October 14, 2013

October color beyond my expectations

foliage

Well, I was wrong.

Last month for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day (GBBD), I mentioned I didn’t think I’d have many blooms for October’s celebration. But my garden hasn't frosted yet!

It’s definitely getting colder around here and some of the local valleys just had a killing frost. Meanwhile some of my blooming plants are doing better now than they did all summer. The last hurrah, I guess.

torenia

Torenia 'Magenta Moon,' for example, underperformed all summer. I bought it as a substitute annual for Impatiens after hearing about the spread of downy mildew in the U.S. I’m not sure I’ll plant Torenia again, even though it's pretty right now. (Note: This was sold as a shade-loving Torenia, so it should have been happy here.)

begonia2

begonia1

At the beginning of the summer, I bought New Guinea Impatiens for my front-porch pots. They all died—must have been a bad lot. So, I replaced them in late June with Begonias (B. semperflorens), and they’re lush and healthy right now.

lamium

After posting about Lamium just about every GBBD for months on end, I decided to give it a rest in 2013—until now. Lamium (L. maculatum) blooms longer in my garden than any other plant—from April (sometimes March) through November.

sedum

Of course, Stonecrop Sedum ('Autumn Joy')  is fabulous now. And it will be lovely right through November. I leave the dried seed heads up all winter for the birds and for winter interest.

marigolds

Marigolds (Tagetes patula 'Sunburst Yellow Splash') aren't my favorites, but they look pretty in a pot with Sweet Alyssum. Plus, they attract butterflies and other pollinators, and they tend to repel rabbits, chipmunks, and insects that are harmful to potager plants.

cosmos

Have I mentioned my love for Cosmos (C. bipinnatus 'Versailles Mix')? I could go on and on, but that would be ridiculous.

echinacea

A few Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) still remain, but they’re lovely at any stage--fresh, dried, buds, or seedheads.

fuchsia

The Fuchsias ('Marinka') are still happy, even though their winged friends, the hummingbirds, have migrated south.

mums

Unfortunately, my Mums (unknown hybrid sport) aren’t looking good at all. After a spectacular show last autumn, they seem to be dwindling. I’ve never pampered them or pinched them or encouraged them in any way in the past. Maybe the effects of last year’s drought are showing now. I might transplant what’s left of them into one spot and rethink that area of the garden.

asters

So many bloggers have raved about Asters, and now they're starting to grow on me. I purchased my first one (A. novae-angliae ‘Vibrant Dome’) the other day. I sort of bought it on a whim to replace of some of the Mums out front, but decided to plant it in the back garden so I’ll be able to see any butterflies that come to nectar on it next year.

kale1

kale2

I’m including Foliage Follow-Up coverage in this post, and one of the standouts is Ornamental Kale (Brassica oleracea). My display near the pond won’t win any awards, but maybe next year I’ll invest in some fancy matching pots.

And finally, I thought it would be fun to review the “new” plants I added to the garden back in May. How have they fared?

grass

Umbrella Grass (Cyperus involucratus 'Baby Tut') is another one of those plants that looks better now than it has all season. I’m curious to see if it will hang on past the first frost later this week. It’s in the same pots with the Begonias. I recently added some Swiss Chard, too. Depending on what survives through the end of the month, it could make for an interesting Halloween display.

foxglove1

foxglove2

The lovely, lovely Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea 'Camelot Lavendar') were gorgeous during the first part of the summer. I also planted some seeds in June, which added seedling plants at the base. Since Foxgloves are biennials, hopefully I’ll have blooms again for the next few years.

milkweed1

milkweed2

I caught the Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) just in the nick of time--before it spewed seeds all over the neighborhood (not that I would mind, but the neighbors might not appreciate it). I’ve harvested some of the seeds, and I'll sprinkle some near the existing clump...without the cottony fibers, so they won’t travel.

milkweed3

The Swamp Milkweed in the pot didn’t do so well. It was spindly for lack of sun, and the slugs took over early in the summer. Maybe I’ll cut it back and experiment a little. The Butterfly Weed on the sunny side of the house is either dormant or dead. I'll find out next spring.

lantana2

lantana1

Lantanas (L. camera 'Sunrise Rose Improved') were great fun this summer, and the pollinators loved them. I will plant Lantanas again next summer, for sure.

hops1

hops2

Golden Hops (Humulus lupulus 'Aureus') is fading now, but it looked great draped around the obelisk all summer. No cones this year, but apparently it can take a couple of years for it to produce.

clematis1

clematis2

And finally, finally…success with re-establishing Clematis ('Nelly Moser')! The two plants trained on the trellises filled in nicely. They’re looking a little messy now as they go dormant, but apparently my multilayer chicken wire barriers worked to keep the rabbits out. Hopefully, the Clematises will be back again next year with even more vigor!

Unfortunately, many of these blooms (and green foliage) will be gone by the end of this week, when a killing frost is forecast for the entire region. But I'm happy to be able to participate this late (for me) in the season.

To see the blooms and foliage starring in other gardens around the world this month, check out Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens and Foliage Follow-Up at Digging.

52 comments:

  1. I just have been browsing your blog and I love it. Last post about the Monarch butterfly was gorgeous and enjoyed reading about the October colours in your garden. The Torenia 'Magenta Moon' has such a special colour, I will found out if I can buy seeds somewhere for next spring.
    I will be your new follower.
    Regards, Janneke

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    1. Welcome! And thank you for your kind words! We are accustomed to lots of color in our upper Midwestern gardens--but usually it's the earthy, warm, vibrant colors of changing leaves. To add multicolored blooms to the mix is almost a sensory overload. I do like the color and form of this Torenia cultivar--it just didn't perform well until very late in the season. I hope you have better luck! Maybe I'll try it in a different location.

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  2. We're in the same stage as you--no frost yet, but it's probably going to come before long. Good to see so many lovely blooms in your garden this late in the year! The Torenia is so sweet, but I've never had much luck with it either. My impatiens, on the other hand, did great this year despite all the scare about downy mildew. Lantana--yes! It's one of my must-haves, especially for hot and dry summers. Love the fuschia blooms!

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    1. Yes, I wonder if we'll have a killing frost at the same time or if your garden will hold out a bit longer. I loved the Impatiens wreath you showed on your most recent post. I must try that, Rose!

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  3. Ah, I think our frost last night was a doozie...It's pitch black out there this morning so I can't see if it's all gone or not.

    But I did notice that the plants had perked up quite a bit last week.

    I do love your Aster...maybe I will put some more in next season.

    Jen

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    1. I have a feeling I will be posting quite a bit about the Asters next fall. I'm a latecomer to Aster appreciation, and I can't really explain why. I look forward to your upcoming posts about your post-frost garden.

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  4. You do have quite a few blooms and I know they are all that much more treasured because the frost is due and November is such a gray month. At least the holidays cheer us up.

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    1. Yes, so true, Layanee. The blooms are much appreciated this late in the season. And the holidays do, indeed, help us get through the dark, dreary days of early winter.

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  5. You have a large amount of blooms! I wonder why the heads on my Autumn Joy sedum turn brown and ugly - not red and beautiful like yours. :( That picture of the milkweed is wonderful. And I heard that mums do well only in complete dark during the night - no security lights, etc. Mine look bad, too, but they are under a light, and I'm thinking about moving them (or maybe just chucking them!).

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    1. Surprising, isn't it? And so many of the blooms look better now than they did all summer. Weird. Maybe it's the effect of the sun rays being slanted at a different angle. I love the Swamp Milkweed--can't say enough good things about it, especially because the monarchs need it and the hummingbirds are attracted to it. Thanks for the info on the Mums. That could be part of the problem because the city just installed brighter nighttime security lights. Myster solved?!

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  6. Did you notice how the stigma and stamens of Torenia change positions from day one to day two of flowering? The stamens also operate by lever action dispensing pollen ony when the levers are pressed. So the flower goes from pollen dispersing using all four stamens then on day two the smaller pair of stamens moves out of the way (the wishbone), and the stigma opens in the same location. See here for more details. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2445194

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    1. No I didn't notice it. Thanks for calling my attention to it! I did notice the unique structure of the flowers, including how the anthers come together and the stamens form a wishbone. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing the link.

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  7. Torenia is my big find this year. I didn't find it til the end of the summer, but you can bet I'll have some next year. Beautiful photos.

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    1. Thanks! I'm thinking maybe I need to try Torenia in a different spot. But so far, it hasn't been worth the investment--at least in my garden. It has only looked decent for a couple of weeks and now it will freeze. :(

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  8. How lovely to still have so many flowers, I love that Torenia, and the lantana. The foliage of the umberella plant is wonderful too, and I see you have a favourite of mine, the Echinacea purpurea, which does indeed look good in all its stages of life and death.

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    1. Thanks, Janet. Yes, it's very unusual for us to have so many flowers blooming this far into October. Some of the deciduous trees have lost all their leaves, and others are brilliant with color...at the same time we have flowers blooming. It's almost too much! Lantana became a favorite when I visited New Orleans. Apparently it grows like a weed down there, but here it's a nearly perfect annual plant for a sunny garden.

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  9. Autumn does have some rather beautiful colors that show up in the garden. Liked the posting you did today. I will be posting some of the Autumn colors from here at the lake in a week. Been out this week taking many photos. See you soon. Jack

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    1. I'll look forward to your autumn post--I know it's stunning over by the lake! We're due for a killing frost this weekend. I imagine it won't hit you guys just yet?

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  10. I can see a rush to plant Lamiums, and maybe some lantana, as a result of this post.

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    1. Ha! If so, I think people will be pleased. :) Both have exceeded my expectations. I'm really going to miss the Lantanas until I can plant them again in May!

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  11. Glad your Clematis is doing well. I like the Golden Hops Vine, I need to get another vertical space to grow it on. Milkweed seedpods are wonderful, I love when they open and the seeds with their silky parachutes start popping out.

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    1. Yes, I tried several years to get the Clematis re-established. And now I'm thinking the main problem was rabbits! Not that surprising, really, I guess. The Hops vine was fun. It didn't take over like my husband thought it might, although it did grow very fast at first. I was very pleased with the amount of growth. I'm thrilled that the Milkweed thrived here--I didn't think I had enough sun.

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  12. The colors of your October garden are absolutely gorgeous.

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    1. Thank you, Dorothy. Usually this time of year, we've had a killing frost...and then it's all about the autumn foliage until the gray days of November.

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  13. What a fun October garden! I plant marigolds in my kitchen garden to deter deer and also to encourage the pollinators. They got really big this year and almost completely took over my raised beds. I had a similar experience with the New Guinea Impatiens as you did even though I thought they weren't effected by the virus. Hmmm... Love the bright pink of your asters! I think they are a great fall bloomer!

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    1. Interesting about the NG Impatiens. I think I'll go with Begonias again next year--the foliage is so lush and interesting, and the blooms are pretty. The Asters don't really look quite like the picture. I couldn't seem to get the light right, but they are bright--more of a magenta/purple, at least from a distance. So you have deer--wow, that would be challenging!

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  14. No frost here yet either, but the dry weather has killed off bloom. You have lovely images of your blooms. I just put milkweed seed in my side yard and am fully expecting my neighbor to cut/pull them out when they grow. She does that to my Black-eyed Susans too.

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    1. Gosh, that is frustrating about the Rudbeckia. I actually have wonderful neighbors, but I don't want to volunteer Milkweed into their yards. I might try to convince them to plant the seeds, though. ;-)

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  15. Glad you still have lovely blooms to show off. They're mostly in my fave pinky-orange shades, and looking very healthy. Frost is something we never experience, but it's obviously a very important part of gardening in your part of the world.

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    1. You are so fortunate not to have frost (or freezes)! I'm very jealous. But you're right--so many of our plants need the dormant stage in order to ultimately survive and thrive. That is the most amazing thing about gardening in a cold climate.

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  16. Życzę, żeby długo mrozu nie było i Twoje śliczne kwiaty cieszyły Cię jeszcze , a szczególnie lantana, którą bardzo lubię. Pozdrawiam.
    I wish that there was a long frost and your beautiful flowers you have enjoyed, especially lantana, which I really like. Yours.

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    1. Thanks, Giga! We are about to enter that cold, dark season. I know you are familiar with it over in Poland, too. Stay warm!

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  17. Beautiful garden photos!
    Greetings, RW & SK

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    1. Thank you! And thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed your recent posts, too. It's fun to meet new gardening friends!

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  18. How absolutely LOVELY! Good morning! I come as a result of seeing that you visited me yesterday and I wanted to thank you for your kind words. October is a fabulous month of color, indeed, and a time to enjoy the other side of the color spectrum! How I love foxglove and all the other rusty-colored plantings you share. We are in the midwest and our falls are just as brilliant as in New England and it is a joy to behold. I just wish the squirrels wouldn't eat my pumpkins! Enjoy every moment you spend outside with these lovely plantings! Anita

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    1. Yes, I so enjoyed your "October" post. I plan to visit your blog regularlly now that I know about you. Squirrels are plentiful here, too, along with chipmunks and rabbits--and they all do their fair share of garden damage. I agree--Midwest autumns are stunning!

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  19. What an amazing amount of colour and fresh looking foliage you still have. Yours is the second GBBD blog I've read that featured the Lantana - I must look into that. I'm generally not an annual plant person but I rather like that.
    Good save on Nelly Moser - I had to chop mine back last week, wrong I know but one of the cats managed to get himself up inside the trellis and was trapped. Happy Bloom Day :)

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    1. I think you would be happy with Lantana. I'm amazed that it's still blooming so nicely--even after nighttime lows in the 30s! I guess that explains how it survives the winter a little further south of here. Oh my--your poor kitty! Now I can't get that image out of my mind. ;-)

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  20. You have some very pretty flowers and foliage in your garden. The Butterfly Weed
    could just be dormant. I think I read on the seed package that it is not cold tolerant but comes back from seeds. I have it in my garden for the first time. Some in the ground and some in planters that I will put in a protected area. It's such a pretty plant and of course a host plant for the Monarch butterfly! Happy Bloom Day!

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement with the Butterfly Weed, Dorothy. I hope you're right! It did flower in mid-summer, but then it just slowly faded back without going to seed. I suppose either that means it died, or it simply wasn't pollinated so the growth went to the roots. Maybe I'll try planting it from seed if it doesn't come back in the spring. I do like it, too!

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  21. You have quite a bit blooming for October in Wisconsin. I will second all the comments about how wonderful asters are. I like them because they are unpretentious, easy to grow, and the pollinators love them. I have found that Purple Dome, which is what I have my garden, self seeds abundantly. So I hope you end up loving Vibrant Dome, because you may soon have lots of it.

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    1. That's good to know, Sarah! I think I'm liking it more than I thought I would. It looks bright in these photos, but it blends nicely in dappled shade in a woodland setting. It will be interesting to see it emerge with the other plants next summer. Thanks for the info!

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  22. Beautiful collection of autumn colours! The Torenia is new to me, had to look it up and I could get it over here too, it’s on my wish list now, maybe I have more luck with it? They have it in 3 colours here. Your white cosmos are lovely so is Fuchsias 'Marinka', and your asters are gorgeous, maybe I should hook up on the craze too, I haven’t had asters before :-)

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    1. Thanks, Helene. Yes, I think you would have more luck with Torenia. That variety I have seems to prefer cooler but not cold weather. London would be perfect! It will be interesting to see how the Asters fill in next year. I know the Fuchsias like London gardens!

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  23. Great post... great color!! I'm hearing lots of folks talk about what a great year for color they're having... we've had a few things color well, but then again, many of our trees are barely starting to turn... with frost coming, that may happen any time in this part of the state! Larry

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    1. Thanks, Larry! It will be interesting to see if we have a warm-up after the coming cold spell. I imagine the leaves are going to change very quickly and then drop. Strange fall!

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  24. After seeing your hops I want mine back! I terminated them several years ago when they started to overtake the garden.

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    1. That was my impression--that they would take over. But, maybe it's because I have mine in a pot and they're in the shade. They filled the obelisk, but they didn't take over any other area. I was very pleased with their growth formation.

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  25. Love the simplicity of the white cosmos which are evocative of my beloved Sydney Opera House which I sang at as a student, mind you.

    Never tire of fuchsia pix.

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    1. Ah, yes, interesting! I never thought of them that way before, but I see what you mean. You sang there?! How wonderful!

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  26. Just catching up...hope your blooms are still going...mine are not but we only had a light frost....just a few blooms here and there but we are supposed to get a freeze this week....snow North of us all weekend.

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    1. Just catching up here, too. ;) Some blooms are still going (Fuchsias, Begonias, Lamiums), others are finished (Cosmos, Marigolds, Lantanas, and almost everything else). The leaves are past peak, too--I missed the peak while I was in London. Oh well. Stay warm, Donna.

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