September GBFD: beauty in the details

It sounds a bit noble and refined to study the intricate details but in reality the big picture is just a little too ugly to show.  Autumn rains have yet to pan out and the bulk of the garden has that end of summer- waiting to die- air to it, so with a garden full of drought stricken, end-of-their-rope plants, close-ups are clearly the way to go.

best deck plants

A wider view of the watered deck plantings.  With only a few weeks left before frost I’m happy to see my newest banana nearly doubling in size since its August planting.  I love watching those new leaves unfurl!

The closeups will hopefully be a celebration of the late summer contributions foliage makes to the garden.  Yes, I know we’re into autumn now but Christina over at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides celebrates foliage day on the 22nd of each month, and since that date is still a summer number I’m going to use that excuse to hold onto summer for just a few days past the autumn equinox…. well maybe just until next week when the temperatures look as if they’ll drop.

pink splash caladium

Caladium ‘pink splash’ enjoying the unusually warm September weather.  Just foliage color here and although my choice might be suspect it really is an easy plant.  Best of all no dropped blossoms on the porch to clean up. 

Most of the focus right now is on the tropical plants and annuals which are blissfully putting out new leaves regardless of the impending frost-doom.  Let me give them their five minutes of fame before they get thrown in the dark garage for the winter again.  I think I’ve shown the scented geranium ‘Lady Plymouth’ before, but with a pleasant scent and fine variegation it really doesn’t hurt to show it again.  Plus, I am one of THOSE people who think variegation makes everything better, so here she is again 🙂

lady plymouth geranium

‘Lady Plymouth’ perlargonium brightening up the front entry with its finely cut, outlined foliage.

Matt over at Railway Parade House and Garden might give a little chuckle to see such a small specimen of eucalyptus, but here in Pennsylvania I’ve struggled to get it this far.  Last year it was a small floppy mess, this year it’s a bigger floppy mess.  Assuming I can bring it through another winter, my hope is it will show a little backbone and put on some height.  The reddish highlights on the silvery coin shaped leaves are completely unique here and I love it for that… even if the color disappears against the gray decking and white railing.

eucalyptus cinerea

Eucalyptus cinerea, the silver dollar gum.  It has a nice eucalyptus scent when you get close enough.

Something else which is starting to grow on me are the cane begonias.  They always look good, the foliage is cool, and for me they are completely foolproof to overwinter (in an above freezing spot with no water).  All the leaves fall off and they look terrible but come springtime and April showers they leaf out as if only a week has passed.  When I was younger and growing up on Long Island I couldn’t understand why the Coe’s of Planting Fields (now an arboretum) would devote an entire greenhouse to these boring plants.  Twenty five years later I’ve finally figured it out.

limon blush coleus with cane begonia

‘Limon blush’ coleus with a silver splattered cane begonia.  The silvering may be faded due to too much sun and the lateness of the season, but the flowers still keep coming on this tall (4+ feet) specimen.

I’ll finish up with a few more begonias.  September is a few days away from becoming the area’s hottest September on record and practically rainless at just over 1/4 inch for the month, so again the potted plants are helping me keep my sanity.


Someday I hope to rediscover the tags which came with this plant, but for now the finely silvered foliage and discrete blooms earn it a home -even if I don’t have a name.

If I had more shade around here I would surely put these begonias to more use, but siting them is always an issue.  This pink speckled one never even made it out of the pot ghetto this year.  Every week it was another round of where-to-put-it and now I’ll just have to enjoy it as it is.

pink speckled cane begonia

Another unfussy cane begonia.  Most of it’s winter was spent bare root on a saucer in the back of the garage… which is not exactly what you’ll read in Fine Gardening but I like to test limits 🙂

Well that’s my take on September’s GBFD.  It may not be the perfect illustration of the contributions of foliage in the garden but it does show the contributions foliage has made to my sanity lately.  Give Christina’s blog a visit and see what others are doing in their own gardens with foliage this month.  It’s always a good show!