Tuesday View: The Tropics 10.04.16

The nights have taken a turn towards cool here and for the first time it feels like the tropical bed is showing signs of autumn.  The winding down of the season is ok by me, but my fingers are crossed we don’t have a repeat of last year when a single 23F (-5C) night in mid October crushed all hopes for a mellow end to the season.  Frost is inevitable, but a brutal freeze?  Unnecessary.

Tuesday view tropicalismo

The Tuesday view on this first week of October

This Tuesday as I again join up with Cathy at Words and Herbs, I’d like to also give a nod to Eliza and copy her idea of showing a flashback to the earlier days of this season.  Everything looked so cute and tiny back in this last week of June.


Tropical garden

The first Tuesday view.  A few perennials making a show, but the only annuals visible are a flat of small orange zinnias, freshly planted out of their six-packs. 

Things have grown since then and one of my favorite growers has been the annual burning bush (Kochia scoparia).  One by one the individual plants in the seedling clumps I planted out are starting to color and I have to admit I like the look, even though the plants will go brown once they pass their peak of redness.


kochia scoparia

I love all these colors but last week the kochia at the lowest right of the clump was just at its peak.  Only seven days later and it has browned, so I hope the rest of the clump doesn’t follow as quickly. 

Sneaking up alongside the kochia is a new chrysanthemum seedling.  I evicted nearly all the mums from this bed earlier in the year, but I guess this one was small enough to miss.

self sown chrysanthemum

Not the greatest photo of it but a nice enough self-sown mum with small spoon shaped yellow petals.

Slightly less impressive are the late season flowers of ‘white frosted’ Japanese thistle.  There’s not much to them, and some might mention the word “weedy”, but I’m hoping for seeds since the spring variegation on these is great and my only other plant of this perennial thistle died during our relentless May rains.

'White Frosted' Japanese thistle (Cirsium japonicum).

The less than impressive flowers of ‘White Frosted’ Japanese thistle (Cirsium japonicum). 

There’s nothing less than impressive about the cannas and dahlias.  I know I constantly show the same combos, but….

canna Bengal tiger dahlia Mathew alen

Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ looking as variegated as ever alongside the deep red flowers of dahlia ‘Mathew Alen’.  The purple cloud of Verbena bonariensis has been going strong all summer.

The path up through the center takes a little maneuvering to get through.  The purple leaved cannas have pushed most everything out of their way, and the dahlias now sprawl across the path.

dahlias in the garden

Dahlias and verbena up through the middle of the tropical garden.

The resident hummingbirds headed south a few weeks ago and with the exception of a few last stragglers migrating through the flowers have been left to the sleepy bumble bees of autumn.  Monarch butterflies still stop in here and there, but it’s getting pretty quiet as things cool off.

dahlia sylvia

Dahlia Sylvia seems to make a nice spot for a bumblebee’s afternoon nap.

Sleepy bumblebees kind of sum up how I feel about the garden these days.  Maybe it’s allergies or lack of a good night’s sleep, but if you had to put me in camp grasshopper or camp ant I think I’m more of a grasshopper.  I’ll enjoy the sun and last bits of warmth while they last, and just have to hope for the best when the axe of winter falls.

16 comments on “Tuesday View: The Tropics 10.04.16

  1. pbmgarden says:

    Full of color and joy. Soak up every last moment of the flowering season.

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    LOVE the colors in this bed and am amazed to see its tiny, humble beginnings! It is nothing short of miraculous the way gardens grow so fast in such a short time. The dahlias, cannas, kochias are gorgeous – your garden will go out in a blaze of glory!

    • bittster says:

      I had my doubts earlier in the year. The foliage was all so dark, and there just didn’t seem to be enough in the way of flowers, but it’s proven me wrong! I forgot how nice the dahlias can be and I kind of regret cutting back!

  3. Cathy says:

    That comparison from June is just incredible… I hadn’t even noticed there was a path through the bed. I really love the Burning Bush with that peachy Dahlia in front of it. All in all this has been a fantastic display all summer. Thanks for sharing it with us Frank, and enjoy the rest of the frost-free time in your garden! (We had only 2 degrees above freezing last night and the Ricinus is dropping leaves in disgust!)

    • bittster says:

      Oh no! I didn’t realize you were coming so close to frost already… things feel absolutely balmy here in comparison.
      I enjoyed the ricinus this summer, I’m glad a few of the seedlings managed to pull their way through the early wilting and general unhappiness that they showed earlier on in the year. I need to figure out where to put them next year, I think they deserve a prominent spot!

  4. Christina says:

    The first image shows how the low angle of the sun warms and illuminates your view today; it is wonderful!! Your dread of winter is clear in your voice and seems to me to be just as I feel in early July when I know the relentless heat will arrive. Enjoy the last golden rays of the sun Frank and consider the Tropical border a great success in 2016.

    • bittster says:

      We are having some warmer weather (not hot at all though) and overcast skies. I really enjoy this kind of weather but hate the bugs it brings out. It’s digging weather and I’ve been leveling the soil which had been dumped next door. Hopefully I can finish up and throw a few seeds around this autumn before things get too cold.

  5. rusty duck says:

    What a transformation since June. It’s been a pleasure watching it grow.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! I’m so happy it took off like it did. I always love the eager growth of a few tropical here and there, but I never expected it to go this far 🙂

  6. Hardly know it’s the same plants/space! We have a few good days followed by a few rainy ones which is making it hard to garden. Lots of things on my to do list before frost arrives.

    • bittster says:

      I know what you mean, the list is always pretty long here as well, and this is my favorite time of year to dig and move things. Right now I’m trying to give the colchicums a little love. The spot they’re in is awful soil, and although they do well enough I’d like a huge patch growing in a spot they love!
      But then on the other hand I need a spot for more phlox, a spot for more chrysanthemums, a spot for more primula, a spot for more iris…..

  7. Chloris says:

    It is fantastic how this has grown into a tropical paradise in just a few months. You sound quite resigned about it, but it must be hard to see this wonderful picture ruined by frost. Let’ s hope it holds off for a long time.
    I have never had chrysanthemums self- seeding. How exciting, is it just like the parent plant?

    • bittster says:

      So far so good with the frost!
      The chrysanthemum seedlings have been very interesting, I’ve seen a few traits carry over but for the most part they are entirely different than the parent.

  8. Your tropical border, Frank, is just stunning!! And still lovely in October — wow! No part of my garden looks that good at this time of year. It is so sad when the first frost hits, and even more so when you have so much to lose. P. x

    • bittster says:

      It is sad when the frost finally comes, but I only really resent it when it comes early and is then followed by several weeks of beautiful growing weather. -but cleanup is much nice in sunshine, so I guess it all works out in the end!

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