September GBFD: beauty in the details

It sounds a bit noble and refined to study the intricate details but in reality the big picture is just a little too ugly to show.  Autumn rains have yet to pan out and the bulk of the garden has that end of summer- waiting to die- air to it, so with a garden full of drought stricken, end-of-their-rope plants, close-ups are clearly the way to go.

best deck plants

A wider view of the watered deck plantings.  With only a few weeks left before frost I’m happy to see my newest banana nearly doubling in size since its August planting.  I love watching those new leaves unfurl!

The closeups will hopefully be a celebration of the late summer contributions foliage makes to the garden.  Yes, I know we’re into autumn now but Christina over at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides celebrates foliage day on the 22nd of each month, and since that date is still a summer number I’m going to use that excuse to hold onto summer for just a few days past the autumn equinox…. well maybe just until next week when the temperatures look as if they’ll drop.

pink splash caladium

Caladium ‘pink splash’ enjoying the unusually warm September weather.  Just foliage color here and although my choice might be suspect it really is an easy plant.  Best of all no dropped blossoms on the porch to clean up. 

Most of the focus right now is on the tropical plants and annuals which are blissfully putting out new leaves regardless of the impending frost-doom.  Let me give them their five minutes of fame before they get thrown in the dark garage for the winter again.  I think I’ve shown the scented geranium ‘Lady Plymouth’ before, but with a pleasant scent and fine variegation it really doesn’t hurt to show it again.  Plus, I am one of THOSE people who think variegation makes everything better, so here she is again 🙂

lady plymouth geranium

‘Lady Plymouth’ perlargonium brightening up the front entry with its finely cut, outlined foliage.

Matt over at Railway Parade House and Garden might give a little chuckle to see such a small specimen of eucalyptus, but here in Pennsylvania I’ve struggled to get it this far.  Last year it was a small floppy mess, this year it’s a bigger floppy mess.  Assuming I can bring it through another winter, my hope is it will show a little backbone and put on some height.  The reddish highlights on the silvery coin shaped leaves are completely unique here and I love it for that… even if the color disappears against the gray decking and white railing.

eucalyptus cinerea

Eucalyptus cinerea, the silver dollar gum.  It has a nice eucalyptus scent when you get close enough.

Something else which is starting to grow on me are the cane begonias.  They always look good, the foliage is cool, and for me they are completely foolproof to overwinter (in an above freezing spot with no water).  All the leaves fall off and they look terrible but come springtime and April showers they leaf out as if only a week has passed.  When I was younger and growing up on Long Island I couldn’t understand why the Coe’s of Planting Fields (now an arboretum) would devote an entire greenhouse to these boring plants.  Twenty five years later I’ve finally figured it out.

limon blush coleus with cane begonia

‘Limon blush’ coleus with a silver splattered cane begonia.  The silvering may be faded due to too much sun and the lateness of the season, but the flowers still keep coming on this tall (4+ feet) specimen.

I’ll finish up with a few more begonias.  September is a few days away from becoming the area’s hottest September on record and practically rainless at just over 1/4 inch for the month, so again the potted plants are helping me keep my sanity.


Someday I hope to rediscover the tags which came with this plant, but for now the finely silvered foliage and discrete blooms earn it a home -even if I don’t have a name.

If I had more shade around here I would surely put these begonias to more use, but siting them is always an issue.  This pink speckled one never even made it out of the pot ghetto this year.  Every week it was another round of where-to-put-it and now I’ll just have to enjoy it as it is.

pink speckled cane begonia

Another unfussy cane begonia.  Most of it’s winter was spent bare root on a saucer in the back of the garage… which is not exactly what you’ll read in Fine Gardening but I like to test limits 🙂

Well that’s my take on September’s GBFD.  It may not be the perfect illustration of the contributions of foliage in the garden but it does show the contributions foliage has made to my sanity lately.  Give Christina’s blog a visit and see what others are doing in their own gardens with foliage this month.  It’s always a good show!

21 comments on “September GBFD: beauty in the details

  1. Hmm. I wonder if our September will also break records for hot and dry? Rain predicted for the 28th and 29th, so maybe not.

    • bittster says:

      It does seem awfully warm for September doesn’t it?
      Notice I haven’t been posting about colchicums this fall? I think the weather got too hot and too dry too fast this spring and they’re doing terrible as a result. Just not enough time to build up flowering size bulbs I guess….

      • Unlike you, we had a wet June and July–and not very hot. The colchicums took their sweet time going dormant, and I still had green daffodil foliage on August 1. But I agree that a dry spring where the foliage goes dormant quickly would mean less or even no flowering that fall.

  2. johnvic8 says:

    A great show for a challenging time of year. Well done.

  3. You have such diverse foliage that are show stoppers…love the perlargonium!

  4. mattb325 says:

    I think the Eucalyptus is lovely – especially seeing how you managed to get one to survive in a garage for almost 6 months at a time! These silver dollar gums can struggle in my zone 8 garden some winters…, so they would hate your zone 6 with a passion!
    I do really like the variegated pelargonium, and they are very drought tolerant. Let’s hope you get some rain and autumn-like temperatures soon!

    • bittster says:

      It was touch and go over the winter. I thought it would do well with next to no water but it turned out to need much more than I thought. The second one actually died somewhere around January.
      You’re fortunate to be able to grow the pelargoniums as perennials, I love their shapes and scents as well as the rare bloom mine manage to put out.

  5. Julie says:

    I really like the close up detail but what does Matt mean when he says 6 months on a garage? Guessing you have super hot summers and freezing winters?

    • bittster says:

      6 months…. That’s the awful truth of our winters. First frost mid to late October, last frost early to mid May. And there’s little chance for a snowdrop before march 🙂

  6. Pauline says:

    You have some really super foliage, love the cane begonias as they have wonderful foliage and flowers too! Yes, it’s all change here too, soon I must bring my pots inside as there will be frost in a couple of weeks.

    • bittster says:

      At least the cooler weather somehow invigorates? I think? A little energy is just what I need when faced with dozens of pots to lug indoors. -and they’ve all grown heavier during the last few months…

  7. rusty duck says:

    My mother used to grow cane begonias in a conservatory and had real success with them. The foliage is dramatic enough even without the blooms.

  8. Christina says:

    I love the foliage of your cane begonias, they are something I should look out for, they would be great on the terrace under the shade of the wisteria. I love their varied leaf colours. Thanks for joining GBFD this month; I’m glad the foliage is keeping you sane, hopefully mine will do the same next summer.

    • bittster says:

      The begonias might work out well for you provided they get a good amount of shade. A few of mine have become less happy with their position now that the lower sun angle is giving them full morning sun. With shade in short supply here I usually avoid the shade lovers. Perhaps I need to start a woodland garden!

  9. pbmgarden says:

    Looking great. Hope you get some rain soon. We finally have some this weekend so I’m enjoying a rainy day indoors.

    • bittster says:

      Gardeners seem to be the only ones happy to see rain come and break up a long stretch of sunny days. I believe the rain may edge up North tonight and give us a little moisture too. I’ll be happy for that!

  10. Chloris says:

    I love your foliage this month. The begonias are gorgeous and I am mad on the pink Caladium. But then I can’ t resist pink leaves. I hope you manage to hang onto warm weather for a bit longer.

    • bittster says:

      The warm weather has fled but for now the caladiums are unfazed. They are truly a hot weather plant and I’m afraid they’ll not be pleased by the onset of autumn. I need to figure out how to overwinter the corms now, I’ve had little success so far.

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