Garden Bloggers Bloom Day October, 2013

'Gallery Pablo' dahlia as identified by Fairegarden. Thanks!
‘Gallery Pablo’ dahlia as identified by Fairegarden. Thanks!
The garden mums aren’t yet blooming.

Mid-Autumn wears her lofty crown this Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. October is a month of changes in my Oklahoma garden. We still have warm days and cool nights, but change was definitely in the air last night as the first, large cold front came through bringing rain and heavy wind. Perhaps, you can’t tell, but the garden is starting to shrink in on itself because it gets a little less sunlight each day. Dahlias, however, put on a show in late summer and throughout fall. I’m actually thinking about digging up some and bringing them in after reading Christopher Lloyd’s last book, Exotic Planting for Adventurous Gardeners. Maybe.

While Lloyd died in the middle of writing, other famous garden writers, like Anna Pavord, finished it for him. Still, Lloyd’s words ring with such an authentic love for gardening. “The canna’s simple, paddle-shaped leaves contribute firmness to our plantings, the dahlia’s foliage is generally mundane (pinnate, like a potato’s) but their flowers epitomize summer’s full glory. They are perfect team players.”

I came to a similar conclusion awhile back. Reading this was like having your favorite uncle affirm your choice. I didn’t like cannas for a long time, but now, their leaves, especially the dark ones, light up the garden from summer through fall. Note that dahlias bloom really well throughout the summer for Brits because they have mild temperatures. I suspect the same thing works here on the east coast and in Portland and Seattle. Oh, to live where rain is abundant. I can’t imagine.

Butterfly's last stand. Does anyone know which type this is?
Butterfly’s last stand.

Butterflies, especially the Sulphurs–not pictured above–I believe this is a Swallowtail of some type–are frantic on warm days because they are gathering nectar and strength before season’s end. I feel like them as I take cuttings in the garden and start seeds in the cold frame. Maybe I’ll be ahead of the curve in Spring with coleus and alternantheras overwintered in the greenhouse.

'Cramer's Amazon' celosia, Salvia vanhouttei, cannas and 'Bishop of Llandaff' dahlias make a fall garden sing.
‘Cramer’s Amazon’ celosia, Salvia vanhouttei, cannas and ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ dahlias make a fall garden sing.

I grew ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ celosia for the first time this year. While I still love ‘Intenz’ as much or more, I think ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ makes a great back of the border plant. Butterflies and other pollinators love it. We even saw Monarchs sipping nectar from this giant beauty. I pinched and cut it back all summer keeping it to six feet.

Salvia vanhouttei 'Wendy's Wish' with my purple chairs
Salvia vanhouttei ‘Wendy’s Wish’ with my purple chairs

In the lowest part of the lower garden, I planted a mix of things that was bold and a bit crazy. ‘Wendy’s Wish’ salvia is growing with abandon here. I want local growers to carry this plant so I don’t have to order it online and pay shipping. It is so lovely in fall. You know why they don’t? Because customers don’t buy plants out of bloom, and of course, this one doesn’t show off in early spring. Please buy plants based upon what you know more than what you see. ‘Orange Peel’ cestrum is also blooming in back. Follow the link for a better photo of this cestrum. Mine has overwintered consistently for years now and is quite large.

'Brazilian Red Hot' alternanthera, red Sunpatiens, purple pentas crapemyrtle Pink Velour, perennial hydrangeas, grasses all make the fall garden beautiful.
‘Brazilian Red Hot’ alternanthera, red Sunpatiens, purple pentas crapemyrtle Pink Velour, perennial hydrangeas, grasses all make the fall garden beautiful.

On the other side of the lower garden grows a mixed planting with a few annuals and tropicals mixed in with daylilies, grasses and shrubs. We need more late summer-early fall bloomers in our gardens because our weather is perfect, and we are outside more than say in July. Well, most of us anyway . . . I’m out in July too, but only early morning to keep things tidy and mulched.

Bat-faced cuphea hanging over the potager. These plants were hard to come by this year.
Bat-faced cuphea hanging over the potager. These plants were hard to come by this year. I can’t imagine why because they are among the best plants for summers in hot climates.

Speaking of the greenhouse, all is well. Because the weather is more amenable, Bill set up the flood tables. One pump isn’t working correctly, but fortunately, they aren’t as expensive as you might think. We’ll set up the rain barrels on another day. It only needs sweeping out, and then, we must work on the heating system. These warm days won’t last for long, and we must prepare. Friends from a local garden club are coming to visit on the 19th. I hope everything tropical survives the early morning temperatures, and the garden welcomes them with open arms.

Side of the greenhouse and red fountain. I'm toying with the idea of keeping it up and running this year.
Side of the greenhouse and red fountain. I’m toying with the idea of keeping it up and running this year.

Around the fountain this year, I planted two types of lantana, ‘Dallas Red’ and ‘Confetti‘ along with Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’ and pink Justicia brandegeeana (shrimp plant.) You know what else would look good here? Tropical blue plumbago. That would really set off the red.

These are the dreams we dream of during cold dark nights.

Pink muhly grass is starting to show its fall colors.
Pink muhly grass is starting to show its fall colors.

When the pink muhly grass begins its fall show, I know fall is at its mid-point, and I’m a bit sad. I will miss the colors and the pollinators until next year. However, I have bulbs to plant and plants to bring it, and that helps enormously with the fall blues. I also have the greenhouse and cold frame to keep me content.

It’s a good life. It’s taken me twenty-five years to get here, but it is grand, and I enjoy every minute of it. Thank you to Carol Michel at May Dreams Gardens for Bloom Day, a long-running theme.


  1. Robin says:

    I’ve so enjoyed seeing some of your best spots for fall. Let’s see. My favorites are the cuphea hanging over the wall and of course, the pink muhly grass. Hmmm, I’ve admired it for so long, perhaps I should figure out how to fit it in here.

  2. New book, new look but red hair and dirt still shine through. The purple chair pix looks like something inspired by the Sergeant Pepper’s album cover. Chairs complement my blog masthead. BTW, GREAT FRICKING book title, my dear.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hey Patrick! Thank you. Yeah, I guess all that color does look a little Sergeant Pepper-ish. I’ve painted those chairs nearly every color under the sun. I love the French blue best, but couldn’t find it this year. Hope all is well in your fall world too!

  3. Those chairs are ‘spot on’. Canna – oh no, oh no, oh no! I was given one in the summer and because the label says it wouldn’t survive outdoors in an English garden I kept it in its pot . . . and put it in a secluded corner of the garden because that’s where it looked good . . kept up with it for a while – then forgot it! Aaagh! My garden is turning into a casualty ward.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Esther, hey we’re lucky. In Oklahoma, believe it or not, cannas mostly overwinter. Even Tropicanna sometimes does. Weird huh?

  4. Beautiful blooms, Dee! I love the Muhly Grass–it adds such a mystical feel to any garden. Lantanas are also a favorite. Great shot of the butterfly!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you so much. It’s been a beautiful and fun summer, much better than the two years previous.

  5. Nancy says:

    Dee, That first dahlia, “Gallery Pablo”,is a stunner! The fall colors in your garden are wonderful.

    By the way, I changed my mind about cannas a while back too. I’m not totally sure what it was that caused the turnabout — but I think it has something to do with confidence. Do you think we get more brave and adventurous in our gardens through the years, with these strong,bold plants?

    And along those lines (i.e., Color for Adventurous Gardeners), reading Christopher Lloyd is a favorite thing to do. I adore his writing. I wish I could have met him!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Oh yes, Nancy, I definitely do. I love Colour for Adventurous Gardeners. It seems he was doing a whole series when he passed away. I wish I’d met him too.

  6. Nell Jean says:

    I’m excited to see the greenhouse is finished, almost. As Gilda Radner said, “It’s always something.” It applies to pump failures and other bumps in the road, too. I’ve had good luck with keeping Alternanthera in a container of water all winter in the GH.

    I’m seeing all kinds of plants I need to plant next year as I read Bloom Day posts. Cuphea — on my list!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Nell Jean, I bet that does work well as it also does with coleus. I rooted some alternantheras, and they are growing happily in pots. Oh, yes, cupheas are great plants. There are so many from which to choose.

  7. Kathryn says:

    Your garden is beautiful! This is what I love about Bloom Day – discovering new gardens to admire!

  8. Looking great Dee! Enjoy the abundant beauty that autumn has to offer…

    1. Dee Nash says:

      You too dear! Hope to see you again soon.

  9. Your garden is just as beautiful in the fall as the spring. I took notes on this post so I can add some color in the waning days of growing season. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you so much Mia! I hope to see those pics on your page next year. 😀

  10. Rose says:

    I do hope you get the time to sit in those blue/purple chairs every day–what a fantastic view of your garden! So much still in bloom! I’m on a campaign to get at least one of our local nurseries to stock ‘Wendy’s Wish’ next year. It does seem like many of the garden centers are offering less and less variety.

    I like the new blog look, and it makes it very easy to “pin” something–I pinned the photo of the celosia so I wouldn’t forget it next year!

  11. And here I was thinking it was heat that got dahlias to bloom, but you think it’s moisture? I had plenty of moisture this summer but my dahlia didn’t start blooming until the third week of September. There’s some secret to dahlia culture I have yet to discover!

  12. Fabulous plants and inspiration, as always! Oh, I just had to “refresh” things to see the comments form. Whew. You are totally remarkable in every way, from garden to innovator! Please FedEX me some of your beautiful energy.

  13. Gail says:

    Your garden is looking good and the peak into your garden by the purple chairs is so inviting. I am not sure why cupheas aren’t available at local garden centers, the hummers and other pollinators are all over mine from the first bloom to frost. I still like your red fountain…Attractive pottery fountains are difficult to find, too. xogail

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Gail,

      Well, the truth is, it’s not really a fountain. It’s two pots, and we added the plastic pipes, grate and pump. Even though we’ve put it together three years now, we still fight it leaking. We first added the adhesive the directions suggested. Then, we tried another adhesive. Finally, this year, we added a pond liner. It is better, but still leaks. We think we poked it when we put the grate in. Fountains are not as simple as some people make them out to be. Hugs from Oklahoma!

  14. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    My goodness Dee. This is the first time I have seen the new look for your blog. Wow, I like it. I also like this dahlia. It is a beauty. Happy GBBD.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Lisa! I changed it today.

  15. says:

    Your garden is pure heaven, dear Dee. I think the Dahlia might be Gallery Pablo, it is sure a beauty whatever it is. The Cupheas look sensational hanging over the edge like that. I bet the hummingbirds are all over them, or were. Happy GBBD!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Faire. Yours is too. Someday, I might get to visit, I hope. I think you’re right about ‘Gallery Pablo,’ and I’ve changed it on the photo. I remember buying it now. Thanks!

  16. Julie says:

    Dee, I wish I was lounging in your purple chairs–what a lovely, restful place. You still have so much color in the garden-I’m envious! Our garden is fading quickly and in desperate need of attention. Happy bloom day!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Julie, after this cold blast, the color may be history. I still need to dig a few things, but I’m waiting until after friends visit. Sunny days will help restore things. I wish you could visit too. We’d have tea and sit in those chairs.

  17. Leslie says:

    Lovely Dee! I think if people bought plants based on what they know rather than what they see we would all have lots more choices…I hope people listen to you!

  18. Janie says:

    My greenhouse & fountains are in such horrible shape…lovely pics…happy blooms!

  19. Anonymous says:

    I love your fall garden and the joy you find in the season, as well as the sadness. What a lovely place to be in your journey of twenty years. Love you Mom

  20. Holleygarden says:

    That photo of your garden with the purple chairs looks like a gardener’s fantasy. I can imagine that life is good, sitting there overlooking your beautiful garden. I can’t wait for my pink muhly grass to fill in and put on a show like yours! I, too, have noticed the lack of plant selection in the garden centers. I’ve wondered if the economy has something to do with it. There are a lot of plants I’ve looked for and had to go home empty handed. The garden centers are just not full of plants like in years past. They are half empty!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      If only I’d sit in them more and quit working quite so hard. 🙂 I bet you’re right about the economy. Our garden centers are definitely feeling the pinch.

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