September is here and to be honest there aren’t a whole lot of nice things I can say about the month. September means fall is close, and I dread watching the garden shut down for the winter. You wouldn’t guess it from the thermometer, since last week was up into the 90’s again, but the sun is setting noticeably earlier and the mornings are much more dewy than any self respecting July morning would be.
The sunflowers along the street keep a steady stream of birds flying across the yard. Between ripe coneflower seeds and juicy sunflowers there’s plenty for them to munch on.
I managed to make a tour of the garden Wednesday evening after the worst of the heat had passed and since it was far too hot to actually do anything else I at least managed to take a few pictures in between waving off gnats and swatting at mosquitos. That was no small feat considering the mosquitos these last few weeks are the worst of the season, with a thirst for blood unparalleled outside of a salt-marsh, swampland or the great North. They like coming in straight for the face, and as a wearer of glasses I’ve never had to slap at myself so many times while struggling to keep dirty fingers from knocking the glasses right off my face.
The front border in the evening light. I’m pleased to have amaranthus ‘Hot Biscuits’ return from last year’s seed, I always like it when it catches the last of the day’s light. Poor hydrangea ‘Limelight’, he’s had a bit of a flop with all the rain…
With all the rain we’ve had this year, the front border and most of the garden in general looks very similar to last year’s extravaganza. I would apologize ahead of time for showing the same old plants again and again, but I’m pretty sure that’s just overestimating how closely anyone other than myself follows this blog. So in addition to the sunflowers and amaranthus, here’s another perennial annual which keeps coming back, snow-on-the-mountain (Euphorbia marginata).
Snow-on-the-mountain is putting out its bright white bracts to coincide with the opening of its tiny white flowers at the center. These always seem to find a perfect spot to place themselves.
Other annuals took a little more work to get started. The coleus and ‘profusion’ zinnias were planted out in the spring and fussed over for a few weeks before they came into their own. I tried to step outside of my little box by trying some ‘profusion apricot’ zinnias, but really just spent the whole summer missing my usual orange or hot pink zinnias 🙂
Zinnia ‘profusion apricot’ looking ok once it’s out of the bright sun…. In full, hot, blazing sun it looks a little washed out though.
I have no cardoon this summer. I miss it. After nursing a potted cardoon along all winter in the garage, and carefully keeping it in the Goldilocks zone of not-too-hot, not-too-cold temperatures while the weather outside came and went, I promptly sent it to its death once it went back in the ground. Too much rain and probably too much freeze one night did it in, but at least my candlestick plant (Senna alata, aka Cassia alata) has come along to fill the void.
At five feet and counting there are still no signs of flowers on the candlestick plant. It will be stupid of me to try and overwinter this thing, but studies show….
For as much as I love the foliage on the candlestick plant, I really shouldn’t thumb my nose at the other leaves in this garden. On the way back towards the tropical garden my Charlie Brown Christmas tree is finally looking a little better now that this year’s new growth has replaced the scorched brown needles from last winter.
Pinus densiflora ‘Burke’s Red Variegated’. It’s a big name for a little tree, but I like the ‘character’ this tortured little thing is developing. Unless it dies… then less character and more growth would have been a better thing.
Can I show off the tropical garden one more time? The cannas are fantastic this summer. A few in the back have been stunted by some I’m-sure-they-won’t-get-too-big sunflowers, but the rest have really enjoyed the steady rain and generous heat and humidity. Yellow striped ‘Bengal Tiger’ is my absolute favorite.
Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’
Coming in a close second are the deliciously dark and glossy leaves of canna ‘Australia’. I’ve grown this one for years and it’s never looked this nice before, and it kind of makes me regret all the years I’ve been doing this plant wrong… and then I look back at it again and I’m just happy 🙂
Canna ‘Australia’ with a mess of just about everything else.
As usual the tropical garden has become an eruption of growth but unfortunately this year it’s about as far as I get when it comes to maintenance in this part of the garden. Out of curiosity I let the neatly upright switchgrass (Panicum ‘Northwind’) seed out along the border just to see what turned up. Turns out a mess is what showed up. The seedlings are beautiful and graceful, but just too big and broad compared to mom. I’m thinking they’ll disappear this weekend, but my to-do list always has a way of evaporating when I actually get out there.
A froth of switchgrass where a neat little heuchera planting used to be. It would really be a shame to toss them all…
I’m not saying I have a tendency to let things get out of hand, but what used to be neatly mown weeds and grass under the deck has turned into a mass of jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). I like jewelweed. Something about it makes it seem so harmless even when it’s pushing five feet and has covered up every other weed in the bed. Maybe the fact it’s a native wildflower that wins me over, or the cool exploding seed pods or itch-relieving sap the plant produces, whatever it is I don’t miss wrestling the mower around to get under the deck.
Jewelweed filling in under the deck. It does fill the space nicely, and its small orange flowers are popular with the local hummingbirds.
Harmless giants seem to be a dime a dozen out back. Throughout the potager (looming over the last few vegetables) are more yellow sunflowers plus the dark garnet of ‘Hopi Dye’ amaranthus. pink kiss me over the garden gate (Persicaria orientalis) dangles down from 8 foot plants, and annual vines creep all over.
One sunflower managed to place its main stalk perfectly inside the wire of the trellis. I wish more of my plants self-staked.
The potager really only has a few peppers, zucchini, and eggplant remaining. The tomatoes are just a thicket of foliar diseases and a halfway decent patch of celery has rotted away from too much rain. Fortunately there’s always verbena bonariensis. It’s filled in many of the vacant spots, and I hope come September and October the Monarch butterflies find it to their liking. Last year was an excellent butterfly year for us, and I think this year’s migration may be even better!
The garden rarely makes it into September this lush. Green all over, and much of it isn’t even weeds!
One last thing to mention, if only because I think it’s a cool thing. The salvia splendens seeds started in spring were supposed to be a dark purple just like the purples who’s seed I’ve been saving and who’s seed I’ve been sowing. Every now and then one comes up a less interesting, paler color which I get rid of, but this year one showed up with a little more red, maybe a garnet color if you want to call it that. I’ll have to save seeds of course.
Salvia splendens plants in purple and a slightly shorter plant with garnet flowers. They’re late bloomers and I look forward to having them come along at this time of year.
Seed saving and bulbs, I guess they’re the next big cycle in the year of the garden even though I’ll try and put them off as long as possible. It may be September and there might be pumpkin spice showing up all over the place but I’m not giving up on summer until at least the leaves start dropping and I’ve got a windshield to scrape. Yes it’s denial. I’ll think about facing fall in October and to be honest that’s still plenty of fall for me.
Have a great weekend!