Monday, October 8, 2018

Returning to the Garden

It has been awhile since I have written a blog post, but it's also been awhile since I've done much in the garden.  When August arrives and dried stalks and brown seedheads are the only reminders of the daylilies and coneflowers that once brightened my garden, I get the gardening doldrums.  Keeping all the containers and new plants watered in the summer heat is enough to get me dripping with sweat, and I prefer to retreat into the cool indoors.  It's also been a busy time for family: in mid-August my daughter and family arrived for a visit from Texas, and it's always a joy to spend time with the little ones I only see a few times of year.  Before they left, my dad had some health problems and was hospitalized for almost a week and needed extra help when he returned home.  Then the local grandkids started their fall sports season, and we have been busy attending volleyball, baseball, and soccer games, and cross-country meets.  My calendar is full!

I'm not complaining, however; with over a month's hiatus, I'm ready to get back into the garden for fall chores--if it ever cools down and stops raining, that is!

Though the bright blooms of mid-summer have long since faded, there have been some new blooms to replace them.  'Heavenly Blue' and 'Flying Saucers' morning glory seeds were planted in a pot in early summer, but I thought they would never bloom.  The vines grew taller and taller and meandered through the dried coneflowers, but finally some blooms appeared.

I usually plant a variety of leftover seeds in an old whiskey barrel planter at the back of the garden and then forget to water it.  A few hardy seeds survived the neglect like this tall Celosia (name forgotten).

A favorite, Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun' also survived.

Late August brought the Zinnias, including my favorite 'Zowie Yellow Flame.' 

 They are looking a bit more tattered now in October, but from a distance they still look good and add some bright fall color, especially in the roadside garden above.

Other zinnias in shades of pink, orange, red, and purple are still going strong 
and providing nectar for the late butterflies.

Speaking of butterflies, I thought the Monarchs might have all migrated, but this afternoon I saw several floating through the garden.  They were enjoying some late blooms, but their favorite was the Tithonia.  The Tithonia planting was an accident--I think I dropped some seeds here--but I definitely need to plant more of this on purpose next year, because it really is a butterfly magnet.

"Better late than never"--I have no idea what took the Cosmos so long to bloom, but I'm happy to see them, especially since most of the flowers around them have finished.

There are some new perennial blooms as well--this is the first time I've ever seen blooms on my hardy Begonia.  I bought this plant because I love the foliage and have been surprised it has survived in my zone 5b garden.  These sweet little blooms are an added bonus.

Turtleheads, Chelone, are a welcome sight in the shade garden as the hostas begin to die back.

Many of the annuals are starting to fizzle out this time of year, but the Lantana is going strong in the Lily Bed.  I think it has doubled in size in the last month!

Coleus are also going strong and have taken over a couple of pots, which is fine with me.

Many of my containers are looking pretty sad right now, so it's a good time to evaluate what plants do best in our long summers.  All the begonias are looking great, but especially this dragon-wing begonia.  This is one plant I definitely want to try to over-winter indoors.

Supertunia Vista 'Silverberry' is one of the few petunias still looking good.  I've replaced a few plants elsewhere with fall annuals, like mums, kale, and pansies, but I don't get too carried away with fall plantings.  Autumn is just too short a season here to make it worth my time or money--we're still in the 80's, yet a frost could happen any day.

Though the summer-like temperatures are still hanging around, it definitely feels like fall.  Days are getting shorter, and there are subtle changes all around.  I took this photo of our lane a month ago, more for my benefit than to post it.  The trees lining the lane are all flowering crabapples, and they have never looked as good as this year.  The leaves are beginning to turn and drop now, but usually they look that way in August.  I think consistent rain throughout the summer really made a difference this year.

And every tree is full of fruit--no wonder my yard is filled with birds!

Other changes can be seen in the garden--Blackberry lilies showing their beautiful seedheads.

Fall perennials are blooming, like the New England Asters.

The shorter 'October Skies' Asters line one edge of the Arbor Bed.

A Tatarian Aster at the back of the Butterfly Garden--I wish I could get more of these to grow!

I have no trouble growing these, however--Frost or Hairy Aster, Symphyotrichum pilosum, is a native plant that many would consider a weed.  But I happen to like these little white blooms, not to mention they are a valuable source of nectar for bees and other insects in the fall.

In the Arbor Bed, Japanese Anemones are making an appearance.

Another Japanese Anemone--I vowed I would remember what variety both of these are, 
but naturally I've forgotten.

I'm also happy to see the Pineapple Sage in bloom.  So often, it blooms so late that it is hit by frost before it can even bloom, but this year it looks like I will have more time to enjoy it.

And finally, one of my favorite shrubs this time of year, the Beautyberry.  I love these purple berries!

Although I haven't been very industrious in the garden the past month and a half, I have enjoyed spending time just sitting and observing nature.  The hummingbirds have been a constant source of joy as I watch them dancing in the air and flying from flower to flower.  Yesterday I saw two in my garden, the latest I remember ever seeing them here, but I know that very soon they will all be on their way to warmer climes. It's a good time to enjoy the many beauties of nature before the snow flies.


  1. You have lots going on in your garden. My poor hardy begonia didn't bloom this year for the first time. Nor did my blackberry lilies. Sigh... I am so ready for cooler weather. We still have a couple of hummers around too. They probably won't be around too much longer. I love your roadside garden. It is so welcoming.

    1. Lisa, I was surprised when I saw the blooms on the begonia--I didn't know they would produce blooms! I had trouble getting blackberry lilies established here, but once I did...well, let's just say I have a plethora of them:) I really like their seedhead stage better than the blooms. I haven't seen any hummers since Sunday, so they may be gone for the winter now--wish I had said goodbye.

  2. It sounds as though you've had a busy time of it, but your garden is looking good in spite of your "neglect"!

    1. Things have slowed down, Dorothy, and soon all the ballgames will be done as well. As much as I look forward to some whole days to myself, I know I'll miss all the activity. As for the garden, we have been fortunate to receive consistent rain for most of the summer, otherwise it wouldn't be looking as good.

  3. Oh my goodness! Your Asters and Morning Glories are so pretty! Well, actually, everything is looking great. Yes, I'm sure the birds are thrilled with all those berries!

    1. Thanks, Beth. I don't have as many New England Asters as I once did; I'm not sure what happened to them. We'll see how the garden fares in another week--I just hope we don't have a frost!

  4. Hi Rose,
    Gosh you have been busy. I do hope that your Father is doing well now, bless him.
    Grandchildren are an infinite joy. I spend as much time as I can with mine. They keep you young at heart I believe.

    Beautiful Autumn flowers. I have grown Zinnias for the first time this year, they have given me so much pleasure.
    It was your blog that gave me the idea.

    Butterflies and hummingbirds, beautiful. So pleased you have plenty of food for them.
    Wildlife worldwide is under threat, we need to help as much as we can.

    Lovely post Rose.

    1. Hi, Cheryl. My Dad is doing much better, thank you. He just turned 93 and is still mowing his own lawn:) There are family and friends who would gladly do it for him, but it is something he enjoys, so we don't want to deny him that. So glad the zinnias are doing well for you and that you are enjoying them. They are such a welcome sight this time of year, and the butterflies love them. I am gardening more and more for wildlife, for which I have to give you much credit for inspiring me to do that.

  5. Hello Rose girl ! I too have taken a hiatus from the garden and blogging for some time .. I have a load of excuses, LOL
    but I hope to move into gear early November (hoping the weather isn't too severe) .. home reno projects are on the go and it can be exhausting just planning and contracting them out.
    You have gorgeous flowers and berries flourishing in your gardens and containers ! and to have those little jewels, the hummingbirds still visiting .. how amazing is that ! Love seeing this shot too :-)
    I hope your dad is feeling better and that you have some quality time for yourself too .. we all need some time to ourselves.
    Halloween will be upon you before you know it and then the grandkids will be having a blast with you !
    Good luck and take care !
    Joy (up north ! haha)

    1. So good to hear from you, Joy! It's easy to get out of the habit of blogging, isn't it? I would check on my friends' posts every once in awhile, but I knew if I tried to keep up with everyone all the time one hour at the computer would turn into two...or three..:) I think I may have seen the last of the hummingbirds this week, which always makes me a bit sad, but since the weather is going to turn colder, I do want them to make it to their Southern home soon. I'm still seeing a few Monarchs, though--who knows, maybe some of them traveled here from your house?:) My dad is doing better, and things are slowing down. By the end of the month we'll be heading to Texas to see the two littles, which is something I always look forward to. Hope things slow down for you, too!

  6. Hi, Rose! I've been waiting for your new post and finally I've read it. Wonderful season is, and I agree we have to enjoy the beauty of nature before the cold winter comes. I love the crab apple tree fruit, the birds will be thankful in cold weather. What the coleus! it grew well in this hot summer, isn't it? Lovely anemone, so tender and bright.

    1. Hi, Nadezda! It's good to catch up with everyone again. Since I posted this, the weather has undergone a drastic change. We had a light frost yesterday morning, and then even a little snow in the afternoon! I think all the flowers survived, but we have another cold night coming up tomorrow, so that may be the end of the tender annuals. Autumn is just too short!

  7. Still so many flowers in your garden. I used to grow Morning Glories, and 'Heavenly Blue' was my favorite variety. The Beautyberry fruit is amazing.

    1. This was my first time growing morning glories; I was just surprised how long it took them to bloom, Jason. The beautyberry has become one of my favorite shrubs.

  8. Hello Rose,
    I found your beautiful blog via another blog.
    Love your photos, wonderful flowers and garden you have !.
    Wish you a wonderful day,

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Els, and the kind remarks!

  9. Lovely to see your photographs and your beautiful Autumn flowers … lovely colours.

    It does sound as if you've been busy, we had a busy time during the summer spending time with the grand-children - it is just s joy to do this isn't it.

    I do hope your Father's health has improved now.

    Until next time …

    All the best Jan

    1. I do agree, Jan, that time spent with grandchildren is a joy. I'm lucky that six of them live close enough so that we can see them frequently. My dad is doing much better; at 93, he's pretty amazing in that he can still manage on his own. I hope you are enjoying autumn, too.

  10. Welcome back, Rose! Your garden is magical, full of colors and aromatic scents for butterflies !!
    It's always nice to walk virtually in your garden!
    Have a happy weekend !

    1. Thanks, Ela! Since I posted this, things have changed a lot--a couple of frosty nights, and most of the blooms in my garden are gone. The butterflies and hummingbirds have made their way south to their winter homes, or so I hope.

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  12. Hummingbirds had better hurry on before cold weather. Ours have already left, but we still have feeders up for any migrants coming by.
    Wonderful, beautiful blooms! Love the Beautyberry!
    Have a great week!

    1. The week of Oct. 8 I saw a couple more hummingbirds, who I assume were just passing through. I still have the feeders up, but with the cold nights we have had lately, I sure hope they are safely roosting in a much warmer place! Thanks for stopping in, Lea; the beautyberry is one of my fall favorites, too.


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