Friday, 21 October 2011

Fall flowers and foliage

As we journey through October, the weather is becoming colder, and the fall rains come and go. The garden is slowly putting itself to bed for the winter, but we're still enjoying late blooms on some of the plants. My group of Aster 'Little Carlow' is just past its best now, but its intense violet daisies have been a standout for the last month. Next year I will remember to chop them to half height in June. They'll bloom a little later, but will be sturdy enough not to be knocked over by wind and rain. I've had to tie them up this year, which means they lose some of their natural grace, hence the close-up.

As long as I continue to deadhead Penstemon 'Garnet', it keeps on producing more spikes of lipstick-pink bells, although it has slowed the pace somewhat. This is my favourite penstemon, not for the colour, but because it has this never-say-die quality. It also flops less than many newer varieties in subtler shades. In its one season here, it has grown substantially and is crowding out an oregano nearby, which really needs cutting back. I've left the latter because the bees love its flowers so much, but it's time to find it a home elsewhere.

Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii', buried behind some phlox over the summer, came into its own in early September and its electric blue spires are still standing tall against the fence. It gets less sun here than I expected, but that doesn't seem to have affected its enthusiasm.

On the opposite fence a young Clematis rehderiana has produced a few of its tiny, fragrant, pale yellow bells.

In future years it will cover the fence and the scent of many such flowers will infuse the garden.

I recently bought Japanese anemone 'Honorine Jobert' to add its pristine white into this autumnal mix. This is a plant that normally holds its flowers on tall, willowy stems, but mine is looking disappointingly dumpy. It was potbound enough to need some trimming and untangling during the transplant so I hope that is at the 'root' of its problem and that next year it will fulfill my expectations. These anemones have a reputation for not knowing their place, but I've never known 'Honorine' to outgrow its allotted space. Like the white-flowerd forms of many plants it is less vigorous than its more colourful relatives.

In front of the house, the lavender has grown to more than twice the size it was when I planted it. I've clipped it for the winter, but next year the individual bushes should merge into the low hedge I have in mind.

Also in front, a little onion, that my friend Lambert recommended, Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa', is flowering bravely away against the foliage of Hydrangea 'BeniGaku'. It needs a suitable companion that won't overwhelm it (perhaps a dark-leaved Sedum).

Speaking of 'Beni-Gaku, the leaves on my larger specimen of this in the backyard are turning deep crimson.

Not to be outdone, peony foliage is doing much the same.

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