The last few weeks are bringing the Monarch butterflies in. They usually miss my plot on their springtime crawl North, but during their escape to the South they come right through. It’s good timing too as it comes about four or five weeks after I’ve given up completely on the vegetable garden and the selfsown Verbena bonariensis have taken over. Last week they were all over the place feeding and fluttering and during the one day of perfect conditions I counted at least 20 in there at one time. They don’t stay long, but walking the paths and having the large orange butterflies lifting up and floating around you on a warm autumn day is a wonderful experience.
The verbena is clearly a favorite, but other flowers also fill the menu. I don’t think of double dahlias as wildlife-friendly but maybe the color brings in even more dinner guests. I at least think they look great.
My dahlias are not quite where I’d want them to be this year. I’d blame the rains of July but in reality it’s the neglect of August and September which really did them in. Fortunately with some good lighting and a few verbena screening and distracting they still look nice.
I like that the flowers take over in autumn, and I like that the combinations and players change each year as I gain or lose interest in one thing or another. This year ‘Tiger cub’ corn is back. The seed was a gift from Nan Ondra of Hayefield and I love the variegation but I’m afraid it won’t have time to ripen any seed this fall unless things stay warm late. My fingers are crossed. I love how the bright leaves of the corn go with the bright colors of the red gomphrena and orange marigolds. Word is marigolds are supposed to be a no-no in classy gardens, but I still love their carefree color and I like them even better knowing they’re another gifted plant, this time from Kimberley of Cosmos and Cleome.
I like this autumn mess. Lettuce would be nice too but it’s just been too hot and dry and I just don’t have the ambition to start plants in a shaded spot for transplanting. Plus I can always pick it up at the market… unlike butterflies, those I need the flowers for.
Here’s another little surprise which I could fill a whole photo album with. This spring I finally seeded out a few Spanish flag vines (Ipomoea lobata), and although they never sprouted in their seedling pots, they did once I threw the leftover soil into the garden. It’s a late bloomer and like many in the morning glory family it can be a little rambunctious, but in this spot it’s perfect. The spent broccoli seed stalks (I suspect I’ll be weeding out tons of broccoli weedlings next spring) and verbena stalks provide just enough support and when a bed to the left opened up after the potato harvest the vines moved right in. I couldn’t have planned the color coordination with the chrysanthemums any better.
The colors of this planting are the perfect match to my daughter’s favorite orange ice pops… please don’t question why she was eating this while the morning light was still so fresh.
I’m not a pink and grey pastel kind of guy so this bold mix of orange and purple really tickles my color bone. Throw in a few hot pink persicarias in front of the dark foliage of the ‘Coppertina’ ninebark (Physocarpus) and I’m more than happy. I just regret that my photo skills weren’t enough to capture it all together in one shot.
Another thing I regret is that the flag vine planted on the deck has turned out to be a much less vibrantly colored plant from a more refined end of the gene pool. When my seeds seemed destined to fail I snapped up a potful found at my favorite nursery. It’s still a very nice thing, and I’ve even grown a paler yellow version before, but I can’t help wish they all had the darker stems and bolder orange of their more common cousin.
Bold and less bold are still just fine and it really revs up the autumn season around here. With temperatures finally cooling off and a good soaking rain last night fall is officially in full swing here and I guess I’m going to have to finally give up on my whining about the loss of summer. It’s about time I’m sure, and to cheer myself up I think I’m going to get into chrysanthemums next post. Have a great weekend 🙂