Stop it with the autumn talk

Many people enjoy and claim they welcome the coming of autumn.   I want to make it clear that I do not, and although the last few days have been a little too hot and dry for my taste, I would much prefer the relief of a summertime cloudburst rather than any farewell to summer eulogy.  So I guess what I want is just a few more days of denial before I’m forced to admit the season is breaking down.

hardy chrysanthemums

The tomatoes of summer are still going strong even with their new neighbors the fall chrysanthemums.

After a promising start to the summer August went dry and for the past forty days we’ve barely cracked the 1/4 inch mark for rainfall.  With high temperatures, thin soil, drying winds, and full sun the life was sucked out of a garden which had been almost carefree at the start of the summer.  With a nice rain today we’ll see how fast things bounce back.  My guess is it will be a much faster turnaround than the last two summers when things REALLY dried out to a crisp.

fall vegetable gardening

One patch of watered soil ready for fall planting. Hopefully cool weather will soon allow for a few broccoli and cauliflower transplants.

In spite of the heat a few things still look nice.  The tropical garden got a few minutes with the hose, and that seems to have been enough to keep it from death.  I love the colors right now with the purple verbena bonariensis, dark red dahlias, and peach colored salvia splendens filling the bed.

salvia splendens van houttei peach

A little orange from ‘Tropicanna’ canna goes a long way in brightening up the late summer salvia, verbena and dahlias.

With the grass dried up to a crispy beige the stronger reds, oranges, and purples really stand out.  I don’t think a bed full of lavenders, whites, and pale pinks would be as eye catching…. which I’m going to say is a good thing, since in this world of gray and tan I can use as much eye catching and hold-on-to-life color as I can get!

dahlia mathew alan

End of summer color from dahlia ‘Mathew Alan’.  As usual the dahlias could use some dead heading.

Even up front a little bold color is a nice thing.  The border along the house foundation has a few spots of color from the ‘Masquerade’ peppers I planted out this spring.  The true type has purple peppers changing to yellow, orange, and red while a few oddball plants started right off with pale yellow and are now going through the same sunset effect.

pepper masquerade

‘Masquerade’ peppers from seed with all the fescue clumps I divided up this spring.  I finally like this bed… but we’ll see how I can mess it up next year 🙂

Along the street is another story.  Even with a few emergency waterings things look end of summer tired.

dry perennial border

To water or not to water, that is the question.  Obviously I chose the latter, but the ‘Karl Forster’ feather reed grass, sedums, and perovskia are still holding on.

I did give the ‘Limelight’ hydrangea a little soaking, but a few water lovers such as the ‘Golden sunshine’ willow will need a good bit of water before they look anything close to happy again.

dry perennial border

I think this border will need a little trimming out of dead things once the rains soak in.  No big deal though, a little fall cleanup will carry it on through the next few months.

There are still a few bright spots.  Even in the harsh midday sun kniphofia ‘Ember Glow’ looks nice.  It could be a little taller but the size actually works well with the peppers and coleus (please ignore the dead rudbeckias and dying zinnias).


Red hot poker (Kniphofia) with peppers and a surprisingly sun and drought resistant coleus.  I wasn’t sure if the poker would ever bloom this year but I guess it’s a later cultivar. 

Until the garden bounces back the best thing to do is spend more time in the shade, seated with cold beverage in hand.  I can ignore the weeds and dead lawn quite successfully on the back deck.

summer planters on the deck

This is a late summer view, not autumn.  I’ll keep that delusion up until the first frosts threaten!

Even with a good soaking the lawnmower will still likely be on vacation for another week or two.  I’m ok with that.  I hope the soil takes in the rain, the plants come back, and I can finally use something other than a pickaxe to dig a hole.  Maybe then I’ll start thinking about things like fall while I’m taking care of a little late summer transplanting and bulb planting 🙂

36 comments on “Stop it with the autumn talk

  1. I agree, the tropical garden is rockin’ it. Really, the rest doesn’t look too bad, either, all things considered. I’m glad you don’t try to keep your lawn watered. Hope that rain comes through for you.

    • bittster says:

      The rain missed us of course so I have to admit I broke down and watered last weekend. Dead grass at this time of year is just too depressing and this way it should green up by October… I hope!

  2. mattb325 says:

    I love the street borders – they still look great despite the lack of rain. The dahlias look stunning – I really like the deep velvety shades of late summer!

    • bittster says:

      When I see dahlias blooming at this time of year I really regret neglecting them all spring and summer. Luckily they bounce back quickly and still put on a great show.

  3. Christina says:

    Firstly I want to say that despite your reservations your garden is looking great. Amazing that you don’t give much extra water. Secondly I don’t want to think about autumn yet either, which may surprise you as high summer is a bit of a nightmare for me, but late summer which can be September and October here are the loveliest months, cool nights so I sleep well, warm enough in the day to work in shirtsleeves (early in the morning suddenly I need something on my arms or I can wait until later to go outside, an option not sensible in mid-summer. now it is a joy to be outside. The rich colours of your late summer garden and the glorious mix of tomatoes and chrysanthemums, what joy. I hope you get enough rain to please all the plants but that it remains summer for a while longer for you too.

    • bittster says:

      Ahhhh….. Late summer in your part of the world sounds ideal! I can give or take gardening in the heat of high summer (and far prefer the pool or beach) but once the cooler nights arrive it’s perfect for evenings out and early bedtimes. If I could only get rid of all the little gnats which pester me from sunup to sundown…
      Overall we had a decent run of gardening weather, it’s only been the last few weeks that things have dried up completely. It’s a shame though since this is when I really enjoy sinking a shovel into nice damp soil and moving plants around and planting bulbs.
      What I don’t like is pick axing a hole in dry lifeless rock. That’s what I’m worried about facing this fall.

  4. Julie says:

    Absolutely, Autumn has come far to quickly here too, despite your lack of rain, your garden still looks enticing especially the tropical border. The cold beverage sounds especially enticing!

  5. Chloris says:

    I love your sizzling tropical garden. I hate to say goodbye to summer but I love September plants. It is not so hot in September but it is never really hot here, so it doesn’ t make much difference. I would love a few days of real heat to laze about in my hammock. I would love to sit on your beautiful deck in the heat too.I hope you get a lot more lovely summer days to enjoy it.

  6. Nope, no talk of autumn here either, please! The calendar says we still have 12 days! However, those 90 degree, humid days last week were a bit hard to take! Glad to have gotten some rain yesterday and cooler temperatures now, and happy that I’ll be able to stop dragging the hose around on a daily basis for a while! Your gardens still look great, and I’ll bet they look even better today after the rain!

    • bittster says:

      So here it is over 12 days later and summer is still holding on! I’m back and forth between enjoying the warm dry and looking forward to a good soaking rain to carry us into the winter. Then again shorts and t-shirt weather in autumn isn’t the most horrible thing!
      … but I am a little sick of the watering. A dead lawn does the heart no good when it’ nearly October.

  7. Kathryn says:

    I *almost* wished for autumn this week while out on an afternoon run that was grueling. And then I almost slapped myself for thinking that winter would feel nice. I love all of your bright colors. They really add pizzazz to what is often a tired time of year.

    • bittster says:

      You may finally have your running weather back next week, I see cooler weather for the last few days of September. Good thing since marathons and mums both seem to fit better when there’s a little nip in the air!

  8. There’s still a lot going on in your garden, Frank, in spite of the heat. It is ironic that our hottest days this year occurred in September. Unfortunately, yesterday’s heavy rain just made my garden look more messy with grasses and tall flowers flattened. I am trying to hang on to summer, but I must confess that I am tired. P. x

    • bittster says:

      I hope with an end in sight from the heat you are feeling a little bit invigorated! When I get tired of work in the garden I tend to hit the lawnchair rather than pushing myself to keep up. It’s not good for all the weed seeds which mature and spread, but it’s good for me, and there’s always next year for weeding!
      I did do some cutting back last week. It may have been too early for many plants but I feel infinitely better about the messes, and the plants will get over it!

  9. Cathy says:

    All that colour you have managed to bring in, especially in the tropical border, is a wonderful sight in late summer… yes, I don’t think it’s autumn yet either, even if my acer is starting to change colour!

    • bittster says:

      The color is still great, even now several days later, but there’s more than one acer beginning to color here (and I bet with you as well now). The last two weeks have brought out an undeniable change in leaf colors on many plants and I think my autumn-denial is at an end…
      If it would only rain then maybe I would embrace the season change!

  10. Annette says:

    Me too, I’m still in late summer mode and will stay like that for many weeks to come. I think we pretend to look forward to autumn to make it a bit easier for us. Your borders look stunning in spite of the drought, Frank, can’t believe it. Love the dahlia border and how cheeky to through some chillies in among the flowers and grasses! Keep your chin up and enjoy that fab terrace as long as possible. I’m sure we’ll get a fine Indian summer 🙂

    • bittster says:

      I think you’re right, we seem to be setting up for an enjoyable Indian summer!
      I’ve been enjoying your many end of summer and into autumn photos on Facebook, you are rich with color and interest there as well!

  11. Non-waterers of the world, unite! We have nothing to lose but our hoses! 😉

    Seriously though, your garden looks great and very colorful still. One good thing about autumn is that the mosquito population usually drops off, which is always a good thing (I am their blue-plate special.)

    • bittster says:

      I pity you and your mosquito attracting capabilities. My father is also one of the sweet blooded who attract more than their fair share of flying pests, so know that there is company in your misery.
      Here the pest d’jour are the small black gnats which cloud up around your face and insist on landing in your eye in addition to biting your ankles. They love all blood types equally so it’s very democratic in the garden as far as annoyances go.
      …and still no real rain, hence no green grass (although I did run the sprinkler out front to keep it on a slight drip of life support)

  12. pbmgarden says:

    Your garden is looking wonderful. The dahlias make a nice statement and I love the use of the peppers. I’ve never had much luck with them but they are striking in a fall garden. Enjoy the last days of summer. You’ll transition seamlessly in autumn.

    • bittster says:

      Peppers seem to be a tricky thing. They look great at the garden center yet don’t do much afterwards. I guess it’s one of those disposable things to just put out and enjoy.
      The homegrown ones seem a little more productive, and I’m enjoying them enough to probably go through the process of seeding them out again next year.

  13. You have planned well for late summer drama and your garden looks great ! I love your peppers , blue fescue , cannas, dahlias and grasses . It is quite miraculous how a little water will effect a stressed plant. I hope your weather pattern shifts to bring you some relief this week . Best wishes WG

    • bittster says:

      A little late but I think next week will bring a little rain and a start to autumn. Hopefully my late summer color will carry through and take the garden into the first frost…. and if it doesn’t that’s just another excuse to buy and plant more spring bulbs!

  14. Is it my imagination or did you redesign your blog? When it came up I did not recognize anything but the name. I like autumn as long as I don’t think about what it means. I did so much gardening in 90 degree weather getting ready for our August garden tour that I am happy to be back to cooler weather. Just not quite so cool in the morning would be nice. Your garden has much more color and energy than mine does at the moment — especially since I pulled out the rampant Jp. anemones last spring.

    • bittster says:

      The end of the growing season may not be anything to look forward to, but you’re going to have a great spring! All the newly planted garden niches and the absence of a major makeover looming over every decision will really make for a fun time. Even with a little more summer color here I’m a bit envious of the position you’re in. Hard work does pay off!
      The blog design is still the same but I think with browser updates going around it might be coming up differently.

  15. You know, I welcome the coming of Fall for many reasons, some of which is the changing garden, but am NOT one of those that starts whining about it mid-summer. There are enough of those bloggers around. Fall comes the first day and they start the long whine on winter, skipping Fall all together. 😀 My garden is similar with dry lawn and lots of bright color. It is great to have a garden well planned for bloom right up until the snow drops. Great job.

    • bittster says:

      Haha, you mention the dropping of the season’s first snow and I immediately think of snowdrops. All of a sudden winter doesn’t seem as bad for me!
      You mention the focus on whining about the winter and I have to say I don’t mind it actually. I complain about autumn but winter doesn’t bother me at all, I guess keeping busy helps with that.
      I just saw the header for your post on being happy. That will be my next stop and I hope I can find a few tips to share with my neighbor who closes the pool and pulls her annuals on Labor day, and is already whining about how short the summer is in May. Talk about setting yourself up for failure.

  16. rusty duck says:

    I am absolutely in denial. In the States temperatures are generally a lot lot higher than in England and many long for the respite of autumn. I can understand that. But for me, I hate it. Winter is next. I feel the cold and will always long for Spring and Summer. But the garden does look wonderful now, especially yours. It is bright and cheery and to my eyes not the least bit tired!

    • bittster says:

      Yes, your winters (and summers) are far different than ours. I wouldn’t mind enjoying winter flowers in February, but the cold damp would get tiresome. I (almost) prefer the dry, frigid blasts of cold… but then the dry skin resulting from endless hours inside with low humidity also begin to wear on you!
      I guess we’ll just take what we get and keep looking for the positive! -unless one decides to move 🙂

  17. I like your tropical garden – bold color is always welcome, tropical or not. Beyond that your garden does look really good despite the dry weather. I do hope you catch up on your rain deficit. In the meantime keep those cold beverages handy.

    • bittster says:

      I’ll have to admit that many more cold beverages were consumed while we wait for a return of wet weather and autumn temperatures. I like to think I’m a better person for it, but I don’t think it’s benefitting the garden any 🙂

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