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.
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.