Fall brings a fresh flush of flowers to the Fairegarden. On this October Bloom Day, the sharing of what is flowering around the fifteenth of each month that was invented by my friend Carol of May Dreams Gardens, it was decided that a top ten list of plants might be a way to present what was going on here. I actually detest that type of story, it seems a cheap attention grabbing device rather than good writing. But, that said, I find myself reading those types of things myself, so there you go. First up is Crocus sativus, the saffron crocus. A post containing more information can be read by clicking here. Note the little honeybee backside sticking up out of the far right flower. Pretty cute.
Similar but different is Crocus speciosus. This fall blooming crocus is more blue than purple, and of course lacks the signature red saffron stigmas of C. sativus. Note the little spider hiding out on the lowest bloom. Also blooming but not shown is Sternbergia lutea, newly added last fall. It should have been planted with the crocus to better appreciate the yellow cup shaped flower. Maybe I will move it. A post was written about the fall bulbs which can be seen by clicking here if you so desire. They are a fun group.
Okay, we are on to number two of the top ten, for those keeping score. Number one was fall blooming bulbs. I am not very good at this top ten thing. These are in no particular order, by the way. Where were we? Oh yes, the second top October blooming plant is the Cuphea ssp. family. There are several species growing well here this year, all are annuals. Cuphea ignea, the cigar plant seems to be the easiest and most floriferous. Pollinators too large to enter the trumpet shaped flowers puncture the bloom to get the nectar. This honeybee was very busy doing so while I was stalking him with the camera.
Around the raised box bed, three types of Cuphea ssp. attract hummingbirds, bees and various other winged insects. It is a hive of activity. Cuphea ‘Purple Passion’ and Cuphea micropetala join the row of C. ignea that was raised from cuttings overwintered in the greenhouse/sunroom. Elsewhere are several Cuphea ‘Twinkle Pink’ plants that are covered in buzzing pollinators. Cuttings have been taken and are being grown on for next year as we speak, er write.
Asters have been assigned the number three spot on our list. There are many of those growing here, including at least three different white flowered species that were originally pulled as weeds in the early pre-wildflower appreciation years of this garden. The thinking was that if I didn’t plant it, it must be undesirable. Such arrogance has now been tamped down, thank goodness. Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’ was one of several blue asters purchased a few years ago. It stands upright, head and shoulders above the lax stems of most of the other asters. The large flower centers offer good dining opportunities for many pollinators, including these three bumbles.
Number four is the mums. The name many have changed, like the asters, but they will always and forever be referred to here as mums, or sheffies, short for the pioneer Sheffield Hill Pink that was purchased at Mouse Creek Nursery thirteen years ago. A post about The Sheffies can be seen here.
While the sheffies are of an apricot fading to light pink hue, there arose a seedling that in bud resembled the apricot of the sheffies but that opened to yellow. My friend Christopher of Outside Clyde named these the Yellies after both types were shared with him, and that is what we call them, as well.
Next up on the list of bestest would have to be grasses. Movement, texture and verticality join the blooms to make fall the perfect time for grasses to shine. This is the flower/seedhead of a brand new this week addition, Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’. It looks like a false eyelash worthy of a rockstar, doesn’t it?
Lest anyone be fooled by the closeup macro shot of the blue grama grammy winner namesake, here is the actual size of it. The previous photo is of the whitish blob just above the watermark. It will grow on in this container and might just stay there with another grass that hates my acid, clay soil, blue oat grass, Helictotrichon sempervirens. Also dwelling in this lime enriched pot are some baby Hordeum jubatum started from seed last winter. Grasses are quite easy to grow from seed and that is a good way to obtain the unobtainable ones. I have found that putting the little guys in cloistered environments helps them attain some size before being set loose in the jungle of a garden here.
No October bloom day could be considered complete without some gratuitous pink muhly grass shots. It is seen here with some sheffies and a knockout rose. Roses could have been on the list of top plants but I think that is enough for now.
Pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris and Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ line the driveway. The turning leaves of deciduous trees under the tall pine trees at the edge of the property make a fine backdrop in October for these top plantings. Aiming for ten but ending up with five is good enough, I believe. Fall bulbs, Cupheas, mums, asters and grasses are it, then. If you plant these you will have a gorgeous October garden. Plant lots of varieties of each and you will make the pollinators very happy, as well.