butterfly garden, which was rarely watered and filled mostly with natives, didn’t seem affected by the drought this summer at all–further proof of your conclusions.

    Hi Rose, thanks. I am glad to hear about your reuse, sometimes I think we are the only ones doing it. As I use to tell the offspring, clean is a relative thing. The pineapple sage is so late to bloom, some of the pieces that are in more shady spots are just now forming buds. Good deal about the butterfly garden! The natives know how to cope, don’t they? πŸ™‚

  29. Wait, does that mean you rinse dishes in running water?? say it ain’t so.

    Hi Diana, no need to panic. We arrange the dishes in the sink on a drainer and spray them. But normally, we run the dishwasher once a week, handwashing the large pots. I only want to run it on a full load, when it is working that is. Getting a new one is on the list, but I kind of like washing them by hand with just the two of us here now.

  30. Lola says:

    Beautiful blooms as usual. It is strange that some blooms are slow to come on when they should already be in full swing.
    My sentiments for sure about the water situation. It is getting very serious.

    Hi Lola, thanks. I keep checking the muhly by the driveway, there are flowers emerging from the blades, but oh so slowly. Don’t know the reason. Up on the hill by the shed, maybe sunnier up there, it is fully opened. We need to think more about water usage in the US.

  31. linda says:

    Your October garden is glorious Frances! We have a tatarian aster from Gail. Since a strong wind blew down the single bloom stalk, we’re waiting for new buds further down the stalk to see if it’s ‘Jindai’ or another cultivar. Either way we’re happy to have it.

    We’ve all heard it said that the next wars will be over water, not oil. The internet provides a relatively new means of activism and information sharing. It’s amazing seeing the groundswell of many diverse groups coming together with more and more individuals taking personal responsibility and decisive personal actions to be the change we want to see. Kudos for your thoughtful, well-informed, and inspiring post. And thank you for the link. I’m off to sign the petition.

    Hi Linda, thanks so much. Gail gave me the species tatarian, it is taller and the flowers seem slightly lighter in color than Jindai here. Both are wonderful! I believe what you say about wars over water, it is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Time for us to wake up and begin treating it as the treasure it is.

  32. Patty says:

    Wonderful site. I found you through Blotanical. Whenever I see photos of swaths of flowers or grasses, as you have, I am reminded I need to do the same. The impact is wonderful. Love the idea of Blog Action Day. I hope to participate next year.

    Hi Patty, thanks and welcome. We are trying to do more swath plantings, something in my brain resists this however. The muhly grass is the wonderful exception. I believe Blog Action Day will always be October 15, as it has the past two years that I know of. You can sign up for reminders on the site. πŸ™‚

  33. You have some very nice blooms Frances!

    Hi Helen, thanks!

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