Tag Archives: echinacea

A Garden Review of 2014: Late Summer and Autumn

Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea)

Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea)

Busy with family events this week I missed making a Monday vase and am behind reading favorite garden blogs. But I prepared this entry ahead so I could stay in touch and complete the last exercise in this 3-part review.

As the days grow short and we head toward winter, I have been finding cheer and smiles through a 2014 garden review project suggested by Cathy at Words and Herbs. In the past two weeks I revisited my Spring and Summer gardens. For the last installment of this project, I have selected some things to share from Late Summer and Autumn.


It is amazing to watch certain plants awake each year to achieve great size and presence in the landscape.  At mid-June, a full two weeks before the first flowers opened, Lantana camara (Common lantana) was merely a round clump of greenery, but once blooming it began attracting insects and hummingbirds. By Early September lantana fully dominated its corner of the southern border in color and mass.

Showing plenty of leaves, Lantana camara (Common lantana) June 12, 2014

Showing plenty of leaves, Lantana camara (Common lantana) June 12, 2014

Facing west: Lantana camara (Common lantana)  in the Southern Border and Zinnia in Island Border September 3, 2014

Facing west: Lantana camara (Common lantana) in the Southern Border and Zinnia in Island Border September 3, 2014

Tucked nearby blue Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) looked stronger than usual this year.

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) september 3, 2014

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) September 3, 2014

A yellow passalong iris began flowering again in early September and continued through October.

Reblooming Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Reblooming Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

By mid-month a few more Chuck Hayes gardenias flowered. Unfortunately the shrubs never regained their vigor this year so they are on a long list of things that need attention.

Gardenia jasminoides 'Chuck Hayes'

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

September temperatures were still hot. Autumn officially arrived on September 22 and the day before had been almost 90°F/32°C. The garden was still very green and Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) was full of those funky-colored purple berries.

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

In September the search to fill a vase each Monday kept me more in tune with the garden than normal and I began during this time to gravitate back to the garden, appreciating its varied offerings.

Meanwhile Everlasting Sweet Pea rebloomed better than it had in spring and Obedient Plant was in its prime.

Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea) seems cheerfully content.

Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea) seems cheerfully content.

In A Vase On Monday September 1, 2014

In A Vase On Monday September 1, 2014

Occasionally I found a few fresh blooms of Echinacea around the garden to include in a vase, but most of them looked rather tired. Despite the flowers’ ragged appearance American goldfinches were to them attracted anyway, as was this American Lady. This was the first time I had noticed this type of butterfly in the garden. It was not a strong year for seeing butterflies.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) Preparing For Take-off

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) September 27, 2014

Native Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower) reached over 10 feet tall before finally revealing its sunny color. The bright yellow blooms attracted many pollinators and made the western border positively glow.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower) in Western Border

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower) in Western Border September 27, 2014


A heavy fog moved in the first morning of October and the lawn was covered with dozens of spiderwebs (Agelenopsis sp. (Grass Spider)).  Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage), Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) and Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Autumn Joy) added rich red hues to the garden.

Agelenopsis sp. (Grass Spider)

Agelenopsis sp. (Grass Spider)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Hylotelephium telephium 'Herbstfreude' (Autumn Joy)

Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Autumn Joy)

My favorite red this year was the Blue Bell Dahlia. I planted it in the Northern Border back against the fence, expecting it to be much taller than it actually was. It grew to about 3 feet tall.

Dahlia 'Blue Bell' October 16, 2014

Dahlia ‘Blue Bell’ October 16, 2014

The dahlia’s dark red flower featured prominently in most of my In A Vase On Monday arrangements during October, including one that is my favorite from the whole year.

In A Vase On Monday-2 In A Vase On Monday-3

Monarchs appeared in the garden during the second week of October and kept me chasing after them with my camera for days. Lantana and Zinnias were their favorite nectaring plants as they loaded up to continue their fall migration.

Lantana and Monarch (detail)

Lantana and Monarch (detail) October 10, 2014

Monarch Nectaring On Zinnia

Monarch Nectaring On Zinnia October 17, 2014

After many years of wanting to grow Spider Lilies as my grandmother had done, I finally ordered some bulbs and planted them this fall. When the foliage emerged I realized it will be next year before I see them bloom.

Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily)

Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily) October 22, 1014

At mid-October I was pleased to see the Jackmanii Clematis flowering again in the narrow Southern Side Path along the side of the house.

Clematis 'Jackmanii' In Southern Side Garden

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ In Southern Side Garden October 17, 2014

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

The fragrant Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)  opened around this time, also located along the Southern Side Path. This year only a few flowers had time to fully develop before getting nipped by cold.

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily) October 17, 2014

As the end of October arrived Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower) rallied to produce a fresh display of pristine blossoms and a few blooms of Camellia sasanqua ‘Hana-Jiman’ appeared. Like the Hedychium, this highly scented camellia was a casualty of an early cold snap, but for a few days it looked nice outdoors and paired well with White Swan for an indoor arrangement.

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua ‘Hana-Jiman’


In the first days of November the autumnal colors of Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower) were remarkable.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

A passalong Chrysanthemum starting showing color mid-October and had come iinto full bloom the first week of November, just as the temperature fell slightly below freezing overnight for the first time this fall.



A bargain purchase of red Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) gave the meditation circle some much needed color.

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) In Meditation Circle

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) In Meditation Circle

A few days later seed pods of asclepias tubersosa were fluffy and inviting.  The pair of crape myrtles at the end of the front walkway were shifting from green to rich orange and golden hues.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)-9

Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle)

Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle)

Using Crape Myrtle leaves as a beginning point, somehow I was able to find plants representing each season of the year to include in the “Four Seasons” vase on November 10.  “Four Seasons” referred to the annual cycle in the garden and was my way of helping mark the first year anniversary for Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday.

In A Vase On Monday - Four Seasons

In A Vase On Monday – Four Seasons

By the end of November the garden had settled in for a rest, while I began looking ahead to spring with dreams of hyacinths and Anemone coronaria.

Rainy Meditation Circle

Rainy Meditation Circle

Fall 2014 Bulbs - Hyacinths and Anemones

Fall 2014 Bulbs – Hyacinths and Anemones

A big thanks to Cathy for hosting this 2014 garden retrospective. Visit Words and Herbs to see her own reviews along with links to those of other participating garden bloggers.

Color In The June Borders

During a brief stroll through the garden this afternoon I was struck by the strong colors, including greens, dominating each of the borders.

Fragrance is important too and as I approached the western border to inspect the new blooms on the butterfly bush the delectable scent of nearby gardenia was quite magnificent, powerful enough in fact to overcome the Buddleia’s rather peculiar smell. The color of this Buddleia is actually a bit less blue and more purple than it appears in this image.

Buddleia davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Butterfly Bush)

Buddleia davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Butterfly Bush)

Echinacea is filling out many of the borders currently. The colors range from the pale pink to a deep almost raspberry. My would-be favorite-colored echinacea, the orange Big Sky Sundown, never lasts a season in my garden, so I am resigned to enjoying them in the pink ranges for now.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Hummingbirds and butterflies are enjoying the drifts of bright scarlet Monarda and indoors these flowers last for many days.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) and Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) and Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) Creative Commons License
Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) by Patricia Moffat, pbmGarden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

A large grouping of Shasta Daisy near the back steps is bright and cheerful. These flowers seems to require a lot of water, which I very seldom dole out to any plants in the garden after the first few weeks. After a mostly cloudy day it is raining here this evening, so everything is getting a nice drink.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Late Afternoon In The Mid-October Garden

There were delightful sights, sounds and scents in today’s garden. A large bee buzzed and hovered near my face long enough to fan my cheek, making me smile. Late afternoon sunlight danced atop Angelonia in the meditation path.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

Throughout the garden Echinacea is in various stages of its life cycle. Many of the plants are fading even as new flowers emerge on others.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

More Camellia sasanqua flowers appear daily. The variety of this Camellia is unknown, but it is a highly fragrant one.

Camellia sasanqua

I noticed the first Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ blossom is open. It seems early but actually last year this shrub was blooming on October 25.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

Another fragrant shrub, Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne), bloomed from late January to March last year. Today a dainty Daphne blossom made an early appearance.

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne)

Mid-July Musings

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

‘Chuck Hayes’ Gardenias began blooming at the end of May this year and since then a few occasional blossoms have continued to appear. This particular bush lost several limbs last week when the top of a neighbor’s Loblolly Pine came crashing down during a severe wind and rain storm. The jolt seems to have encouraged a few more flowers.

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Temperatures are heading toward 100 today. A few individual heat-loving plants are going strong, but for the most part the garden is shutting down. There are no lush drifts of color or interesting plant pairings to note.

There are still plenty of bees around enjoying such delicacies as Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes,’ Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue), Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) and Salvia ‘Blue Sky.’

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) began flowering on the last day of May and though it looks stressed from the heat, blooms continue to appear. For the past three weeks hummingbirds have been regular visitors.

Goldfinches dart among the tired and ragged seed heads of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower). For a while longer I can justify leaving the drying coneflowers for the birds, although their sprawling stalks (and most of the garden in general) have become very unsightly. This garden is definitely at its best in Spring.

Summer Orange

The temperature in late afternoon is 90°F. Even early this morning the garden was hot and bright. Orange hues prevailed. The deer have returned recently, but somehow missed this daylily, aptly named ‘Tangerine.’


Hemerocallis ‘Tangerine’ (Daylily)

Hemerocallis ‘Tangerine’ (Daylily)

Hemerocallis ‘Tangerine’ (Daylily)

Flame, Pumpkin, Rust

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Tomato, Vermillion, Orange-red, Coral

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

A Few Garden Minutes Last All Day

Another beautiful day in central North Carolina and it would have been a day perfect for working in the garden, but the day passed another way. Early this morning there were just a few moments to enjoy the crispness of the air, notice the bird sounds, greet next-door neighbors and savor that feeling one gets from being outside among the flowers.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)

Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)

Shifting Palette

Western Border With Gladioli, Liatris, and Echinacea

With Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) now in full bloom, the western border is shifting away from the mostly blue color palette of spring. Similar transitions are occurring all over the garden as brighter colors, rich enough to compete with the sun’s bright glare, are beginning to dominate.

Western Border With Gladioli and Echinacea

Western Border With Gladioli and Echinacea

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

[Unfortunately the garden’s beautiful red-orange daylilies became deer food this weekend. They were ruined  along with the garden’s secret hoard of phlox paniculata.]

Plants of white and silver work well as counterpoints against deep, bright hues such as these strong reds. Silver leaved plants such as perennial Dusty Miller, Artemisia and Lavender are useful in that they can make colors stand out, but they also can provide a restful tranquility to the garden.

Dusty Miller


Some white gladioli are already open; the dense spikes of white Liatris spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather) should bloom in another 7-10 days; and the white delicate-looking but sturdy annual, Lobularia hybrid ‘Snow Princess’ (Sweet Alyssum), is filling out nicely and should make a good ground cover near the Monarda for the entire summer.

Sweet Alyssum

Drought-free Vignettes

Gladiolus and Liatris Spicata

Today it was announced North Carolina is completely drought-free for the first time in two years.

This could change, as surely many hot summer days are ahead, but this remarkable spring with its generous rains has been a welcoming one for flowers in this Chapel Hill garden.

Gladioli and Liatris spicata have grown strong and tall and Hemerocallis (Daylily) looks well nourished. Even native and drought-tolerant perennials such as Monarda and Echinacea are noticeably healthier, with richer foliage and color.

This evening temperature is 79°F, still quite sunny with blue sky.

Early June Garden Characteristics and Aspects

Earlier this spring a six-foot diameter space in the front yard was left bare after removing a badly sited Chinese Elm. A few weeks ago the little area was planted with a mix of perennials and annuals.  Providing some immediate color were seven of the annual Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon), along with a richly colored perennial, Gaura Belleza (™) ‘Dark Pink’ (Butterfly Gaura).

Now the other perennials are beginning to bloom, Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Weiss’ (Gayfeather) and Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower). This spring bees have found many plants to their liking and the Liatris is proving popular too.

Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Weiss’ (Gayfeather)

Front Yard Garden

Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Weiss’ (Gayfeather)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Cleome (Spider Flower) volunteers in this garden every year and has just begun flowering this week along the southern side path. It originated from seeds purchased by a friend at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. She passed some along to me more than a decade ago. Recently I transplanted a few of the volunteers to other areas of the garden.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Gladiolus is an old-fashioned flower that I read recently is enjoying a bit of a revival. I have always had a few gladioli in my gardens, although my favorite deep dark purple ones died out several years ago.


A steady rain fell this morning until eleven. Skies became blue with plenty of white fluffy clouds for the rest of the day, but the temperature remained cooler than usual for this time of year. A brief excursion to the North Carolina Botanical Garden proved interesting and helpful. I was able to identify my pink yarrow in the southern bed as Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow).  Also a very friendly staff member was digging up and trimming back Tradescantia, a task I have spent many hours doing in my garden, so we fell into a discussion about how to deal with it. She demonstrated for me her technique for digging it out so as to get as much root as possible (using a sideways twist). In the end we agreed it can also just be cut back to enjoy again in September.

Last Day of May

Canna and Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Early this morning Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) and Canna waited in the shade as the sun slowly moved to warm these sun-loving perennials.

Echinacea purpurea is native to Eastern USA and bees find it attractive. Later American Goldfinches will enjoy its seeds.

Canna and Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

While it still can this bee should enjoy the Tradescantia (Spiderwort) that abounds in the garden. This week I am making some progress in cutting it back, but am finding it difficult work to remove it by the roots.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Although afternoon temperatures reached 92 degrees, the garden this morning was pleasant and mostly shaded, perfect for welcoming visitors to view the flowers. So when a neighbor and her friend walked by while I was taking pictures in the front side garden, I eagerly asked them to come to the back to see my garden.

This year, more than in any other year, I have felt comfortable with the state of the garden overall and am happy when I can share this place. It is not perfect, of course, but some key garden renovation projects during the last year have made the garden much more cohesive and have given it personality. The meditation circle is one such project and today my neighbor’s friend walked the meditation path, experiencing  a labyrinth for her first time. It was a nice morning in the garden.

Notes On The Garden At Memorial Day

Northern Border

Temperatures reached 87 degrees and the day felt quite humid and summery. The borders appear full and lush, a tribute to the power of adequate rainfall; however, the first flowering period of many plants is past, so deadheading and trimming are on the agenda for this week.

Southern Border

There has been little work done in the garden for the last two weeks, but that must change. The garden is in transition and is very much in need of attention. Echinacea, Gladioli, Liatris and Daylily are replacing Iris, Lamb’s Ear and Tradescantia.

Liatris spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather)

Shasta Daisy clumps will be covered in bloom any day. Meanwhile Meadow Sage should be cut back to encourage more blooms. Nepeta may need shearing soon as well.

Northern Border, Meditation Circle

Monarda and Lantana are teasing with a bit of color today.

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

This weekend in town I came upon a large and beautiful planting of Baptisia and Autumn Joy, all in full bloom. In this garden all three baptisias lost their flowers suddenly this year after a just a short bloom time, but the foliage remains healthy and green.

Baptisia australis (blue false indigo)

Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Autumn Joy)

Paths in the meditation circle are in some disarray lately. The pine nugget mulch being used this spring is too lightweight to stay in place when rains come. Also the mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ Penstemon has sprawled over quite a bit and requires staking again. Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ is so much better behaved and retains its upright place, (although its self-sown seedlings need to be removed soon).

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

The annual Angelonia ‘Blue’ in the meditation circle has begun to grow now that the weather is hotter.

Angelonia ‘Blue’

There will be plenty of tasks to keep this gardener busy this week but with an abundance of flowers blooming and the scent gardenia wafting through the air, it should be mostly delightful to spend time in the garden.

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

After A Brief Shower

An early evening shower splashed onto the garden briefly, leaving the air thick and humid and the flowers slightly heavy, weighted by tiny water droplets.

Sunday Garden Vignettes

The sky was gray since early morning and by early evening soft rain began to fall. At mid-afteroon the garden was a peaceful, serene setting for a leisurely walk.

Echinacea as well as lavender are opening in several places around the garden, just about the same time as last year. Perhaps Spring is slowing down from its frenzied earlier pace. Other observations: Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ will soon be blooming along the southern side path, a bit ahead of that planted in other areas. Liatris spicata is adding feathery softness to the northern border that has been dominated by sword-like iris leaves. Proving to be very weak-stemmed again this year, Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ is falling over into a thick stand of Shasta Daisies. Many of the perennials attract bees, including Veronica spicata, Stachys byzantina, Nepeta and Penstemon. Verbena bonariensis looks strong and healthy this year and the American goldfinches are loving it.

Early May Garden Views and Notes – Part 3

Record keeping: Last in a 3-part series of notes about what is planted and what is blooming currently in the garden.

Yesterday I focused on long views of the garden borders to document what is planted in each section.  But yesterday morning there also were fresh new blossoms that can be best appreciated by examining them close up.


Early May Garden Views and Notes – Part 1

Forecasts warned today would be 92 degrees. Since there are a few new things in the garden I spent some time selectively watering them very early this morning. With the garden still sheltered at this time of morning by shade from the house, it was a peaceful time to be outside.

View from the Southern Border

With the grass freshly mown the garden is vibrant.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort) has moved into every available bit of soil, making the garden burst with color during the morning. By mid-day the little blue-violet flowers close up, diminishing the garden’s overall impact. I began cutting back large swaths of spiderwort this morning to make room for emerging echinacea purpurea, liatris spicata, foxglove and maybe a few more plants.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) has bloomed prolifically for six weeks and is beginning to go to seed. I removed many of the flower stalks today to make the garden look tidier and to prevent further proliferation of this native wildflower.

The one-year-old ‘Blue Point’ Juniper hedge is growing well, although I did notice a worrisome brown branch on one. Probably I need to clear some room around the trees to give them adequate sun and air to keep them healthy.

Japanese irises and white and black bearded irises continue to provide color and interest at one end of the southern border. The old-fashioned rose at the other end of the border is waning quickly. A group of Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) caught the early morning sun as light began to enter the garden.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Unidentified spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.)

Tradescantia or spiderwort is one of the first plants I remember from very early childhood. At the time I did not know its name nor that it was a native plant, but I found the deep purple of its flower so beautiful. Upon discovering that the color transferred easily, I used tradescantia to stain one of the white front-porch columns and was genuinely surprised when my mother put me to work scrubbing it off.

My mother did not garden, but her older cousin did and she became a garden mentor to me. This special gardener introduced me to many plants and was always generous in supplying me with a variety of pass-along plants for my garden, including of course, spiderwort. The color range includes lavender, blue, violet, purple and even white.

Tradescantia does well in sun or shade, but the flowers may close by midday especially in hot sun. Spiderwort is very drought tolerant and self-seeds easily. The plants attract butterflies and this morning were appealing to quite many bees.

Plants have drifted throughout the garden over the years. I always intend to rein them back, but before I can get around to it, they open and form pretty combinations with Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) or provide a needed backdrop to other emerging perennials. I think, “Well let’s just leave them for now.” Spiderworts tend to die back during the hottest part of summer. Before I know it, fall comes around again and the spiderworts give another burst of color to the garden. And so they stay.

Must-Haves And Have-Nots

The weather today was clear and sunny with the temperature perhaps reaching sixty.  It was a few degrees cooler yet just as lovely yesterday, perfect for putting in a few hours to continue the weeding.  Weeding is not particularly a favorite chore, but it provided an opportunity to be close to the earth—to see what is growing, to remember what plants did well in each spot last year and which did not, to make mental notes of future tasks and simply to enjoy being outside in garden.


Emerging growth is visible on a variety of plants this week, including some of my garden favorites. I uncovered a few of these must-have plants as I worked my way around the perennial beds weeding and removing old stems and stalks no longer needed for winter interest.


The have-nots, of course, are the weeds. My fingers are well familiar their root structures from years of coaxing their ancestors from the soil. Lately I have been trying to identify them by name, but except for the dandelion, these are tentative identifications.

Nice To Have, Won’t Have Later

Ample rains and a recent mowing makes the tall fescue lawn appear at its best today, lush and verdant. Under the care of a different gardener, one who believes in lots of watering, the grass might be coaxed into staying this way all summer.

Last year it stayed fairly nice until early June. By then North Carolina’s heat, humidity and dry spells had set in and the grass turned patchy brown until fall. Year-round green grass is not a must-have for this garden and at some point more of the lawn may be given over to flowers. Today though it certainly is pleasant to have the green.

Garden View With Verdant Lawn

Garden Sightings

The garden was a captivating place today. Some sights were seasonal, such as that of a bright red Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ and a golden Jackmanii clematis seedhead.

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Jackmanii clematis

Seeing the Iberis Sempervirens blooming in the meditation circle at this time of year is unusual.

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

Spiraea in this garden often sends out an early blossom or two, but this year the timing is early by many weeks.



This Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) is not as showy as in summer but it has bloomed long past its expected timeframe.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

The next few days will offer a less hospitable environment for some of these unseasonable bloomers, as a cold front pushes through the area bringing freezing temperatures.

A Camellia And More

Spied a pink camellia blooming just around the corner of the house the other day and today was the first opportunity to check it out. Though the past several days of rain have left this blossom wrinkly and tired, I still admired its interesting waxy, translucent skin. There will be many more blossoms soon, as the beautiful shrub itself is tightly packed with buds. For now the name of this camellia is lost, probably written down somewhere safe though.


Here are a few other scenes from today’s garden:

October Flourishes

A brief excursion around the garden today offered a few unexpected finds, the first being a nearly spent blossom from the Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily). I have been mistakenly referring to this as wild ginger, but ginger lily it is. This pass-along plant from a former neighbor has an exotic look and is deeply fragrant.

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

The Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) have been particularly satisfying this year. Although some of the plants have nearly dried up, others continue to produce fresh flowers.

Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ has performed well this year. It was moved to this sunny spot from another area that was getting too shady. I attribute the extra rains to its colorful success.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Jackmanii Clematis is supposed to be one of the easiest clematises to grow, but this one has never had a memorable reblooming in the fall. This year’s rains have no doubt contributed.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Just beyond the Jackmanii, is the only ornamental grass in the garden. I fretted over the Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass) this summer, not realizing late summer and fall are when this airy pink grass is at its best. It is not in an ideal location to show it off, so perhaps it needs to be moved. Nearby is Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage), which was transplanted to this area this spring. It is now thriving in this sunny spot. Another late-season perennial, it has spires of  lavender, tubular flowers.

Clematis, Pink Muhly Grass, Russian Sage

A Few Days Into Autumn

Fall 2011 began September 23 and the time since has been filled with many rains. The moisture has encouraged continued flowering in the garden. After a brief shower early this morning, the sun has been in and out of clouds all day. The temperature is currently eighty-five degrees.

Blooming In Mid-September Part 4

This completes a series illustrating the variety of blooms found in this garden in mid-September.  Once extreme heat and drought set in during July the garden looked browned and parched. Now, eight weeks have passed with little maintenance, and the garden has awakened. Cooler temperatures and some key rainfalls have brought out a burst of blossoms.


Echinacea (purple coneflower) is planted throughout the garden and these perennials have remained in bloom longer this year than usual. As the petals drop the seed cones provide food for the American goldfinches. Most of the Echinacea have dried up now and the brown stalks and cones are being left for winter interest and for the birds.

Crape Myrtle

A pair of pink dwarf Crape Myrtles at the front entrance took forever to bloom this year, while these Southern favorites were coloring the landscape all around town (and even in this neighborhood). The peak flowering period seemed to be about mid-August.

Periwinkle (Vinca)

Because this annual is so commonly used, bringing it home was merely an afterthought at the garden center in early summer.  During the worst of the dry, hot July days though, it added happy spots of color (both pink and magenta) to the border.

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)

Only a few cosmos self-seeded from last year’s effort to fill the side border with feathery greenery and delicate blossoms.  Usually these are very simple to grow but last year neither these nor the zinnia seeds produced a reward.  The deer still graze down this side garden and seem to be attracted to the cosmos.


Cleome or Spider Flower is a magnificent accent in the border. The complex structure of the blooms and the long seed pods forming below the flower give this annual an architectural look.  This is an old-fashioned flower that is remarkable.

More In the September Garden

Ending the tour of blooms in this mid-September garden, there are several flowers blooming for there are no accompanying photographs, but they have been featured before: Pink YarrowDianthus, and Verbena bonariensis. The pink yarrow bloomed profusely in the spring before browning in the heat.  Only a couple of these are in bloom now.  The dianthus was planted this spring and did well with deadheading though early summer before fading in the heat. It has revived somewhat but is not significantly showy. Verbena bonariensis, a tall plant with small flower clusters on long stems, has been blooming since mid-May.  Yellow American goldfinches love them and love to sit on them, bending the stems eventually. Several new ones added to the garden in late spring survived.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)

While this Asclepias tuberosa is not actually blooming now, the seed pods are interesting. Milkweed is the host plant for the monarch butterfly. The caterpillar is feeding on the leaves and storing energy for the pupa stage.