In the middle of October, my fall garden puts on its late, late show. Pearly heath asters combine with pink roses for a beautiful crescendo. Japanese beetles that so devastated my roses are gone, and the roses responded with beautiful flowers due to cooler temperatures. As always, click on the photos in the galleries to enlarge them.
But, don’t be fooled, having a beautiful late, late show isn’t just about pastoral views. Splendor in the fall garden begins in spring. Many of the plants I’m featuring in this Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post are essential food for pollinators and birds, and to the praying mantis, I caught eating a Giant Swallowtail. I didn’t take a picture of it. Instead, here’s a prettier photo of late September. Neither plant is still blooming now.
Even though I know it’s a bug-eat-bug world, it still made me sad. I wonder why I love some bugs over others?
Monarch butterflies came to visit on their way south.
Yesterday, five Monarch butterflies hung out in my garden all day as they sipped nectar from zinnias, tropical milkweed, and Tithonia rotundifolia ‘Torch.’ I noticed that although I love the soft-colored ‘Queen Lime Red’ zinnias, the Monarchs preferred scarlet red ‘Will Rogers’ and dark ‘Oklahoma Purple’ zinnias over all others, something to consider for next year. I must admit ‘Will Rogers’ zinnias look great with Mexican sunflower and tropical milkweed. Also, in my fall garden, Monarchs prefer the regular tropical milkweed over ‘Silky Gold.’
On this day, almost no one was attuned to ‘Oklahoma Salmon’ zinnias. I wonder why? Gulf Fritillary butterflies seem to enjoy whatever zinnia is put in from of them. Of course, the Monarchs, being queenly, are more particular.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
Not everything in the garden is pretty either. As Carol Michel and I say on the Gardenangelists podcast, we even share “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” This late in the season the cutting gardens are looking rough, and I had a drip irrigation problem several places in the garden in August. Part of the maidenhair fern died back to the ground before I figured out what was going on. It’s pretty ugly, but maidenhair fern is also tough so I figure it will rebound next spring.
Some perennials, tropicals and sub-tropicals are still going strong.
This photo of ‘Victoria’ salvia and pink muhly grass is one of my favorite fall garden views right now. The blue and pink make my heart flutter.
Pink muhly grass is always a fall garden star.
You really cannot beat that pink, but false vervain tries.
So does Mexican bush sage. I cannot have a fall garden without that splendid purple, and the bees and butterflies also thank me. It isn’t supposed to be hardy to Oklahoma Zone 7a, but it usually overwinters. However, I do take cuttings just in case. I’d like to plant it at both ends of this garden, but it would overwhelm the purple prairie clover. Maybe I’ll move the clover to the meadow in the upper pasture next spring.
Native shrubs are clear winners.
One of the things I’ve worked hard on in the last few years is adding native shrubs to my garden. Once established, they are easy-care, and they help feed and shelter garden creatures. Rusty blackhaw, Viburnum rufidulum, is one of my favorite trees, and it sits large and in charge at the end of the back garden.
I first heard about this fabulous tree from my friend, Gail, at Clay and Limestone. I love her 2011 post about how she came by her rusty blackhaw tree. Mine is starting to turn a lovely bronze. I have also planted black chokecherry, four spicebushes, two clove currants, and one serviceberry. I also have five arrowhead viburnums, and two weeks ago, I planted two Berry Heavy® winterberry hollies along with a Mr. Poppins as the male pollinator. Winterberry hollies are also native to North America. The shrubs are very small, but I hope they will live long and prosper.
Once upon a time
My garden was an English garden with an Oklahoma accent, but it is becoming more like the deciduous forest and prairie where I live. I still appreciate the straight borders in the back garden because they help keep all that prairie lusciousness reigned in.
Fall is my favorite season, and asters and mums make excellent fall garden companions. I added a new goldenrod variety this year too in a sandier part of the garden and spread wildflower seeds in the upper meadow. In this week’s Gardenangelists podcast, we talked about late-blooming flowers for the fall garden like asters and goldenrod, but insects kept trying to take over.
‘Bluebird’ is still my favorite aster, but I am starting to truly appreciate the heath asters for their sheer persistence even under the harshest conditions.
As for the meadow, it is coming along slowly with the native grasses more abundant this year. That makes me happy. I may burn the meadow next spring if I’m brave enough. I also added some perennials which seem very happy, and finally, Liatris elegans is growing well in several places.
That’s all I have for this Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. I hope you enjoyed it and perhaps found a few things to plant for your fall garden too. Thanks for reading!
What a beautiful garden…breathtaking.
Have you ever heard of local fire stations assisting with controlled burns? Just curious.
Hi Sarah, I haven’t, but you could just contact them and ask. We live out in the country, and our rural fire department is all volunteer.
The false vervain is so delightfully serpentine! I’m not familiar with it, I’ll have to try to find some. Sadly, I don’t think I’ve seen a dozen monarch butterflies all this year. My stand of milkweed has remained caterpillar-less. I’ve enjoyed seeing your pretty monarch pics! I always enjoy your posts, Dee.
Hey Ginny, there you are! I’ve been wondering about you. You know, some years it seems like Monarchs veer here or there, and I don’t see many in my garden. Try, if you have space, to plant two more stands of milkweed and see if that draws them in. Apparently, they watch for groups of plants from sky. I can’t imagine how they know.~~Dee
Beautiful blooms, Bluebird asters are stunning.
Hi Arun, yes, those Bluebird asters are really something else. They can be a pain because they want to flop even after I cut them back in spring, but they are beautiful. Thank you for stopping by.~~Dee
Robin Ruff Leja
I lost interest in the Queen zinnias when I realized they were of no interest to pollinators. Number one zinnia for that here is Cut and Come Again. They will visit Green Envy and Oklahoma Salmon. I plant a Mexican Bush Sage as an annual every year, because I LOVE it, but I didn’t know they were hardy to 7a. I’m in 6a, but with two mild winters in a row, all bets are off. I’ll make sure to leave it in the ground in case it wants to return. I’ve had dahlias returning the last few years, so who knows.
I’m loving your podcast like none other. It’s informative, friendly, funny snd the rabbit trails are always interesting!
Hey Kim, thank you so very much! You don’t know how much we appreciate you.~~Dee
HI Robin, I say give it a try. You never know. It’s only supposed to be hardy to zone 8, but I’ve overwintered mine for years and years. I did lose it one time, but even after last year’s extreme cold it came back. I think it’s because it was such a large stand. Maybe.~~Dee
Lovely! Your hard work is paying back dividends in blooms!
It was a good summer after a nefarious winter. Ha!~~Dee