Late Summer Magic

Late summer into fall can be a bit of a drag, gardenwise. The freshness of spring is long past, the exuberance of summer flowers like daylilies have faded. We are left with brownish spent stems and leaf edges burnt by the heat and dryness that is characteristic of the middle of the year . But there has been a turning, little by little. It is evident in the coloring of the winterberry hollies, Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’ and I. ‘Winter Gold’.

Certain stalwarts of hot conditions, with extra watering, are the Dahlias, including the eye catching D. ‘Creme de Cassis’.

Let us zoom out some, to give a more realistic view. It is slightly controled chaos from a distance, but let’s take a closer look.

Aha, my favorite little munchers, the larval stage of beloved butterflies. Tiger and black swallowtails abound here, due to the conscious planting of their favorite meal. Parsley, dill and the very ornamental bronze fennel, Foeniculum vulgare are happily shared with very hungry caterpillars.

We make sure there are plenty of nectar rich wildflowers for our flighty friends. This volunteer thistle (unknown species), easily over eight feet tall, is a  welcome giant in the lawn meadow. A black swallowtail can be seen in silhoutte against the strident summer sun, just above my watermark.

The blossoms are architecturally beautiful, if quite pickery to the touch.

Grasses in bloom enter the spotlight, adding movement and feathery touches. Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ is a large presence, planted to help hide the utility boxes in front. It offers a glimpse of something more brilliant hiding behind.

Purple is the perfect color of late summer, whether in blooms or berries. Cuphea ‘Purple Passion’ seeds about haphazardly each year. This placement was fortuitious.

Beautyberry, Callicarpa ‘Early Amethyst’ has grown to a generous enough size to be noticed. In the background, Rudbeckia triloba offers exuberant complementary color to the cooler hues.

In fact, this avid self sowing biennial Rudbeckia has found a home in nearly every flower bed here. Many seedlings are pulled, some are moved during late winter for better placement. I need to remember how tall they can get and situate them more appropriately in the future. The bright yellow petals with neat brown bobble centers do play well with others. The same cannot be said for the vigorous blue blob seen in the background.

But who can resist the charms of the brilliant blues? In the lawn/meadow, the boldest and strongest plants, such as Miscanthus ‘Adagio’ , thuggish mountain mint, Pycnanthemum muticum and the supporting stems of ironweed, Vernonia gigantea can withstand the winding, willful vines of morning glory, Ipomoea sp. Lesser perennials will be brought down in a tumble and even shrubs can be suffocated in heart shaped leaves. The gardener needs to maintain watchful vigilance to protect the weak.

If ever there was doubt of the magic that exists in the realm of nature, proof can be found in the simple flower of morning glories. Lit from within, perhaps there is a fairy party going on inside. Maybe the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything resides down the funnel of white pollen? 42, you say? I am open to all possibilities.


This entry was posted in New garden, wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Late Summer Magic

  1. The garden is going into that rusty stage. The few flowers that are still blooming do make me happy. Those dreaded morning glories in any form are pretty but I don’t let them bloom if I can help it. I wonder if that cuphrea would self seed around here??? If I find it I will give it a try. It is pretty.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by. Rusty stage, I love that! We, and the pollinators do appreciate the blooms now and into the fall. Asters and mums will carry us across the bridge to winter. It’s sad, but spring would not be so sweet without the cold. Sorry…got carried away there! Do try the Cuphea, it’s worth the effort to find it. Don’t remember where I got the original seeds.

  2. Barbara H. says:

    It’s a gusty morning here, ushering in the welcome coolness of fall. I still have color in my front courtyard garden, but sleepy time is on it’s way.

    Hi Barbara, hope it’s not too windy there. We are to get the wind later today, but Harvey is quite a bit west of us so it won’t be bad. Hardly any rain, either. Fall is bittersweet, but beautiful.

  3. Gail says:

    It’s so good to see your garden! I appreciate the long shots and photos of faded flowers and seedheads; they’re beauties. I need to pay attention to where the R triloba seedlings are hiding and move them to better spots. They are amazingly prolific! Hoping you get rain, we’ve been pummeled by Harvey’s remnants, no gardening until Sunday ,when it dries out a bit. xoxogail

    Thanks, Gail. Your garden will benefit from the rain, even as plants are beaten down. Triloba is so much happier at the new garden, it is surprising. I could hardly get a couple of plants from all those seeds at the old one. We are getting a tiny bit of rain, no complaints. xoxoxo

  4. Marguerite says:

    Hellllllllllllllooooooo Frances! You beat me to the punch, I was going to say “42” and there it was, on my monitor. As I used to say in elementary school (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth) “Pins on YOU!!!”. Your gah-den looks lush, and I especially like the silver/grey/taupe aspect of it between the grasses and earlier flowers rusting…. which especially makes other colors pop. I hope in addition to your gah-den that your now not-so-new town has embraced you with all your talents and your new roots continue to strengthen. Many plants here in CT have moved their debut forward by at least a month. My many Honoring Jobert Anemones are moving from buds and beginning to flower. While I love seeing them, I planted them for their bloom in later Sept-early Oct when I entertain many friends in my Sukkah (hut in the garden for the Jewish Harvest Festival after Yom Kippur) . And here they are, swanning in at Labor Day. That and Harvey should give us much pause. Eager for some really long shots to see the yin/yang of your plants and garden bones/structure…. to see how the garden design and screening are working out. Above all , wishing a new school year of health, joy and good fortune to “The Gardener” as you refer to her, and her family.

    Hello, dear Marguerite! I so appreciate the time and effort you put into your comments! The next post will contain long shots of the lawn/meadow, maybe. I almost made that the subject this time. It is finally looking like something more than lawn grass left unmown. We are also a good month ahead with blooms this year. The muhly grass is beginning already. Honorine is a favorite here, so tall and fresh. May yours hold on for your sweet celebrations, and the good wishes back to you.

  5. I know thistles provide food for pollinators and birds, but I just don’t want them in my garden. I battled them for years in the peony bed of my previous garden. Now morning glories take so long to get going here that they aren’t much of a problem. They don’t even start blooming until mid-August. I need to get more Rudbeckia triloba.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for visiting. I completely understand the abhorrance to thistle. It is a bane to farmers since the livestock won’t eat it and it seeds so prolifically. We only have one plant and that is for the best. Why this plant has grown to tree size is a mystery. The morning glories are late here, too and are also kept to a minimum. Triloba is so elegant, more so than hirta and the perennial ones, but it must be watched.

  6. Sylvia (England) says:

    Love the morning glory, it has just been too cold here for them to flower. Had buds in July but then a couple of coldish nights put paid to any flowers. I am hopeful that with a warm September I may see a flower, I would be happy with just one!

    Hi Sylvia, so nice to see you! May you get those longed for morning glory blooms soon. They often survive several frosts here, but our climate is very different than yours, I know. Happy fall!

  7. Susan O'Halloran says:

    Oh my! Your photo of the morning glory is magical! There is a light emanating from within it! Thanks so much for this bit of floral wonder.

    Hi Susan, thank you so much. The morning glory centers are certainly full of wonder and magic. It offers lots to imagine, doesn’t it?

  8. tineke flowers says:

    thank you, thank you, for all that beauty in your garden that you share with the world… you have such a keen eye and talent to show it off!

    i especially love your question about the morning glory flower… such depth and appreciation! I a l w a y s enjoy your blog, but this one brought magic to my soul!!

    thank you, from a fellow (container) gardener… retired Dutch/Canadian freelance gardenwriter/broadcaster for over 36 yrs…

    tineke 🌺

    say it with flowers….


    Hi Tineke, welcome and thank you for those kind words! Dutch/Canadian sounds like a most interesting mix of gardening experience. The morning glory flowers never cease to fill me with wonder and amazement. How something so common can hold boundless paths of imagination.

  9. Terri says:

    I love reading your blog. Because I live in East Tennessee, too, I can use your posts to imagine what I might try. Thank you so much! Also: 42, funny!

    Hi neighbor! It is nice to find a garden blog that shares your climate. Every garden is unique in soil and siting, too, but maybe you can get some ideas of new things to try. Hope so!

  10. dineshvs30 says:

    The photos are so beautiful !

    Thank you!

  11. bittster says:

    Beautiful and I’m glad to see someone else sneaks a thistle in here and there just because you can. The goldfinches will thank you as well.
    Morning glories are amazing but for as brave as I am with the thistles I’m scared of the morning glories!

    Thanks! I agree, the morning glories are much more of a threat to world domination here in TN. The birds and pollinators adore the thistles and I think they are pretty. Not everyone agrees, but that’s okay. It’s my garden. HA

  12. Yes, late summer can find the garden faded around the edges. But we gardeners can still find the magic.

    Hi Robin, thanks for stopping by. Sometimes I feel like cutting the whole garden down at this time of year, but think better of it knowing there are still flowers to come and how much the wildlife depends on our leaving things standing.

  13. Rose says:

    Late summer is my least favorite time in the garden, but you have shown there is beauty and magic to be found even at this time of year if you look closely enough. The Rudbeckia triloba is so pretty at this time of year and a welcome cheery sight, but mine is a little too happy here–“found in every flowerbed” is an understatement:)

    Hi Rose, nice to see you! The Rudbeckia triloba has a lot to offer the late summer garden. But if you are trying to grow some smaller things too, it has to be pulled before setting seed or moved to a meadow type space. It’s worth it, though.

Comments are closed.