A Taste of Autumn

Yesterday was forecast to be a gloomy day of rain, with strong winds and a good chance of thundershowers, but the morning surprised me with scattered sun and a breeze almost strong enough to blow away the swarms of blackflies and keep the mosquitos grounded.  It was nice.  It was warm.  I took some pictures and actually did a few things rather than sit inside, and then when the rain and wind did finally come through it happily matched afternoon break time, so win-win!

autumn perennial border

Thinking the weekend would be lost to rain and cold, the lawn was mowed and even edged Friday afternoon.  What a guilt-free way to greet Saturday morning.

Now I’m not going to promise I did anything important or essential, but I did do a few things which have been haunting me like moving Lycoris bulbs and repotting some plants for winter.  Now if that gets you thinking this is a good time for moving Lycoris bulbs, think twice.  It’s probably not, and summer dormancy is probably better, but they’re moved now and that’s something which didn’t happen in August.

autumn porch display

I still love the pumpkins and finally found a use for the peppers which have been sitting on the side of the house all summer.  The coleus also look perfect, but that will change quickly as nighttime temperatures begin to drop.

Beyond that I just spent the morning enjoying the autumn garden.

autumn perennial border

Some lingering annuals and autumn colors on the hydrangea.

The breeze from the approaching cold front must have been carrying a few Monarch stragglers, since every now and then I would disturb a bunch hidden amongst the flowers.  They were all hungry and focused on feeding, not like the lazy floating through the air which the earlier crew was doing a few weeks ago.

monarch garden

I’m glad I deadheaded the buddleia a few weeks ago since it’s brought on one last flush of flowers for these late Monarchs.

I think there were enough flowers for a little rest-stop but with the clock ticking all the Monarchs were gone by early afternoon, riding the winds in front of the approaching rain.  Safe travels!

autumn perennial border

It’s chrysanthemum time, and I love all of them except maybe this buff “peach?” colored one.  Is it the brown grass behind or the hot pink in front, I don’t know, but something is off with these colors. 

On another note, a few years ago a box or two of Minnesota-hardy mums came to this garden and did exceptionally well in spite of neglect and poor planting locations.  During dry summers their seedlings would spread freely and this gardener was quite pleased with some of the results.  Only about four of the original plants survive but only about two of the lost ones are missed, so in spite of the money spent this gardener feels like he made out better than he usually does.

hardy chrysanthemums

Maybe not the nicest color, but I do like the more unusual flower forms of many of the seedlings.

I guess this is where I say mums make nice porch pots and I’ve bought my share of tight pots of perfectly budded plants, and then enjoyed them completely until they dried out one time too many.  If they’re hardy enough they will also do well in the garden, making a nice lump of color for a few weeks anywhere between August and October depending on the cultivar.

hardy chrysanthemums

This orange and gold seedling is nice enough to keep for another year… maybe the pink as well, but I already have a few others which are similar.

My confession is I find them kind of boring.  They’re very neat and uniform, but I like flowers that sway in the wind.  I like to see the bees working through them and plants which keep putting up more buds with larger flowers and unusual petal types.  Once again the dream of a perfect garden with ribbons and pools of fall color falls to the wayside in favor of ‘interesting’.  Oh well 🙂

hardy chrysanthemums

‘Cheerleader’ is the last of the hardy football mums.  I might have to try one more time to get some more which will tolerate my on again off again plant care program because this one is friggin awesome!

Let me just add that ‘interesting’ isn’t always as beautiful as the perfect pots from the nursery.

hardy chrysanthemums

One of my favorite colors are the white with a pale yellow centered ones.  Awesome color, but don’t look too closely at the foliage.

I transplanted all of these in June and chopped them back to sticks and worried a little that they would recover.  They did, but then the endless rains of August brought on overly lush growth which ended up nurturing disease and killing off much of the foliage and blooms.  A note for the better gardener is that chrysanthemums appreciate good air circulation and full sun, and dislike a crowded bed with overhanging sunflowers and milkweed.

hardy chrysanthemums

By now some of the plants are completely leafless.  Some are fine.  A real ‘breeder’ would probably yank all the defective ones…

Of course there’s little chance I’ll address the disease problems.  I’m more of a thoughts and prayers kind of gardener, not one who acts on these things, so maybe next year will be better.  On the other hand I will rip out a few of the ones which don’t thrill me, since new seedlings are much more fun than seeing all the same ones returning next year 😉

hardy chrysanthemums

In another bed this ‘cafe au lait’ color is something I like.  Hopefully this one proves hardy.

Here’s just one more which I like.

hardy chrysanthemums

Pink with interesting petals, but possibly weak stems?  I’ll see today how it fared through yesterday’s rain and wind.

Hopefully no one is overly impressed with my seed-growing adventures.  To put it in perspective there are often seedlings which just show up on their own, and are often much nicer than anything I nurture.

hardy chrysanthemums

Just like that a seedling appears.  Of course I’ll keep it, but maybe move it to a spot which isn’t soaking wet all winter… 

…and don’t think I’m too good for buying and saving a few potted mums and seeing if they survive to bloom another year…

hardy chrysanthemums

Hmmm.  Has the leftover sand been sitting in the driveway since August?  Someone better move it before that same someone accidentally tries to run a snowblower through it in December.

Speaking of surviving for another year, the pots are starting to migrate closer to the garage and their winter housing.  The new bed on the side of the garage has been perfect for keeping things off the driveway… sort of… as I realize there are half a dozen fairly large pots sitting alongside the sand pile…

overwintering tropicals

I suspect this cold front will push all the caladiums into dormancy.  They’ll probably go into the garage first so they can stay out of the rain as they die down.

So that’s the mid October update.  Chrysanthemums and the wait for the first frost pretty much sum it up and given the ten day forecast both will be around until at least the end of the month.  I’m fine with that and I won’t even mention those other things which are starting to preoccupy my every other plant thought.  The first ones are starting to sprout and of course new bulbs have been planted.

Have a great week 🙂

23 comments on “A Taste of Autumn

  1. Looks great! Love Autumn!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! You would shiver to feel the cold today and likely call it winter though. It’s 53F and after a few years in Georgia I bet your blood has thinned a bit 😉

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    In this glorious fall sunshine your garden looks so neat and tidy. I do believe you have been busier than you care to admit. The peppers are darling. Sometimes I wish I had more sunshine to grow such things. We have had 3″+ the last few days. It is a good thing since we have been exceedingly dry once again this summer. The few things I put in the ground lately might have a chance. I dug out one of my caladiums just before the rain. It had done so well over this summer and was down to just a few leaves. They really don’t like these colder nights and shorter days. So it begins.

    • bittster says:

      Most of my caladiums also look miserable. It’s time to start drying them off and bring them in since they’re only likely to start rotting if left the out longer.
      Glad you finally have some rain! I feel bad when plants have to go into autumn dry, and the bulbs need that moisture to start roots.
      It is nice to have plenty of sunshine, and I may even cut a few things down to give even more sun. I love planting trees and shrubs, but that really goes against the sun plan lol

  3. Absolutely beautiful!! 😀

  4. Deborah Banks says:

    I love all of your chrysanthemums, especially the ones with quills. There are not many that are hardy here. Clara Curtis does well, and I just got a taller no-name division from a neighbor that has quills so I’m hoping that one settles in also. I ripped out Sheffield Pink a few years back because it bloomed too late to be worth the space here.

    • bittster says:

      It’s funny that I used to have the same problem with one of my white ones. The flowers would open late and get hit by a frost and end up with brown centers… but over the years we must be getting later frosts because it’s been perfect for the last few years.
      I have to bring you a few divisions next time I see you. I’d be interested to see how hardy some of these are since it’s usually planting them in a soggy spot over winter which has been causing the losses. The original plants were all supposed to be good to 5ish or lower although I’m not sure I believe that entirely.

  5. Kerry says:

    Your October garden looks so lovely! Here in Minnesota I took a chance and planted a few of the potted nursery mums that claim to be hardy. We’ll see! Oh, and your walkway with the caladiums and hostas looks so lush still! Mine have been munched to the ground…oh well, there’s always next year!

    • bittster says:

      Hi Kerry, thanks! Good luck with the mums, maybe ours will be cousins since the original plants came from Faribault growers just South of Minneapolis. They say they’re more likely to overwinter after a spring planting, but it’s so hard to want to plant mums in April… and who knows if that’s really true or not. The good thing it’s always easy come, easy go, with chrysanthemums since any show beyond the first autumn is like a free bonus!

      • Kerry says:

        Exactly! I just stuck them into a few bare spots in my front bed…really not expecting much. But they do look pretty now. I’ll mulch extra around them and not deadhead them…we’ll see! I had one survive for years at my old house after just plopping it into the ground in the fall, so I guess anything is possible!

  6. TimC says:

    It looks great, and a nice selection of chrysanthemums! Give the ‘peach’ one another chance, that combination is better than you seem to give it credit for. Honestly, your whole garden hangs together so late in the season in a way I envy.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Timothy, I shall leave it for another few years, I think I can manage to do that 😉
      Maybe it’s the white one which is the problem. Just too bright compared to the others… something to think about.
      Late season color relies on going to the nursery as often as you can and buying anything which still looks nice in October. Having a rainy summer also helps tremendously!

  7. Eliza Waters says:

    Boy, that lawn edge sure looks neat and tidy. (Nothing in my yard would come close to that description!) I’m impressed with all your mums, mine never come back as I think it is a zone too cold here. With this latest cold front, I think my annuals will bid me farewell, frost or not. It’s been grand to still have lots of vases around the house. I’ll have to adjust to ‘starvation’ rations for the next 6 months, sigh.
    This is the week for planting bulbs, not a chore I relish, but I sure do love the look of them come spring. Have a great week, Frank!

    • bittster says:

      I’m just back on the blog and this post seems like forever ago! We also had our freeze and the summer bulbs are coming out and the tulip bulbs are (slowly) going in. It would be more fun having a lot more time to be out there, but for some reason I don’t mind the work this fall. Having a long, drawn out season probably helps a whole lot with that, I think a sudden snowfall would change my outlook considerably!

  8. Pauline says:

    I’m impressed! Your garden still has so much colour in it, I don’t know where to start. I like the peach mum/ grass combo and would get rid of the pink, but then that is just me. Love all your different mums, they certainly provide lots of colour.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Pauline. I would like to have something else next year other than the pink zinnias… that something else might be overly-bright orange zinnias, but at least they’re annuals and there’s always hope for a next year if it’s just annuals 😉

  9. Paddy Tobin says:

    The garden is looking very beautiful so don’t criticise the chrysanthemums too much as they are making a wonderful contribution!

    • bittster says:

      Thank you. We’ve had a strong freeze since, and many of the chrysanthemums are browned… so I’m far less critical and much more excited over anything in flower these days.

  10. I have to agree with Lisa that things look neat and tidy. Love those white mums and the peachy/yellow/orange group you don’t care for. I have given up on potted mums from the nursery. Too fake looking for me. Your garden still looks so good. Mine has mostly given up the ghost; the different between the east and midwest.. It’s supposed to get up to 69 today and tomorrow, so time to plant bulbs.

    • bittster says:

      Ouch. Nearly a month since you’ve declared the start of bulb planting season and I’ve still only just started (last weekend)!
      Things here have wound down as well with a week of fairly solid freezes and most of the color has been frozen out as well. There’s still a little fall foliage but I won’t complain about the winding down, since this is pretty late for us.

  11. Pamela Hubbard says:

    Like you I find mums rather boring–they are not a favorite of mine. But your beautiful pictures may make me change my mind! I especially love that ‘cafe au lait’ color! Your October garden is pretty impressive. P. x

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Pam 🙂
      I think this year the mums helped me through a lot of wet and grey days. They didn’t enjoy it but at least they tried, and that’s always a plus!
      -but to be honest I ripped several out since the rain made a bunch of them into complete messes.

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