Let’s Pretend

They say summer ended last weekend and we’re now into fall.  I saw pumpkins on porches and people buying chrysanthemums and I thought I’d be ok with a switch in seasons but apparently I’m not.  Regular rains have made the garden green again, and although it wasn’t enough to penetrate the maple foliage and give relief to my dry shade, nothing really looks like it’s at death’s door, so it’s unfathomable for me to understand why anyone could wish for it all to be on it’s way out.  I love summer.  I love the longest days of the year and warm nights filled with crickets.  I love saying it’s too hot, and then sitting around for an hour instead of working.  I don’t want it to end.

front border

An oddly neat and green scene.  I’ll call it the Covid effect meets moisture laden tropical storm systems.

Today after getting home from work we closed the pool.  My mother in law can’t wait to get the cover back on as soon as Labor Day is over, and I’m surprised she hasn’t already yanked all the New Guinea impatients out of the planters and tarped all the porch furniture as well.  I don’t get it.  I’ll milk this weather for at least another month and a half and then hope for two, since in my opinion winters are far too long around here to rush this warm weather out the door.  Still, no amount of sarcasm or complaints of sweatiness and hot forecasts could change her mind.

front border

It may not look it, but along the street is also exceptionally neat, considering the usual sunflower and fennel overgrowth.

So in her mind summer is dead, but I disagree.  My garden seems to peak towards the end of August, and then lingers through September with all the bright colors of summer keeping it hot and vibrant in spite of the fact you can’t cool off in the pool any more.

rudbeckia triloba prairie glow

Rudbeckia triloba ‘Prairie Glow’ may be a little stunted from July’s dry spell, but it’s still an excellent show in the depths of the front border. 

I deadheaded butterfly bushes and whacked back fennel last weekend, and the garden looks pretty good again.  I highly recommend plenty of late bloomers to keep things from going to heck once August rolls around.

buddleia royal red

One of the older butterfly bushes, Buddleia ‘Royal Red’ has a nice height and grace that many of the newer hybrids lack.  Yes, I know it’s not really red.

Even if you can’t keep things in full bloom, there are always grasses.  They look good on their own right, but also do a good job covering up the less than impressive June and July bloomers.

ornamental grass border

Along the street, Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’, ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass, and russian sage (Perovskia) have enjoyed the drier weather and lack of towering sunflowers… plus I ripped out a ton of echinacea and mountain mint.

I guess late summer grasses are a seasonal look.

geranium rozanne

Geranium ‘Rozanne’.  I’m about ten years late in raving about how nice it is, but it is.

When everything dried out I thought this would be the year I replant bearded iris all over again, but only a few went in before the rains returned.  Maybe next year I’ll be more firm.  Come to think of it the Arundo donax grass at the end really has become a little overwhelming, and groundcover junipers?  So boring when a big patch of iris in bloom could give me some inspiration (says the person who will be grateful in January when the juniper is green).

front border

I like certain dead and dying things, but not until November!  Much was chopped back and I think the less is more look works out alright…  although my neighbors would laugh if I tried to convince them this is a “spare” look 🙂

New iris or not, the front border looks ok but the tropical border isn’t even close to calling it quits.  I was hating it in spring, and cut way back on the spring planting here, but it’s still plenty of too much.  Maybe not tropical, maybe more just a mess of annual color, but just think of how much more tolerable it makes the September Slide.

tropical border

The cannas are practically dwarfed this year, but a few other things enjoyed the drier soil.

Honestly I can’t believe I made it through all the work of prepping, planting, staking, mulching, deadheading, weeding… but I did.  Most of it was just a matter of putting my phone down for a while and getting off my lazy….

Tsuki-Yori-No-Shisha Dahlia

A gift last year, this year I’ve finally given ‘Tsuki-Yori-No-Shisha’ the care and attention this dahlia deserves.

I’m down to just a few dahlias and it’s so much less work.  Thinking about more is a terrible idea and so hopefully I get at least one more year of freedom before another bout of weakness in February strikes.

cactus dahlia

I do like this peach cactus dahlia.  Others have come and gone, but this one is probably pushing fourteen years with me. 

Dahlias, cannas, elephant ears, bananas…  I never know when the addiction will flare up again.

dahlia mathew alan

Dahlia ‘Mathew Alan’.  As you may have noticed I have a weakness for the cactus style.

For now I won’t even worry about digging or cooling night-time temps or shorter days.  I’ll just enjoy it while it’s here and maybe start thinking about autumn in another month.

salvia splendens

A very subtle, peach colored Salvia splendens.  Growing from seeds can always leave you with surprises.

Have a great week!  The weather here promises to get hotter again tomorrow before cooling off for the weekend.  Not cool enough to make me think closing the pool was a good idea, but at least cool enough to sit in the sun and do nothing rather than sit in the shade 😉

31 comments on “Let’s Pretend

  1. Susan (Su) Wesely says:

    Love your “subtle peach” salvia. Reminds me of my mother, who loved any color as long as it was red.

  2. Pauline says:

    Your garden is amazing, so full of wonderful colour! I can well understand that you don’t want summer to end, enjoy it while it lasts!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Pauline. It’s cool this morning and I’m afraid the slide into autumn is speeding up. We were so warm for a while that this shift to regular September weather is a little unexpected!

  3. I so agree. What is the rush to fall? Sure it is a beautiful and cool season, but without college football this year, it might end up being depressing. Still in the denial/anger stage without The Big Ten, but I’m thinking I’ll get a lot more gardening done this way. With Covid, rioting, the elections, bickering among the nation, this promises to be a long, bleak winter. I may just go into hibernation, but in the meantime, I am going to cherish every cricket, tree frog, and ounce of summer.
    Your borders look lovely and make a very summer statement!

    • bittster says:

      Ouch. I don’t know what this will be like if we can’t escape out into the garden every day, even in March it was decent enough to get a few things done. Wow. Funny I never even considered that until now, maybe I should start shopping around for the warmest coat possible, and a new pair of long underwear wouldn’t be out of the question either!

  4. Paula says:

    I blame the garden centers and big box stores putting countless mums practically jumping into your path even in August. No, no – it’s not time yet!

    Looks great there!!!

    • bittster says:

      I know!! It’s actually hard to find mums in October, and thats when I start needing them… since by then the September ones are dead because I forgot to water them one too many times 😉

  5. My Tsuki-Yori-No-Shisha opened one bloom on July 26th and has yet to bloom again. There are two side buds just sitting there and I don’t know what they’re waiting for. This dahlia is in a container and I think I’ve been watering faithfully (at least the coleus in the same pot isn’t wilting) but I’m not seeing any action. Most of my dahlias are on their first flower or have yet to bloom at all. I’m wondering how I got any to bloom in July that one year my son got marriend and the very first dahlia bloom was in the bride’s bouquet. I think it’s because I started them indoors in April. It really does make me wonder if it’s worth storing them in the basement if I wind up with two weeks of bloom before frost. I generally find September to be a much more floriferous month than August, and the drought didn’t help any. In September some plants are finally blooming, white hydrangeas turn pinkish red, and several plants like roses and foxgloves decide to bloom again. In my mind, there is good autumn and stick season. Stick season is after the leaves have dropped and the frosts have begun their battering. It is probably the worse time of the year because it’s cloudy and there’s no snow to reflect light. Very dreary. Very.

    • bittster says:

      I have good and bad dahlia years and I think it does come down to how much water and fertilizer they get in July and August. I usually don’t plant them particularly early, they often sit on the driveway for a couple weeks before going in the ground (bare root in crates and bags with just a few sprouts forming)… although I don’t think I’d recommend you doing similar! But I think the biggest thing is regular watering. They just sit there otherwise.
      Honestly the end of August is the earliest I want them blooming. When the nights start getting cooler it really brings on the blooms and deepens the color, some of the oranges look almost pathetic in the middle of August.
      Autumn is fun until the trees lose their leaves. All through ‘stick season’ I feel torn between wanting to do more and needing to leave a few things untouched until spring. And everything is just shutting down with so few things to look forward to…. and it’s so dreary….with short days…

  6. Eliza Waters says:

    I’m with you on the ‘let’s not rush summer out the door,’ Frank. Winter is plenty long here, so I’m not very fond of it. The short, dark days are killer. 😦
    So I embrace these last few warm days, even soaked in sweat (which I’m told rids us of toxins). I’m so much more healthy for my days in the sun, my only concession is hat and sunglasses in my ‘old’ age. 😉 I could die happy in a garden, ha!
    Your beds are looking fine and hopefully, they will be going strong for another month, well beyond the equinox.

    • bittster says:

      Heh heh, my worst fear is dying at work! If that’s the case at least make it on the way in and not on the ride home 😉
      My fingers are crossed that we get to enjoy things until mid October at least, mid November would be nice, but things really start too look tired then and you almost hope for a frost to put it all out of its misery and move on.
      There’s still plenty to do (fall seeds I should be planting, lawns to refresh, plants to move), but the mellow days and dewy mornings really fall short in motivating me. I just wander around looking to see if the colchicums are up any further.

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Love that shaggy ‘Shisha’ dahlia. Your garden is certainly looking good for Sliding into September. I can’t wait to get some of that fall rain. Maybe some things around here will perk up. I love autumn but for some reason this summer didn’t seem so bad to me. Sounds to me like you need to be installing your own pool. That way you can leave it open until the snow flies. 😉

    • bittster says:

      Rain is such a critical part of a good autumn. Too little and everything just gives up, too much and the gardener just gives up. It’s gotta be just right so that everything can put in one last hurrah before turning in for the night.
      Our own pool has always been on my mind, but I’m far too cheap to put one in while another is just a few yards away. It’s a lot of work though. I feel like I’m always over there fixing something or running out to get some new chemical, so I can only handle one anyway!

  8. Deborah Banks says:

    Golly, everything looks fabulous. I am planning to take pics later of my yellow berm, which is at its peak right now, but – if I can be frank with you (ha, ha) – it’s just not that exciting next to all your great color combinations. I love the dark red of your Dahlia ‘Mathew Alan’ with the purples backed by the gold and chartreuse. And is that Amaranthus off to the right of it? Wow, what a great red. And of course the grasses look fine. I love the pale yellow dahlia, but I’m with Kathy on this. Why would I put all that effort into something that may bloom for a week or two here before frost. I do have a hardy hibiscus (Fire Ball) in my red berm, and it used to start blooming about a week before our first frost, but at least that has improved. With climate change now I usually get about 3 weeks of bloom before it freezes (and we’re in week one of that count-down).

    • bittster says:

      I’m still waiting to see that yellow bank Miss Banks (ha, ha, payback)! I bet if you can grow all those primula you would be able to add some New England asters and they’d do great… they just have such a short season…
      Actually I’d be surprised if you don’t already have a bunch of asters.
      Into week two of the three week countdown? Ugh. I like to imagine I still have weeks and weeks to go but the calendar will argue that. Mid October is what I usually hope for, everything after that is bonus… although recently we’ve been getting early October and then a week of disgusting warmth afterwards to make you feel foolish for wanting to give up.
      If this next winter is another exceptionally mild one I’m trying hardy bananas and crape myrtle again. It would be a shame to waste an ecological disaster.

      • Deborah Banks says:

        I’ll post the yellow berm pics soon. Trying to catch up on some other obligations first.
        I don’t need to plant asters, the native ones are everywhere. If you mow some of them down, they bloom at 4″ tall instead of at 3′. It’s cute, but there’s just too many of them. Most of the cultivars look too much like what’s already here, though I do add Purple Dome and Alma P, and I like Lady in Black but lost it. Asters are really frost resistant, so they will be around for weeks yet. The hibiscus is one of the first things to bite the dust. And a good freeze finishes off the Japanese anemones, some years way too early.

  9. Paddy Tobin says:

    Your garden and its plants certainly don’t believe summer is over – so, why should you! The garden is looking fabulous!

    By the way, shhhhhh!, the first snowdrops are peeping here!

    • bittster says:

      I just poked around looking for snowdrops. Nothing. I think we still have another month before anything even considers coming up for a look around! Even the colchicum seem sluggish this fall.

  10. If fall means cool weather and moist soil, I’m ready. Still, your garden is very lively. Love your sunflowers, even if fewer than usual.

  11. I confess I am glad for some cooler temps because I just can’t seem to handle the humidity of July and August anymore. I start dripping sweat within minutes even when just standing in the shade holding the garden hose!

  12. Chloris says:

    Your late summer garden is stunning, I’m bowled over by it every year and this year it’s better than ever. I too have the dahlia with the unprouncable name and I am a great fan. Have you tried growing dahlias from your own seeds? Perhaps better not, it’s the slippery slope to another obsession. Keep on hanging onto summer, I’m with you on that, I refuse to acknowledge its over until the first frost.

    • bittster says:

      Can you believe we already had our first light frost!? Disgusting…
      Years ago I grew a few exceptional dahlias from seed. Honestly they were completely below average, but I loved them until hurricane Gloria wiped them out one year.
      I’ve always dreamed of enough room to grow out a whole packet of Bishop’s Children. That would be a dream. Hmmmm. The kids really don’t use all of the lawn for playing.

  13. My goodness, Frank, your garden looks beautiful! Your first picture is truly stunning. My flower borders are crap in comparison. Must confess I bought some chrysanthemums to replace the dead flowers in my hanging baskets and pots. But I, too, love summer and am devastated to see it go. P.x

    • bittster says:

      There are plenty of crappy corners here, and plenty more reasons to place a few chrysanthemum pots around. Actually I may pick up one or two this weekend just because!
      I hope you haven’t been as dry as us. Bulb planting is no fun if you need a pickaxe.

  14. Annette says:

    I absolutely agree with Chloris: your garden looks stunning and it makes me realize that you have far more rain than we do in the summer. It’d be impossible to produce such a colourful, lush display here where things usually hibernate in summer until the first autumn rains finally come end of September. I love this time of year as the harshness of summer gives way to gentler days. We still swim and usually do so until mid November because until January the weather is usually very nice. So don’t be sad about the end of summer, rather enjoy the next couple of weeks in your beautiful garden that must be the envy of the neighbourhood. Take care xx

    • bittster says:

      You are probably much drier, but here it goes back and forth with a wet year or two and then dry. The only reason things made it this summer were for two tropical storm systems which dumped a few inches just when we needed it most. Now we are dry again. 17 days without a drop, but fortunately it’s been cool and cloudy in part due to smoke from California.
      I would love to swim into November. The guardian of the pool insists on closing it the last weekend of August though, so thats it!

  15. Cathy says:

    Beautiful dahlias Frank! I am struggling to comment on your blog and have only just found your latest posts. You have been unceremoniously chucked out of my subscriptions and when I try to follow I am told my email address is invalid! Let’s see if this different browser lets me comment at least….

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