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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.