November Bloom Day 2010-Still Going

This is the beginning of the real test of a garden, after that killing hard frost. A gardener spends their lifetime looking at the space in which they can play, trying to think of what will make it look pleasing to them for the longest period of time. Spring is easy, fall planted bulbs, early flowering shrubs and woodland wildflowers nearly plant themselves. Summer is full and lush, with most perennials in blowsy bloom. Fall has the brilliance of blazing foliage and the late season grasses joining the mums and asters. And then there is now, after the fall but before the sharp coldness of winter sets in. The days are already shorter, much shorter as daylight becomes more precious. This is when the garden interest shifts to stark trunks and stems, birds at the feeders, and here in southeast Tennessee, the newly planted pansies and violas. We choose the violas for their smaller but more numerous blooms. They will continue growing enormous root systems underground during the cold months to produce abundance unmatched in spring by plants set out at that time. Above is Viola ‘Antique Shades’. The cold brings out the darker hues, in spring the oranges and yellows will blend for a smile inducing spectacle. This colorway was chosen for all the containers, to help the winter days pass more quickly with the energy they inspire.

Among the winter interest perennials is the true Geranium sanguineum, throwing out the occasional flower on warm days. The divided evergreen foliage spreads by runners and will don the reddish cloak for which it is named as temperatures. Sanguineum means blood red. The common name is Bloody Cranesbill, as the seedhead has the structure of that bird.

Cold weather months are the time of macro shots for bloom days, usually. The single flower found, perhaps hidden under a protective covering of fallen leaves will make the garden seem as though it is still overflowing with color. But the truth is closer to a hillside of muted neutrals. Sedum siebodii ‘October Daphne’ , (the new name is not being recognized here in a rebellion against unwise taxonomists who cannot leave easily pronouncable names be), will color up in leaf before disentegrating as the flower heads and stems remain intact until cut down in spring to start over once again. The tone is darker, but still interesting.

An example of the aforementioned macro features the annual Gomprena ‘Fireworks’, still blasting color despite being located on a corner that is hit hard by frost, unprotected and vulnerable. Wave after wave of cold will eventually suck the color from its petals, but for now it remains as bright as mid summer’s eve.

The roses that were open when the below freezing air mass hit were turned to toast, but the buds held tightly were protected to bloom as the weather moderated. Fall here is up and down, with losses as each dip occurs until the dip becomes the norm. Rosa ‘Moonlight’ has been a pleasure to grow, many flowers over a very long period, nearly year around. One large specimen was lost to the dreaded Rose Rosette disease and had to be dug and sent far away to the landfill. There are two remaining, thank goodness. Offspring Semi lost her largest Moonlight as well, but has cuttings growing quickly to full size.

Another rose flowering, there are several, the best photos are the ones shown here this day, is the Killer, Rosa ‘Alberic Barbier’ replacement Rosa ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’. The saga of Killer was explained in our earliest posts after the blogging began, for its fate was a dilemma. If you have any interest in finding out more, the posts can be seen by clicking here-Killer part one, here-Killer part two and here-Killer part three, in chronological order. There was a vote and the Madame won our hearts as one of the roses to climb the newly built arbor. She is joined by a Moonlight cutting and R. ‘Fortune’s Double Yellow’ there.

The most color in the garden is still being supplied by the mum clan. The Sheffies, C. ‘Sheffield Pink’ lead the way. Many of the flowers were taste tested by cucumber beetles this year, but enough remain unscathed to provide smiles when viewed from afar. Like in the lazyboy in the addition. Perhaps the little spider helped protect these stems from the vandals?

To show that we could not resist those candy colored monstrosities offered on every street corner, seen above is Exhibit A. Three giant pots were purchased and planted of the rusty orange with purple highlights a couple of years ago. Overnight, some critter pulled one of them entirely out of the ground and drug them away. Note I did not say if it was animal or human. Scratch one plant. The hole was smoothed over and left bare. The following year there was a smidgeon of foliage but no flowers. This year, one stem bravely topped with the highly desirable color emerged. While beautiful, this type of mum is not suited for garden use other than to be treated as an annual. It may have overwintered, but one stem does not a garden make. But that’s just me.

Nor does one small plant of dwarf pomegranate, Punica granatum ‘Nana’ a garden make. This oddball was purchased one winter a few years ago and kept in the greenhouse for some frivolous fun. It was planted in the ground the following spring in a protected spot under some evergreens and forgotten. The next winter, it was covered with some Christmas tree branches along with the more tender hydrangeas. We cut all the branches off of the trunk for garden use after the holidays are over. They make very fine and fragrant plant teepees and have afforded enough cover for the frost tender flower buds of the hydrangeas to survive and bloom. Remember to leave them in place until that last frost of spring date has safely passed. Back to the Pom, it does not produce any fruit, sad to say, but just the fact that it is alive in this zone denial planting is a coup.

Sigh. Here is where I reveal that I am a sham and a hypocrite. It is written on this blog to get rid of plants you don’t like, and here is the Gaillardia pulchella, growing and blooming, just to spite me. The color is offensive. It does not bring a smile, it brings a frown and we know that frowns cause wrinkles. But I digress. Seeds were planted in the beginning, why, who can say. But they germinated, grew well and flowered. But we didn’t care much for the way them looked in the garden and the plants were moved to other spots. They quickly died in the summer sun without water, and we thought that was that. But the seeds had dropped and new plants arose. They too bloomed, and even though we disliked them intensely, we could not pull a healthy blooming plant and ignored it. Naturally it kept seeding and making more plants, despite the lack of care. And so it continues, unloved and unwanted. It irks me everytime I pass the group of them, but my hand cannot pull the plug. I am weak. Forgive me.

Sometimes the plants get confused by the roller coaster ride that is our weather. Drought followed by plentiful rains can trigger blooming in some, like the Vinca minor ‘Illumination’ shown above. Most do not even get noticed but this blue babe is growing at the entryway to the concrete step stone path that leads up the slope. A shot of blue caught the eye and the body bent to get a closer look. Yup, flowering out of season.

Closing out this months bloom day, the brainchild of sweet Carol of May Dreams Gardens, is the iconic pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris. Once the main swath of this fall fatale, the planting fronting the boxwood hedge of the knot garden has been shaded out by the ever growing azaleas sharing the space. Plants have been divided and moved, trying to keep the show alive, but now the end cap is the healthiest and best blooming of the row, nearest the large concrete steps that lead to the knot garden opening. Now in the purple bruise stage, the color deepened and darkened by frost, the muhly will carry us into true winter conditions, turning to pale straw. It will remain in place, to offer movement and catch the light until after the holidays when it will be cut to the ground. The cycle will begin again. Repeat as necessary.


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23 Responses to November Bloom Day 2010-Still Going

  1. Valerie says:

    Oh you have some lovely blooms left. I do love the gaillardia as it thrives here in hot sun and sand soil.

  2. Eileen says:

    Frances, you still have some great blooms. My garden is pretty well don except for those Rainbow roses. I can’t believe they still have buds opening. I think it is going to take consistent temperatures in the 20’s to get them.


  3. Gail says:

    Hello Frances! I marvel at how lovely November can be in our beautiful state! I have a sprinkling of flowers here and there, but, we are dipping most surely toward winter. ‘Antique Shades” is lovely and it will add to the genetic pool for the Viola Beauty contest! I have long admired ‘Fireworks’ gomphrena~(well since Buffa10!)…I cannot get gaillardia established and you can’t get rid of it. Oh, the ironies! xxoogail

  4. Hi Frances,
    Are all your plants from your slope? Quite a variety. My slope is planted with only a few varieties…guess I should be more adventurous.
    Happy GBBD,

  5. Frances, your blooms are still going strong. I am feeling a bit envious here in the Falls. Left with Iceberg roses, asters and a couple mums, my garden is getting in gear for the long cold months ahead. You are right, this time of year is for the macro shots and yours are very lovely. Only a few blooms here in my garden, but they really stand out, noticed more for their scarcity, than their beauty. Happy Bloom Day.

  6. Eliza says:

    Oops, I forgot to plant my violas this fall. I’ll miss them — especially in my salad bowl. I love your overflowing mixed container, it looks like a little micro-Autumn.

  7. Rose says:

    I have trouble “pulling the plug’ on anything blooming, too, Frances. I actually like your gaillardia. But you already know my favorite of all your blooms–the pink Muhly. I hope that is visible from the Lazyboy; just looking at it makes me happy.

  8. Blast those cucumber beetles – they came back last week during the warm temperatures. You’d think the freeze would have killed them off.

  9. Cat says:

    Differing tastes are what make the gardening world go round! I realy like the gaillardia and have added two this year. I hope they like it here in Austin! You’re right though, it is extremely tough to pull anything growing and flowering so well 😉 Beautiful post and I enjoyed seeing your blooms.

  10. You still have some wonderful flowers to celebrate in your garden Frances! I love the pansies particularly, so small and yet so tough!

  11. Kathy says:

    I can see why that mum attracted you in the first place. Who knows? It may eventually bulk up and find its place in the autumn garden.

  12. Janet says:

    Don’t you just get frustrated when some ‘critter’ steals your plant? I am down 6 roses and 6 Loropetalum.

  13. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Frances, your roses are real troopers. I have seen one or two around here in protected places but not in my garden. Happy GBBD.

  14. patientgardener says:

    I think autumn is like spring in that we have to actually look at the garden rather than having it pushed into our faces as we do with the big and bold summer blooms. However, I think that isa good thing as you appreciate things more

  15. Lona says:

    The Pink Muhly Grass is so beautiful. I have no room for grasses but I must find room for that one Frances. It is wonderful to still see a few hardy little flowers throwing up a bloom or two this late. Have a wonderful week!

  16. Beautiful photographs! I love violas–much superior to pansies. Ours do not winter over, but reseed and come back in late spring. Carolyn

  17. lotusleaf says:

    Lovely flowers as usual, although it is the beginning of winter.

  18. Diana says:

    Ah, Frances…you are not weak, you have a big heart — room even for those plants that don’t always please you or match your garden palette. I like the Gallardia, and it must like you! The Gomphrema is so striking – I love that form. Happy GBBD.

  19. Layanee says:

    The slant of the sun does tell the tale although your blooms are still lovely.

  20. Jennifer says:

    Lovely bloom day post. My favorite image is not the most exotic – the pansies that you opened with- I just love their happy, colorful faces!

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  22. commonweeder says:

    When the day comes that we really really retire, give up the chickens, and begin travelling I am going to plan a garden tour of your part of the world in November. How beautiful everything is, even the colors that make you frown.

  23. kerri says:

    The October Dapne is a beautiful plant, and is still looking very attractive in your lovely fall garden, Frances.
    I’d be ecstatic to have a rose that produced many flowers over a long period. Rosa Moonlight is gorgeous.
    I always admire your Sheffield Pink and the lovely Pink Muhly grass.
    And don’t we appreciate those pretty pansy faces, smiling brightly through rain, hail and shine? I only have a few at the moment, but my Hellebore is carrying the (very meager) show!
    Happy November Bloom Day!

    Hi Kerri, thanks for stopping by, so nice to see you! It is nice to have long blooming roses. I admire your hellebores, we cannot grow the H. niger here, only orientalis does well. The pansies are so sweet, I always make a note to self, plant more! 🙂

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