Centratherum punctatum, Brazilian button flower given to me by Cindy from My Corner of Katy blog.

Fall flower garden dance

A week ago, when I started this post, it was cold, bitterly so, after a very long and warm fall. Any tropical I didn’t get moved into the greenhouse froze. Deciduous trees and shrubs started their leaf fall and began pulling in their sap to wait until spring to rise again. The asters, garden mums and other flowers are all finished too, but they had their moment of glory. Let’s look back at their reign.

Tagetes lucida, Mexican tarragon is truly a thug so plant it in an area where it has room to roam.

Tagetes lucida, Mexican tarragon is truly a thug so plant it in an area where it has room to roam. It does bloom school bus yellow, but the smaller pollinators love it so much, and it’s great for fall color. Plus, the leaves taste good, like tarragon.

Summer in Oklahoma is hot and usually dry. The sun bakes the sky until it’s only a soft and hazy blue. In fall, that same sky is the most glorious color. Fall reminds me that God loves us. Autumn color is astounding against the green grass and blue sky.

It's not just about the flowers. Fall color in the front border from a 'Viridis' Japanese maple and 'Cherokee Chief' dogwood behind.

It’s not just about the flowers. Fall color in the front border from a ‘Viridis’ Japanese maple and ‘Cherokee Chief’ dogwood behind.

I can’t get enough of fall. It’s when I enjoy the garden most of all. I don’t worry too much about garden chores or spend my time working. Instead, I take my time walking around and gazing at the flowers and foliage before everything dies back to become one with the ground once more.

Variegated plectranthus and coleus were two tropical plants I grew this summer on the east side of the house. The plectranthus lost much of its variegation by the end of summer. I don't know why.

Variegated plectranthus and coleus were two tropical plants I grew this summer on the east side of the house. The plectranthus lost much of its variegation by the end of summer. I don’t know why. I probably won’t plant it next year.

Fall is usually balm to my weary nerves. It’s been hot this year all the way into November. I’m ready for hot chocolate or tea, cookies and sitting around the fire. Instead, temperatures remained in the mid-80s, and I had the air conditioning on in the house as late as two weeks ago. When I heard it was going to be a hard freeze last week, I thought, finally!

'Jessica Louise' mum with another mum friend. I lost the tag to the other, but I'm trying to locate the name in my purchase orders. If I find it, I'll update it.

‘Jessica Louise’ mum with another mum friend. I lost the tag to the other, but I’m trying to locate the name in my purchase orders. If I find it, I’ll update it. I bought them at the same time, but I don’t remember where. I should keep better records.

I never wish for winter, but if I wanted summer temperatures for Christmas, I would head to Australia. Rather, my winter heart resides in Vermont. I’ve not been to Vermont. Never been to Australia either, but there are other places I would go first, like Italy. We plan to go there in March.

Mexican bush sage up close and personal reveals its velvety texture. I find that the solid purple variety is more cold hardy than the one with the purple calyces and white flowers.

Mexican bush sage up close and personal reveals its velvety texture. I find that the solid purple variety is more cold hardy than the one with the purple calyces and white flowers. This is a photo from 2015, but it’s representative of what’s blooming in my garden until the freeze.

Back to the fall floral display. All of my gardens are designed with fall flowers in mind. If we get a hot summer, there won’t be much blooming then so I choose tropical plants to fill in those empty spaces. Then, I plan and plant for fall.

Centratherum punctatum, Brazilian button flower given to me by Cindy from My Corner of Katy blog.

Centratherum punctatum, Brazilian button flower given to me by Cindy from My Corner of Katy blog.

When I spoke last spring in Sugar Land and Tomball, I spent time with my friend, Cindy From My Corner of Katy. Cindy and I have been friends for almost nine years, and she never lets me leave her home without giving me some wonderful plant. This year, it was Brazilian button flower, a/k/a Brazilian bachelor’s button. My plant grew to be about two feet tall and wide, and I have it planted in clay. It simply shrugged off the terrible dirt and began blooming in mid-summer. Then, in fall it really hit its stride. I love this tender perennial which isn’t hardy in Oklahoma, but I’m sure it will deposit plenty of seeds for next year. Cindy says it can be a bit of a thug.

“Bring it,” I say. Not many plants are thuggish in Oklahoma. Garlic chives and autumn clematis are two thugs I can think of off the top of my head, but not many others.

Symphyotrichum laeve 'Bluebird' with a small bee.

Symphyotrichum laeve ‘Bluebird’ with a small bee. One of the best “asters” I have in the garden.

In past years, I’ve written several times about favorite fall flowers and trees. You can plant fall-blooming flowers for pollinators like the Mexican tarragon, above. Remember, simple flowers are always best. That way, small insects can really get their nectar fix. You can also plant fall eye candy for yourself. Mums and asters make good companions. And, while you’re going around admiring your gardens, don’t forget that planting bulbs is an act of faith. I’ll be outside on Friday planting the rest of mine, 200 or so. I planted some tulips, but I waited for a couple of cold snaps to let foliage die back and give me space to work. It also helps cool the ground off. We had a very warm fall, and we’ve had to wait. Wait no longer. Get your bulb on now so you’ll have a beautiful spring. Remember that good gardens take planning, and bulbs are part of that too.

'Emperor of China' mum in the border along the garage.

‘Emperor of China’ mum in the border along the garage.

Much love to all of you. Thank you for reading my blog in this, its ninth year. You don’t know how much I appreciate you still stopping by and leaving a comment. It makes the writing and photography worth it.

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14 comments on “Fall flower garden dance

  1. Richard Clayton

    Your flowers are so beautiful. I hope that I will get more awesome article from you 😀

  2. indygardener

    Thanks for sharing your fall goodness with us. It’s always a pleasure to stop by and see what’s going on in your garden.

  3. Robin Ruff Leja

    There is nothing quite so lovely as a midwestern fall, even if we do have to put up with winter afterwards. I often say that winter is the price we pay for autumn. I don’t like the cold, but I put up with it, because I sure do enjoy its prelude.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow

    Hi Dee, We had this crazy weather here too. Like you I am looking forward to winter for some time to contemplate, looking back and looking forward to the new gardening year. I have never heard of the flower that your friend gave you. It is pretty. If it is fragrant I would really like it. I wonder if it would like my garden. Canterberry bells are a thug here. I put up with them because they flower through drought and the bees love em. Congrats on your 9th year of blogging. Your blog is an inspiration to gardeners that read it. I hope you never tire of posting. I want to add that I didn’t change the name of my blog. Hmmm It must have been a typo.

  5. Pat Leuchtman

    What a wonderful look back at your garden over the past year. And congratulations of nine years and counting of blogging. You were a guide when I started the commonweeder, just one year later. You are always an inspiration, in the garden and on the blog.

    1. Dee Nash

      Thank you Pat. I love your blog too, and your book was so good! It kept me entertained for an entire flight. I planned to have a big party for my ninth year blogaversery, but alas, I had surgery on my arm instead. Oh well.

    1. Dee Nash

      Reminds me of September too Kathy, probably because the temps in October and November have been just like September. That was completely different from last year.

  6. KAREN MORAN

    We had volunteer “bachelor buttons” that sprung up every year on the northside of our garage along with “pinks” and snapdragons. I adored these as a child, as much for their names as for the flowers. It was a magical miracle to discover such spontaneous surprises.

    1. Dee Nash

      Hi Karen, yes, it’s those surprises that remind us that the world is indeed a wonderful place. How magical that must have been for you!

  7. Connie Stephens

    I’m an Oklahoma girl living in south central Kansas. I’m also a master gardener, who refuses to let the transitional climate I live in dictate my style. Your articles are inspiring, thank you!

    1. Dee Nash

      Hi Connie, I’m glad my posts inspire you. Keep on gardening, and thank you so much for commenting. It made my day.

  8. Cindy, MCOK

    Dee, I’m so glad you love the Brazilian button bush! Have you noticed the fragrance? It can be pretty intense in my garden 🙂

    1. Dee Nash

      Cindy, I didn’t notice the fragrance. I’ll have to pay better attention next year. It wasn’t in an enclosed area. Maybe that’s why I didn’t notice it.