Must. Make. Post.

The endless gloom of this year’s weather cycle has finally started to get to me.  Even in a good year I’m not the most enthusiastic garden worker, but when the overcast and rainy days come one after another, and the ground is in a constant state of squish, I really don’t feel like much of anything.  Good thing it’s finally the natural time of fading decay that others fondly refer to as autumn.  I guess I can let it all slide without a guilty conscience and then hope that the winter winds do my cleanup for me 🙂

street border in autumn

To be honest I did go along the street border and do a little cleaning up of dead things and overly lush grass growth.  I feel like the dogwood seedlings have colored up exceptionally this autumn!

A lack of life giving sunshine and constant moisture must favor a colorful death process because whatever the endless rain hasn’t moulded up is showing a wonderful range of pinks and purples.  Usually the hydrangeas go straight to brown, but this year even ‘Limelight’ has taken on a bright pink hue.

limelight hydrangea autumn

The colors of autumn with a promise of spring in the tight buds of next year’s dogwood blooms.

Frost has taken down the bright annuals out front, but asters, grasses and plenty of yellow foliage remain.

front border autumn

‘Golden Sunshine’ willow makes a nice yellow accent alongside the pinks and purples.  It’s really enjoyed the rainy summer and one in the back yard has probably put on a good ten feet of growth this summer.  All of the willows will be cut back to the ground this winter.

All the tropicals which earned a spot indoors have come into the garage, but my one potted candlestick bush (Senna alata) still gets dragged outside for warmer spells.  It’s managed to put out a few weak flowers and of course I’m thrilled to get it this far.  Maybe I can cut it back and overwinter the plant indoors, but I’ve killed enough plants over the years that I don’t have all that much hope of pulling that off.

candlestick bush senna

Candlestick bush soaking up the last of the above freezing weather.  

While we’re over by the garage I can’t help but think that the ‘Green Giant’ thuja is going to need some attention one of these winters.  It’s a big tree and I’ve got it planted ten feet from the garage and maybe four feet from the walk.  When I planted it ten years ago the plan was for a quick screen from the house next door, and it’s done a great job, but trimming is not something I want to deal with every year.  Even with a ladder I can only safely reach about halfway up so I’m considering either leaving them go for the next five or ten years, or topping them and giving them one harsh trim and see what happens.  A review of previous experience leans heavily towards doing nothing for the next ten years and then suddenly cutting them to the ground one morning when I need a spot to plant my latest, newest, most amazing plant.  We’ll see.

green giant hedge

I have to confess a love for arborvitaes.  They’re common and maybe even overplanted, but I love them.  Here are my ‘Green Giants’ growing just like they should, planted in a spot where perhaps they shouldn’t.  

Following the confession of poor planting decisions here are a few autumn colors to distract.

fall color Syneilesis aconitifolia

The shredded umbrella plant (Syneilesis aconitifolia) coloring up for the fall.

Following this weekend’s rain I’m sure leaf cleanup will need to begin.  I know I claimed to be considering waiting for the winter winds to take care of them all, but I’m far to greedy to give up the leaf mulch.  A few rounds with the lawnmower should get me enough to mulch some of my most special plantings.

autumn color

The compost pile is there to the right, the full wheelbarrow just ten feet to the left…. am I really that lazy that I couldn’t just make it all the way?

More fall color to distract.

fall color stewartia

Stewartia is always a star for fall color, especially when not coming off months of drought.  

Not to change the subject too much, but just as my wonderful teepee of spanish flag vine (Mina aka Ipomoea lobata) was finally coming into bloom, the temperatures dropped just enough to frost the bulk of it, so here’s a single sad photo of all that’s left, rather than a ten foot high pyramid of celabratory oranges and reds.  Fortunately some snapdragon vine (Asarina scandens) held up to the cold with their cool little purple flowers, and some chrysanthemum followed along behind, also pretending to be climbers.  I may just skip the flag next year and go all snapdragon.

fall flowers asarina

The last lingering flowers in the ‘vegetable’ patch. 

Here’s one last treat.

galanthus peshmenii

Galanthus peshmenii, new this year and my first attempt at growing a fall blooming snowdrop outdoors.

So that’s it from this end of Pennsylvania.  I saw a dash of sunshine just a few minutes ago but just the fact it’s stopped raining is a big step forward in my opinion.  Let’s hope at least one day this weekend offers the garden and the gardener a chance to dry out and get something productive done.  All the best!

26 comments on “Must. Make. Post.

  1. Be still my beating heart! A fall snowdrop and that gorgeous clump of Cyclamen foliage; two things most of us would kill for. Love your yellow willows; they make a great statement and a perfect scale for the bed. I am impressed that is what happens when you cut them back. My umbrella leaf was a brown blob this fall; don’t think it’s ever colored up as nicely as yours. Our very wet year has dried up with three weeks with no rain, fairly gray and no Indian Summer to speak of. Waiting to see what weather comes next.

    • bittster says:

      Honestly Linda, the Cyclamen purpurascens has never looked better than it does this autumn. All the rain over the summer has made this one and a few others explode in size, and I thought for sure they’d rot instead… like a few of the C hederifolium did. Besides looking so lush right now, this one also does the best job overwintering. Coum and hederifolium often lose their leaves but purpurascans always pulls through!
      Hope you’re doing fine with that cold spell. I guess it’s time, but I’m never thrilled when the first front actually rolls through, and it’s supposed to hit us today.

  2. Chloris says:

    You have some lovely autumn colour. I love the Senna, does it set seeds?
    G. Peshmenii loved and lost here, but I have G. reginae-olgae and G. elwesii ‘Barnes’ in bloom.

    • bittster says:

      The Senna did not manage to set seeds this summer although that’s how I grew it.
      I’m hoping to the extreme that this upcoming winter is a mild one since I’ve planted out a few autumn and winter blooming snowdrops. Previously they would grow under lights in the garage, but I know how careless I can be in caring for a potted plant, so out they went and I’m hoping for the best! I do have a tiny sprout on Barnes but it’s turned cold today so I don’t now what will happen.

  3. Looks pretty good to me. I like how that boxwood hedge by the compost pile is coming along. I happen to have Hot Plants for Cool Climates checked out of the library, and they say that senna grows so fast from seed it’s not worth wintering over.

    • bittster says:

      “Not worth wintering over” is the advice I never take, and I always feel silly in January when it’s confirmed that the plant did indeed die. You can probably guess that I keep doing this, just with different plants each winter. Some day I’ll learn!
      The boxwood hedges look so nice and green and neat right now it has me wanting more hedges. That’s another thing I’m sure I’ll regret someday as I’m dripping sweat in August trimming everything!

  4. Paula says:

    Great to see the success with the “bird poop” drop 🎉🎉😉

    My umbrella plants never make it past summer…they shrivel up, and look so ugly I have to cut them down. Difference in elevation ?

    • bittster says:

      I love the little bit of bird poop on a stick 😉
      All the rain probably helped the shredded umbrella, but it usually hangs on until the end around here. Maybe it is the slightly cooler summers.

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I am sure your heart is glad with your first galanthus of the season. I am quite green with envy seeing your cyclamen. I can’t seem to grow it. The vines you have in your garden are pretty. I don’t seem to remember seeing them before. I might give them a try next year. Cheers.

    • bittster says:

      Yes, I’m very excited to see the first snowdrops up. Just three or four months until the next ones appear! 😉
      I tried vines in a few spots this year. I’ve always loved them but never know what to do with them, so this spring I spent some time putting up supports and it’s worked out well! I’m sure I’ll go overboard next spring since I’m already planning on trying a bunch more, this year was more of a pilot program I guess.

  6. rusty duck says:

    Fabulous autumn colour down your way. I envy anyone who can successfully grow special snowdrops in the garden, never mind autumn flowering ones. Mine have to be cosseted in pots. It doesn’t stop me trying again and again though. One year I will crack it. Either that or file for bankruptcy.

    • bittster says:

      The snowdrop thing is a ridiculous exercise in nonsense, isn’t it? But I can’t seem to shake it!
      You of course are being modest, the sweep of regular galanthus you have is much nicer than anything in this garden, and trust me when I say the future of this lonely drop is far from secure!

  7. It seems the autumn color around here was slow to come and quick to depart. You do have some nice color, though, and I love the Candlestick Bush (it’s a perennial, though, right – not a bush?).

    • bittster says:

      Looking outside at the cold bleakness that last night’s wind have brought I have to say that our color sure doesn’t last all that long either. For a few days it’s beautiful but it really does go quickly. I bet our cooler nights here in the mountains help a bit, and we don’t get quite as much weather rolling in across the plains like you do. For once the rocky hilliness here has paid off!
      The candlestick bush is the tropical version, so I guess it could be whatever you want. I’ve seen it called bush, or small tree, or annual as is the case for me.

  8. Peter Herpst says:

    Lots of nice autumn color to distract but your garden is still looking so good that distractions aren’t necessary.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Peter. Glad you can’t see the mess out there today! Lots of rain, it’s windy and cold, and there are leaves everywhere. It’s definitely a second coffee, no rush to get out there, morning!

  9. GREAT post as always. This time of the year always comes and spring is on its way. While the cooler temps are OK, the flower beds look beaten after the “F” and the leaves are falling like crazy. There are several maple trees in the yard which give a lot of nice mulch, but the thought of clean up… I moved the potted plants inside before the “F” but then I moved a few back on the porch. It’s always strange how we get ZAPPED then it warms up again…

    • bittster says:

      I saw your last post and I’m guessing the plants haven’t moved back to the porch just yet. I really don’t like the zaps of cold either, but at least for us here, November is a decent time for it. Last year it hit in mid October and made for a real dull rest of autumn. Most things just turned brown or hung onto the leaves all winter.
      I just run the mower over the leaves and hope for the best until spring. Raking leaves is for people who are looking for reasons not to go to the gym!

      • Most of the plants are definitely in for the winter now. There are a few plants that can still go out on warmer days but may need moved back inside in the evening. That can get time consuming. Our first ZAP is usually sometime in October then it warms up again… Last night the temp was supposed to get down to 15…

  10. what a wonderful garden.
    have a great day.

  11. A fall blooming snowdrop??? Hmmmmm ….. 🙂 By the way, I am with you all the way on “windy leaf cleanup”. At this point the winds have been against me, blowing all the neighbors’ oak leaves my way but I am hoping for a reversal of fortune, i.e., wind direction this weekend!

    • bittster says:

      Well that figures. You get rid of all those oaks and now the winds turn on you. It’s still early though, there are plenty of winter storms yet to come, and right now there’s enough snow that you have an excuse to leave them 😉
      I broke down and bought two species peony seedlings this spring. How are yours doing?

      • I’ve been meaning to write an update on that. Sadly, only four survived through the summer and I’m only really confident about three. It’s partly my fault because I forgot to feed them on the schedule I should have, and with the recent exterior renovations they got shunted around too much, sun-wise. I finally sunk the cloth pots in the ground in late September and crossed my fingers. The site isn’t ideal but was the only one that was both (a) poison ivy- and Houttonyia-free and (b) totally out of the the way of the reconstruction crews. :-/

  12. We all feel that gloom from time to time. Thank goodness the garden comes to life again and the sun will shine!

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