Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Heading into Fall: What was Blooming Last Week

Hydrangea paniculata 'Quick Fire' blooms a bit earlier than most hydrangeas. Initially, the flowers are white. As the fall approaches, they age into a deep firey rose.

Any possibility of gardening today has been rained out. Poor Piper is curled up on his bed looking a bit dejected about spending the afternoon indoors. Every time I get up from my desk, he looks at me expectantly, hoping I am going to put on my gardening shoes.

If it's one thing I've learned this summer, it's just how much we both love to be outdoors. What's surprising about this is I am not at all a sporty person. I've always thought that given a book and a comfortable chair I'm happy, but no, I've come to realize how much I like to be busy and active. Sometimes the heat and mosquitoes get to me a little, but I still choose to be working outside.

I think Piper shares my sentiments.

If I have been posting rather erratically, it's because I have been rushing to finish off a long list of projects before the weather turns. Sadly not everything on my to-do list is going to get completed. The pond for instance. It's likely to remain a cavernous hole in the ground until next spring. I am super disappointed about this, but in the end, it all came down to issues of time and money. Instead, we've decided to focus our energies on revamping our compost system which is a smaller project and will cost little or no money (we have most of the materials needed already).

This phlox has been blooming since mid-summer:

Phlox 'Sweet Summer Candy' has pink flowers with a white eye. Water regularly for best performance. Full sun with a little afternoon shade. Height: 20-30 cm (8-12 inches), Spread:38-45 cm (15-18 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Yellow Wax Bells, Kirengeshoma palmata love moist soil, part-shade/shade.

Native Cardinal flowers, Lobelia siphilitica

I am pleased with what we have accomplished over the gardening season. With my husband's help, we have managed to tackle two problem areas. In the first spot, an old variety of big leafed Macrophylla hydrangeas that never bloomed had to be removed (they bloom on old wood that dies our Ontario winter). The orange daylilies that surrounded them have also been ousted. Good riddance! Never put up with plants that are problematic or don't perform!

We also cleared an area that had Goutweed, orange daylilies and Double Soapwort, Saponaria officinalis. The Goutweed and the daylilies are almost defeated, but the Soapwort is proving to be a bit more tenacious. While I'd love to be free to replant this space in the spring, I am willing to wait it out to make sure that there will be no recurrence of these invasive perennials.

Hydrangea 'Little Lime' with various Sedum in the background.

Hydrangea 'Little Lime' is the little sister of popular 'Limelight'. It has greenish-white flowers that turn deep rose-green in early fallIt blooms on new wood so prune it in late winter or early spring as needed. Part-sun to full sun. Height: 36-60 inches, Spread: 36-60 inches. USDA zones: 3-8.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' has heart-shaped, silver-coloured leaves that are veined in a bright green. Sprays of blue flowers, which closely resemble forget-me-nots, appear in mid-spring. This cultivar can take more sun than many other types of Brunnera, but it still prefers afternoon shade particularly in hotter gardening zones. Average garden soil is fine, but 'Jack Frost' prefers rich soil and moist conditions. Height: 30-40 cm (12-16 inches), Spread: 30-45 cm ( 12-18 inches). USDA Zones: 2-8.

Verbena bonariensis

I am very grateful to a friend who gifted me several Verbena bonariensis seedlings that she had grown herself.

Verbena bonariensis is a tender perennial (usually grown as an annual here) with mauve flowers on tall, wiry stems. It likes sun and moist, well-drained soil.  Sow 6-10 weeks before planting out after frost.  Seed depth: 1/16 inch. Sprout time:10-30 days. Blooms July until frost. Verbena bonariensis will generously reseed itself if spent flower heads are allowed to remain into the fall. Height: 2- 4', Spread: 1.5-3' . USDA zones:7-11. Bees and butterflies love it!

Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa (top left), Phlox and Sedum (bottom of the picture) with Miscanthus grass in the distance.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Sedum 'Autumn Charm' (with variegated foliage).

A new-to-me perennial:

Dwarf Liatris, Liatris microcephala is native to the area of the southern Appalachian Mountains. It has arching stems of lavender flowers on a compact, vase-shaped clump with grass-like foliage. Attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. Drought tolerant. Full sun. Height: 24 inches, Spread: 18-24 inches. USDA zones: 4-8.

Another thing I am really happy about is the numbers of butterflies that have visited this year. The Monarchs have loved the Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)Monarda (both the scarlet 'Raspberry Wine' and the mauve Monarda fistulosa), the tall purple Ironweed (Vernonia) and the Echinacea. There is always one or two of them flitting about each afternoon.

Cabbage White Butterflies have come faithfully to the Calamintha, Sedum and Catmint (Nepeta). Other pretty visitors have included Swallowtails (both yellow and black) and Admiral butterflies. 

Phlox paniculata 'David's Lavender' (right) and Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa (in the background).

Looking toward the back of the yard.

Salvia 'Black and Bloom' and Salvia patens

Salvia 'Black and Bloom' has showy, indigo-blue flowers and black stems on a plant with attractive green foliage. This fast-growing tender perennial likes regular watering especially in the heat. Part-shade to full sun (with some light afternoon shade). Height: 3-4 ft, Spread: 3-4 ft. USDA zones: 8-9.

The thyme seeds I planted in late June didn't take (we did go away for two weeks–not sure if that is what went wrong). Thankfully the plugs I planted are slowly filling in. Fingers crossed the thyme makes it through the coming winter.

At the base of the sundial (inside the little circle) I have planted:

Catmint, Nepeta racemosa 'Blue Wonder' has compact, aromatic grey-green foliage and blue flowers. Butterflies love this perennial. Cut the plant back mid-summer to encourage new blooms. Drought tolerant. Full sun to light shade. Height: 30-45 cm (10-18 inches), Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). USDA zones: 3-8.

Dwarf Calamint, Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepta has arching sprays of pale mauve-blue flowers. The foliage of this plant has a slight minty fragrance. Full sun or light shade. It tolerates average, dry and moist growing conditions and is suitable for normal, sandy or clay soils. Bees love it! Height: 20-30 cm (8-12 inches), Spread 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). Hardy USDA Zones 4-9.

Russian Sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Little Spire' is a shorter, upright Russian Sage with lavender-blue flowers and grey-green foliage. Full sun. Height: 60-75 cm (23-29 inches), Spread 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

 I still haven't replaced my broken sundial.

I know other gardeners like this Salvia. Myself, I feel only mild enthusiasm based on its performance this summer.

Salvia 'Mystic Spires' is a tender perennial (annual here in my garden) with grey-green foliage and deep blue flowers. Full sun. Height: 46-61 cm (18-24 inches), Spread 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). Hardy USDA Zones: 7-10.

Looking back toward the "pond" which is just a big hole in the ground at the moment. Thankfully all the flowers hide it somewhat.

Echinacea purpurea 'Pow Wow Wildberry' has magenta petals and an orange cone. This is a mid-sized plant that was the All-American Selections Winner in 2010. Full sun. Height: 50-60 cm (20-23 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

In this part of the garden, there are four raised beds with an urn in the centre.

Phlox paniculata 'David's Lavender' has flowers that are lavender-mauve. Average to moist growing conditions. Full sun or light shade (mine is in light-shade). Height: 90-120 cm (36-48 inches), Spread: 60-90 cm (24-36 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.

I have this particular Phlox in a number of different spots. The big clump (shown above) is in one of the four raised beds. To tell the truth, 'David's Lavender' is a little tall for this particular location, but I have left it because it looks so nice every fall.

Garlic Chives in my herb garden.

If you have a keen eye, you'll have spotted the Goldenrod in the flowerbed at the very back of the yard. Digging it out is at the top of this week's to-do list! 

The entire circular flowerbed has been neglected while I focus on other things.  It needs a complete overhaul next spring.

Rosa 'Never Alone' 

Though the forecast calls for a few hot days later this week, the temperatures at night have dipped significantly. Most mornings are frosty enough to require a coat.

I still have perennials to move and tasks to complete, so I am hoping that the first hard frost is still a few weeks away.