Flowers for October

Gosh what gorgeous weather we are having right now! I’ve spent the day doing odd jobs in the garden—mostly planting out all the plants I grew in pots from cuttings over the summer. It was so nice to see that I still have flowers, despite the freezes we have had already. Of course all the annuals were frozen long ago, but there are some plants that can take the freezes and still look great.

I’ve also noticed that these plants began flowering later this year than they did last year. I can only put that down to the very late start they got this spring. My Sweet Autumn Clematis and Russian Sage have not opened flowers buds yet, and I’m afraid they will not get the chance this year. The Russian Sage was beautiful last year, but I haven’t had the Clematis long enough to know if it will be too late every year.

Also just opening flowers now is a plant I first saw here at Train Mountain, flowering that year in mid-September. Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)—so called because you can swivel it’s flowers around and they will stay put—grows 2 to 3 ft tall in clumps, with spikes of small pink snapdragon-like flowers. It’s a great addition to the garden for late season flowers. It is native to eastern North America from Quebec to Manitoba, and south to Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia, occurring in swamps, damp meadows and prairies, moist open woodlands, bogs, and pine savannas.

On my way back and forth across the yard I had to stop several times to look at one of my favorites, the New England Asters. (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae). New England Aster is a US native that grows in prairie swales, and wet meadows, ranging from Quebec to Alberta, south to North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico. They are beautiful, easy to grow plants prized for their masses of pink to purple flowers with bright yellow centers. The plants grow 2 to 6 feet tall and work well in the background or can be pinched back several times until midsummer for a more compact shape. They prefer average to moist soil and full sun. They are universally attractive to insects, from Monarch butterflies to every variety of bee, and mine were humming with activity in the afternoon sun.

Although the bees consider the Autumn Joy sedum to have finished flowering, the dry flower heads look every bit as good as the fresh flowers to this gardener. I’m going to divide some of the clumps next spring so that I can have more of it to watch next fall. It tolerates heat and infertile soil, so it’s a very handy plant to have around.

Also still flowering is my Darlowe’s Enigma shrub rose and the Johnny Jump Ups. The rose began flowering in July, and the Johnny Jump Ups in April—that’s a lot of flowers. There are other flowers in my garden, but not in their glory now as they were in spring and summer. Still, every flower is welcome before the long cold spell that is to come.

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