October 15, 2017

New Blooms in October

allium ozawa

I'm sneaking in with this post for October's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Many of the plants that were blooming in September continue now, since we haven't had a frost yet.

Since time is short, however, I'm sharing only a few flowering plants--six that are new to my garden this year. The purple Allium (A. thunbergii) 'Ozawa' shown in the first photo above is blooming under the dappled shade of the old Oaks.

borage flowers

Borage (Borago officinalis) is yielding more pretty periwinkle flowers now than it did earlier in the season.

borage salad

They make pretty toppers for our salads.

tropical milkweed

Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias currassavica), grown from seed, continues to put out buds and blooms. I doubt the seedheads will have enough time to mature before the first freeze, although it could be a couple of weeks yet.

figaro dahlia

The Dahlia 'Figaro Yellow Shades' I planted in several pots are still vibrant. I'm contemplating whether to dig out the tubers to save for next year.

bubblegum petunia

The combination of Petunia 'Vista Bubblegum' paired with Sedum 'Lemon Coral' in a hanging basket makes me smile every time I see it. These were gifts from Proven Winners at the August Garden Writers Conference in Buffalo, N.Y.

zahara zinnia

Zinnia (Z. elegans) 'Zahara Sunburst' is a short (about 12 inches) beauty in the front border of the potager. I'll probably harvest some of the seeds for next year's garden, along with seeds from other Zinnia cultivars.

That's all for now. For more October blooms, head on over to Carol's May Dream Gardens for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

October 13, 2017

Horticultural Highlights in Chicago

Lurie 1

Back in August, a group of Midwest bloggers and gardeners met in the Windy City to tour several gardening and nature sites. The event was hosted by Jason and Judy, bloggers at Garden in a City.

Our first stop was the incredible Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. Wow, I knew it would be impressive, but words and photos are inadequate! After all our family trips to Chicago and the suburbs, I'm embarrassed it took this long to see Lurie Garden.

Lurie 2

It was a joy to see such a rich tapestry of colorful forbs, including many native plants, framing the architecture of Chicago's skyline.

Lurie 3

The light was fabulous, and many native wildflowers, like Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), were still in bloom.

Lurie 6

Lurie, designed by a team of notable horticulturists and landscapers, including plantsman Piet Oudolf, is all about waves of plants. Here: Autumn Moor Grass (Sesleria autumnalis) partnered with Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum) and Threadleaf Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii).

Lurie 5

I enjoyed this eye-catching pairing of Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) with Purple Love Grass (Eragrostis spectabilis).

Lurie 4

Layers of grasses and forbs--with Fountain Grass (Pennisetum) the focal point at the time--illustrated how Lurie Garden was designed for visual interest in all seasons.

Montrose 1

After lunch, we headed to the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary. In late summer, the plants and pollinators were in full swing, including this bumble bee on Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana).

Montrose 2

Other pollinators, including this swallowtail, were enjoying the nectar of Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) and other native forbs.

It was fun to see wild native plants in the middle of the city, including:

Montrose 3
Hardy Hibiscus (H. moscheutos) flanked by Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) and others

Montrose 4
More Monarda among a field of yellow composites

Montrose 5
Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)

Montrose 6
Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum), with Chicago skyline

Bahai  1

Our next destination was the Bahá'í Temple in Wilmette.

Bahai 5

Swaths of blooming annuals and perennials framed fountains and walkways around the temple.

Bahai 2

As always, Verbena (V. bonariensis) was a favorite with the pollinators.

Bahai 3

This beautiful yellow rose captured my eye, but I didn't see a plant label.

Bahai 6

Plentiful Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) welcomed Monarch butterflies and caterpillars, along with other pollinators like this nonaggressive great black wasp.

Bahai 4

A little photography fun with Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden, and friend and fellow gardener, Becky.

Evanston 1

Our last stop was the incredible Evanston garden of our hosts, Jason and Judy, bloggers at Garden in a City. Wow, look at that floral welcome along their walkway!

I took too many photos throughout the day to include them all here, but here are a few favorites from Jason and Judy's garden:

Evanston 4
Honey bee on Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Evanston 3
Bumble covered in pollen on Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)

Evanston 6
Great Blue Lobelia (L. siphilitica)

Evanston 5
Damselfly beyond Woodland Pinkroot (Spigelia marilandica)

Evanston 2
Tiny black swallowtail caterpillar on Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

It was a great day--perfect weather, fabulous gardens, and great company! Thanks to Jason and Judy for hosting!

September 27, 2017

Plant of the Month: Purple Coneflower

echinacea 2

Yes, I know Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a common North American perennial found in many gardens. Perhaps that's why I haven't featured it as "plant of the month" until now. Maybe I take it for granted.

echinacea 1

Though most of us are familiar with this beautiful, tough, flowering plant, many probably aren't aware how well it will grow in dappled or partial shade conditions. I've had it growing in the latter for many years--in my west-facing potager, where it gets bright sun for half the day. The initial plants have reliably regenerated every year for nearly two decades.

coneflowers and asters

I introduced Purple Coneflower to the Oak-shaded back garden only a couple of years ago. It's taken a bit longer to get established there, but it's beginning to fill out and add its own special magic to its new location. With the south-facing back garden in dappled shade, the plants receive little glints of light throughout the day. When the sun's rays hit it just right, the plants' glowing-orb seed heads appear to be ablaze.

In shade, the blooms last longer, too, which is another pleasant discovery. So from bud in late May through final bloom in late September and seed heads in winter, this plant has staying power in dappled shade!


If you don't have any Echinaceas in your garden, you might want to consider them for their ease of care, drought-tolerance, beauty, and long life. They're also great cut flowers, they attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and they provide special value to native bees. In autumn and winter, the seeds offer nourishment to hungry birds.

A few more specifics about Purple Coneflower from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center:

  • Native to most of Eastern and Central North America;
  • Tolerates a wide range of soil types and moisture conditions;
  • Height: 2-5 ft.; Width: 1-3 ft.; and
  • Flowers are pink to purple, (I've found the hues are softer when grown in shade).

This common beauty is hardy in zones 3 to 10. The name Echinacea comes from the Greek "echino," meaning hedgehog--referring to the spiky cone disk at the center.

I find the stages of the flower development beautiful to watch as they transition through the growing season.


echinacea 6

echinacea 8

echinacea 7

echinacea 5

echinacea 3

coneflower autumn 2

coneflower autumn 1

seed head

Definitely a great plant for sun, partial shade, or even dappled shade.

echinacea 10

I'm linking this post to Gail's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. Head on over to learn about other wildflowers blooming around the world.