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.