Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Long Winter's...Rest?

Just a short post to wish those few friendly souls that occasionally check in here a very happy holiday. My December consists mainly of being chained to the keyboard at church, supervising hundreds of singing (?) children at school, preparing for the obligatory holiday observations among family and friends, and getting ready to visit Ron's family in Pittsburgh; as a result, very little gardening, other than necessary life support and maintenance, takes place here. In an hour yesterday, for instance, I watered the epiphytes in the greenhouse (potted things take much less water at this time of year), drained the hoses, unloaded several bags of pinestraw which I "liberated" from a neighbor's curb on the way home the other night, spread some of this over the remains of the crinum and hedychium foliage, gathered rhizomes from achimenes and gloxinias to store and give as Christmas presents to friends who probably will be appalled to receive them, and began the icky process of processing the berries of Arbutus unedo and Hamelia patens. This last involves crushing the berries into a container of water which will now be allowed to ferment over the next several days, being rinsed repeatedly during this time to separate the pulp from the seeds. Ron particularly appreciates waking up to find these containers of "gunk" lined up along the kitchen countertop. There's a special place in heaven for anyone who lives with a gardener (at least one like me) for almost twenty years!

Still, there's lots of life in the garden at this point, and during the hour or two I have to observe it, I really enjoy it. The Sasanqua camellias are still going strong, the hellebores are showing buds (and in the case of one H. x nigercors, an incredible display of early blooms), and arums are coming into their own as the summer perennials gradually clear the airspace above them. Lycoris, Cyclamen, and Ranunculus are all in great foliage, adding life, if not a riot of color, to the scene.

The palms are especially striking this year, having put on enough growth to begin making a real statement in the front garden. The five species of Trachycarpus look great, and I'm especially enjoying the impact that T. nana is beginning to make in the front bed. (This photo is a couple of months old.) Despite its name, it appears to grow much faster than some, such as T. wagnerianus. Using these temperate palms in beds is an interesting project, since they tend to shade out their neighbors in their "teen" years. Once the crown of the palm is above 10 feet or so, however, the shadows they cast are negligible. I'm not providing any winter protection to the established Trachys, Sabals, or Rhapidophyllums this year, other than a thick collar of pinestraw around the base of each. Chaemerops humilis tend to defoliate if the temps drop into the low teens, but it seems to return from the crown in any event. I did plant a small C. humilis var. cerifera this year, so I covered it with a "wall-o-water" yesterday, enduring great physical discomfort, as more water always gets on my clothes than goes into the narrow plastic channels of those things. It doesn't help that I invariably put off filling them until the temperature is in the 30's. This flat of Sabal minor has done extremely well (the seeds "fell" into my pocket last year from a planting in the parking lot at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk), but I may not live to see them attain any size to speak of, considering the growth rate of that species in general.
I have high hopes for two new members of the aralia tribe, a variegated Fatsia japonica and its hybrid, Fatshedera 'Annemieke', a cultivar with beautiful golden variegation which was a gift last spring from Pam Harper. Both are looking great among the wreckage of the frost-bitten garden. I can't decide whether to spray the Fatsia with Wilt-pruf to offer it a little protection. I don't think it will die outright, but the wide bands of white variegation could be damaged by a hard freeze, ruining the appearance for months to come.
Inside I'm dealing, as always, with severe space issues. I have literally hundred of seedlings and cuttings which need to be pricked out or potted on, but no place to put them once these tasks are accomplished. I'm not sure what the answer is, since there is absolutely no more space in the garage light garden (or "pot garden", as my sister-in-law dubbed it), the greenhouse, or any of the cold frames. I guess it's just as well that I don't have time to do any of these things. I read that Mike Kartuz, a California nurseryman and expert in gesneriads in particular, often holds hundreds of seedlings in small pots for months on end without feeding them, potting them on at his convenience and beginning fertilization to induce growth. It doesn't sound like the best horticultural practice, but I can certainly see the necessity for it, and that's exactly how I'm handling several containers of Bletillas, Sinningias, Begonias, and other things which produce hundreds of progeny from a dusting of seeds (these are Bletilla seedlings from a cross I made in April of 2007.)Interesting to note - the picture below revealed, upon being enlarged, something that I hadn't noticed with my less-than-xray vision - a couple of these crowded miniature Sinningias are actually blooming under these conditions!
I should be doing a lot more outside right now, but short of my giving up the five hours of sleep I allow myself now, that's not in the cards. Acceptance of a messy, but interesting garden seems to be the best alternative at this stage of my life. There'll be time for weeding, raking, and pruning later (I hope.)

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November Snapshots

Not much time for prose right now, but a few pics of what was in bloom before the first real freeze, which occurred on November 19 this year. Anemone 'Honorine Jobert'
Arbutus unedo 'compacta' in berry and bloom at the same time, and worth every bit of extra care it requires re. winter protection and careful siting.
A big clump of Arum italicum, like a winter caladium in the landscape.
An unlabeled Camellia sasanqua, probably pretty close to the original type.
Camellia sasanqua 'Jean May'
Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'. Everyone posts this, and with good reason. I "accidentally" planted one in the front and another in the back, and can't bring myself to remove either, despite a desperate need for space.
A beautiful bug (as yet unidentified - any thoughts?) on my only Chrysanthemum, which I think is just called "Single Korean Apricot", also pictured below.

The last coleus standing - interesting that the different cultivars seem to have varying degrees of cold tolerance. I think this one is called 'Alabama Sunset'.
Probably the most photographed and posted plant in the garden this year, Crinum 'Emma Jones', still putting up scapes in mid-November. The one below, and another like it, have no hope of opening outside, so have been cut and brought into the house to see what happens.
Below, another Crinum, 'Walter Flory', also still in flower.
Crocus ochroleucus, grown in a pot for drainage reasons and so that it doesn't get lost.
Galanthus reginae-olgae, one of the fall blooming snowdrops. I just got one bulb of the other, G. peshmenii, which was my one bulb purchase of the year (this may change as Brent and Becky's Bulbs in Gloucester begins marking down their inventory this weekend.)
The first Hellebore of the season, a great plant of H. x nigercors. This hybrid between the Christmas Rose and the Corsican Hellebore has been a great producer of pale green blooms over the years, but this is the earliest it's ever been in flower.
Musa velutina, carrying fruit that's ornamental, but seedy. I was hoping the seed would have time to ripen, but that's not going to happen, at least not outside. I've cut the stems and put them in water - at least they'll be interesting to look at.
Nandina domestica, the yellow berried form. It's not as vigorous as the red variety, and the berries become discolored after hard freezes, but it's attractive for a while, at least.Another group of plants I've shown too much, but they really do provide three seasons of interest. Sarracenia leucantha comes into its own in fall, producing its best pitchers before our temperatures plunge.
Sarracenia minor 'Okeefenokee Giant' among the doomed salvias and cannas in mid-November.
Schizostylis coccinea blooming amid the wreckage; I cheat with this one, bringing it into the coldframe during the coldest part of the winter. It's not extremely productive here, but it blooms at an unusual time.
In winter, gardening has to move indoors. This terrarium started life as the jar out of which my great grandparents sold ginger snaps (they recommending topping them with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese) in their little store in Southampton County. Now it houses a rotating display of miniature and dwarf Sinningias; the ones that aren't currently blooming live under banks of fluorescent tubes on shelves in the garage.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Building the Ark

Symbolic of the current state of our busy lives is this moonflower, which has taken up residence on the unused hammock out back!
This is the busiest time of the year for me, both professionally and out in the garden, mainly because winter is at the doorstep and I've only just begun taking cuttings, rescuing tender plants that I want to carry over, and rebuilding the ramshackle structure that I loosely call a greenhouse. Covering it with a double layer of polyethylene every October is a drag, but until I can afford a commercially fabricated model (which will be never...), it's the best I can do. It's only 8' x 16', so deciding what to keep and what to let go (sometimes those things surprise me and winter over, even in pots) provides me with my personal version of "Sophie's Choice", appropriate in the city which bore William Styron (although he didn't remember it so fondly in his writing!)
We did have a nice bit of rain over the last two days, which saves me some time I would have spent watering today and has filled the rain barrels for now. The only drawback to these has been the time it takes to actually use the water they hold - not a problem during the summer, but moreso now that time and daylight are at a premium.
I like the look of these rain barrels a lot, but the non-draining wells on top are a subject of consternation. While they've provided nice places to grow this water hyacinth (Eichornia) and Sarracenia (a hybrid called 'Cobra's Nest' - sorry Mom!) during the summer, they also require constant vigilance and applications of BT to prevent their becoming mosquito nurseries. I may take them off entirely for the winter; I'm afraid the standing water will crack the plastic as it freezes and thaws. We've lost lots of concrete birdbaths that way in the past.
Things are still beautiful, in spots, right now; while hardy perennials and shrubs hunker down as cold weather approaches, the tropicals have no clue, so they blithely continue on.

This is one of my favorite fall combinations; the texture's a little fine, so it doesn't translate into a great picture, but I really like the "color echo" between the Sarracenia x wriggleyana 'Scarlet Belle' and the Salvia splendens 'Van Houteii' against the "ears" of the chartreuse Xanthosoma 'Lime Ginger'. The Salvia and elephant ear are both tender, so need to be propagated via cuttings and stolons, respectively. As stated before, so much of the color in my late season garden is derived from foliage, rather than flowers, that it doesn't seem to qualify for a "bloom day" posting. The Sarracenias are a case in point; some, such as leucantha and its hybrids, including 'Daina's Delight', wait until fall to produce their largest, most colorful pitchers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bloom Day II

Spiranthes cernua 'Chadd's Ford', probably the easiest, along with Bletilla striata, of all the hardy orchids. It's in danger of being shaded out by Nippon or Montauk Daisy (which was once Chrysanthemum nipponicum, but is now Nipponanthemum something-or-other, I think) and the ubiquitous Begonia grandis.

Below is Colocasia 'Black Magic' in combo with more favorite coleus. One project for this weekend is to start rooting cuttings of these.This is another fall favorite, Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans or rutilans...too lazy to check.) P.S. - Phillip calls it 'elegans', so that's good enough for me.
An aster purchased many years ago from Montrose, called "Our Latest One".
The latest of the Hedychiums to join the party, H. coronarium growing in too much sun for its own good, but doing okay. Still waiting for bloom on thyrsiforme and gardnerianum...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Installment Plan

I give up. There's just not enough time to do this right now, so I'm going to have to build my October "Bloom Day" post in installments. Between two jobs, family stuff, social obligations, exercise (a priority for people who like to eat as much as I do) and actual gardening (tasks such as rebuilding the greenhouse in prep for winter have to take precedence right now), it ain't gonna happen. So check back occasionally, and I'll add a picture or two when I get around to it. It's a shame, too, because October might be the time of the year when our garden looks the best. This is a combo of two old favorites that usually hides behind parked cars at the curb - Canna "Pretoria" (aka "Bengal Tiger") and Salvia leucantha, which is hardy here most years.

The camellia season starts now, and this white sasanqua ('Setsugekka'?) is beautiful. I've rooted cuttings of the double white 'Mini no yuki', which always blooms around Thanksgiving at my parents' house, but they're painfully slow in putting on any growth. 'Winter's Star' is one of the cold hardy hybrids developed by Dr. William Ackerman, and it does really well in a tough position here.

'Shishi Gashira' will be covered in bloom from now through New Year's, making it one of the longest blooming of all Camellias here.
Lots of perennials and 'temperennials' are at their peaks right now; below is a white form of Ruellia which is probably a different species from the taller, purple one.
To the left is a close up view of Lobelia 'Candy Corn', which waited until almost Halloween to produce these blooms. Also in the 'candy corn' spectrum is this seedling of Sinningia sellovii which produces blooms tipped in yellow. This is one of the longest blooming perennials in my garden now, and the tubers are easy to dig and store for 'insurance' purposes.
That's it for now - lots more to post, but time to get on the "hamster wheel"...

Friday, September 19, 2008

To Each His Own... My Own Personal "Garden Rant"

I'm entering a liberating stage as a gardener, thanks to the examples set by friends. There is a time when one feels the need to grow every plant, and to believe every claim made by the gardening industry about the latest developments in horticulture. The last couple of years, Echinaceas and Heucheras have been the darlings of the nursery business, and I'm sure the hype is deserved, at least in some areas of the country. The fact that my garden is full (to say the least) makes it easier to keep from rushing out and purchasing the latest plant superstars (the prospect of some expensive dental work looming this summer is a pretty good deterrent, as well), but the best reason not to buy EVERY plant is that there are some things I just don't like. I guess this means that I'm that much closer to having the summer night smile on me for the third time (yeah, it's an obscure reference to "A Little Night Music" - if I'm coming out as an opinionated gardener, I may as well also admit to being a musical theater afficianado), but if that's the case, so be it.

At one time I wouldn't have been comfortable saying that, but at my age, I realize that one only has so much time, energy, and real estate, so he might as well concentrate on growing things he enjoys and appreciates. One friend, on visiting my garden for the first time, was asked by another visitor if she had ever tried growing any of the hardy palms in her garden. Much of the structure in my front garden is provided by a collection of Trachycarpus species, which I happen to really love. Her response was that she hadn't, mainly because she didn't really like them. I was not offended at all, partly because of the kindness in her tone, but mainly because her comment seemed so supportive of my contention that our gardens belong to us, not to the horticultural industry, the gardening cognoscenti, or (worst of all) the neighborhood associations. When I offer plants to people (sometimes it's either give them away or compost 'em), I get lots of different responses, but only once has anyone ever said, "No thanks - I really don't care for those." Interestingly, in the intervening years I've decided I don't care for them, either (Althea "Bluebird") - they're weedy shrubs which reseed everywhere - which is why I was trying to give them away!

The recent glut of Echinacea varieties is a case in point - it's just not my favorite plant, and I don't use up a lot of garden space on it. I felt bad about this for years, until I read an interview with Dan Hinkley in which he was asked if there were any plants he disliked - bingo! (Now if someone could just make me feel okay about being a Democrat in public... )I keep one, seed grown plant of E. purpurea (if you look very closely at the photo below, you might just spot it), and that's mainly to appease Ron - he's still hoping the plant really has the curative properties for which it became famous in past decades, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. We've never once ingested any part of the Echinaceas we've grown, so it's mostly a mental thing. I think looking at it counteracts all of his misgivings about venturing outside during allergy season (or, for that matter, during ANY season). Anyway, they just don't grow very well for me (mostly a consequence of poor drainage), so I can't justify the expense of building and maintaining a collection of all of the latest cultivars.
As I mentioned in another recent post, I have an aversion to Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro'; I got one many years ago when it was the only rebloomer available. Since it multiplied so rapidly, I used lots of it to cover ground and edge beds when we first moved here. It had gotten so much media hype that I figured I had to like its chunky, mustardy blooms, no matter what. Part of the problem may be visual; I've decided that this particular hue is not pleasing to my eyes, since I feel pretty much the same way about Kerria, Coreopsis 'Zagreb' (don't tell Ron this cultivar exists - his Croatian heritage would demand that we install one immediately!) and Forsythia (I don't grow this, but I don't mind seeing it, either, since it functions as a powerful harbinger of spring.) My feelings may also stem from growing up with grandparents who survived the depression- if a plant is going to produce blooms that mimic those of summer squash, it might as well earn its keep and actually produce something I can stuff, slice, or grill!
I know my next revelation runs counter to a mantra intoned by everyone I know who wears the mantle of "Master Gardener" (another subject with which I have a few issues; let's not go there right now...), but here it is anyway. I'm pretty much over the ornamental grass thing. I do enjoy the way some of them look for part of the year, but they take up way too much room as they mature, work me to death (I'll spend most of my time tomorrow chopping them back for the third time this year to regain the ability to walk even one abreast on the path between the island bed and the back fence), and reseed with abandon, despite what most references will tell you. Maybe those folks who live in climates which are colder and less amenable to Miscanthus species don't have to work so hard, but I spend loads of time and tear my fingers to shreds pulling out volunteers all over the garden. Worst still are the seedlings that I don't catch in time - they form massive clumps (a couple are just plain green, without the attractive variegation of their progenitors) for which the only removal technique may well be the ignition of dynamite at their crowns; even that might not work. I would love to eliminate several clumps which have engulfed entire rosebushes, shaded out perennials, and provided years of symbiotic safe haven to the dreaded Japanese honeysuckle, rendering both the vine and the host impenetrable to spades, shovels, axes, post-hole diggers, and even my grandfather's infamous "grubbing hoe" (his name for it - I've seen them listed by the much more genteel name "grape hoe.") Yes, they're graceful, they provide winter interest (especially to people with way too much time and spray paint on their hands), and they contrast beautifully in form to plants with leaves of different design; I can't look at my ten or so clumps any more without feeling totally defeated as a gardener.
Here's some more blashphemy: I don't really cotton (pun intended) to things with airy, delicate, wispy little flowers in big, puffy clouds. So Deutzias, Abelias, Exochordas, and a lot of the Spiraeas are not high on my list of favorites. One of the recent media darlings that I really don't get is Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' - why not just plant ragweed, or the wild Artemesia which, no matter how much I pull out all summer, still manages a panicle or two of blooms to produce the next generation of weeds? I love some Salvias as much as the next guy, but all species seem to be sacred to the garden writers of America. That's fine, but a lot of them look like weeds to me, at least as they interact here. I tossed out S. uliginosa (someone with mild dyslexia could probably transform that species name into an appropriate adjective to describe my impression of this wispy, wimpy weed) a couple of years ago, along with several clones of S. microphylla. "Microphylla" pretty much describes my problem with that one - as Miss Hannigan sings about "little girls", "Everything about them is...LLLLLLLLittle!".
One issue here may be that familiarity breeds contempt. Hellebores have long been among my favorites, and I've been growing, breeding, and collecting them for nearly 20 years. When I started, they were nearly impossible to obtain, and nobody else had them. Now they're at Lowe's every spring for $5.99, and I find my interest beginning to wane, especially as tissue culture makes the really spectacular clones available to just anybody. Another phenomenon, to continue with the obnoxious musical theater references, is what I like to call (with a nod to Stephen Sondheim, one of the true geniuses of our time), the "God, why don't you love me? Oh, you do? I'll see ya later!" blues... I'm fascinated by plants which defy my cultivation and will squander any amount of money on them, knowing full well that they are destined to become very expensive compost. Once I "crack the code", my level of enthusiasm is greatly reduced. We were just lousy with Cattleya hybrids once upon a time, but growing them got tedious once I figured out how to water them. Maybe, on the other hand, I tell myself this to lessen the tragedy of losing them all to scale infestations, which continue to this day. The truth often hurts as I analyze the psychology that motivates me to garden (or to do just about anything, for that matter!).
I guess it all boils down to this: I have less than 1/4 acre, and, if I'm lucky, another 30 odd years in which to cultivate it actively, and I don't want to waste a square inch or a single minute of either. Life's just too short. It's similar to a stance (somewhat unpopular among many of my friends) that I've adopted regarding community theater. No matter how much I love someone, I adamantly refuse to endure another amateur production of Mame, Hello Dolly! or Nunsense (in any of its incarnations). I admit to being motivated on some level by bitterness - how many similar showcase roles are there for tenors who have reached "a certain age" (at least for those of us who are disinclined to appear in drag)? So go ahead; knock yourself out. Plant that Boltonia, Aruncus, or Clematis tangutica and belt out your unique rendition of "Rose's Turn". Just don't be angry with me when I'm not enthused about adopting your rooted cuttings or staying awake for your inevitable standing ovation (everybody always gets one now, no matter what, courtesy of Oprah) at the Podunk Little Theatre.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bloom Day September 2008

I have to apologize for this disjointed post - I'm short on time, having some tech difficulties, yada, yada, yada. Anyway, here's what I've thrown together for now:
Although many Salvias, including S. darcyi (left) have been blooming all summer (this one's been engaged in a territorial dispute with one of the perennial Lathyrus for several years now), they're really beginning to come into their own now. Lots of them are definitely hardy here, especially if they're not cut down after frost, which can be a test of restraint for those who like tidy beds - the dead stems aren't very attractive. However, for lazy people like myself, it's a great excuse to do something else.
This Salvia, S. involucrata 'Bethelii', returns here pretty dependably, but I like to keep a couple in the greenhouse for insurance. It's called "rosebud" sage because of the ball of overlapping bracts that forms at the end of each stem and will subsequently unfurl into fuzzy magenta blooms for weeks to come.
Salvia "Purple Majesty" has not been hardy here, probably owing to the S. gesneriflora in its background. This is planted next to the pool containing a tropical Nymphaea, "Panama Pacific", which is the exact same color as the salvia; unfortunately, they never seem to be in bloom at the exact same moment in time. It's kind of like a "color echo", but with a 2 second delay.Above is a volunteer Tricyrtis seedling (I'm guessing it's a white form of hirta, but they're fairly promiscuous, showing up all over the garden) which landed in a bit more sun than it probably would prefer. It's covered with blooms, but the foliage has a lot of burned spots. Too bad gardeners can't live in houses which face east on all sides to accomodate all of the plants which prefer that exposure.
This is Achimenes 'Harry Williams', reputed to be hardy (as is 'Purple King', for sure), and getting ready for its first winter here in Tidewater Virginia.

To the right is Musa velutina in bud - I'm sure the bloom will make it until we have a frost, but there won't be time for the small bananas, which are colorful but inedible, to develop. I didn't notice this until tropical storm Hannah broke off a couple of the leaves near the stem (which was about the only impact I noticed, even though the storm passed directly over us.)
I'm willing to go on record as saying that I intensely dislike Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro' (I don't much care for this harsh shade of yellow in other plants, either), and have pretty much booted it off my property, but this is at least a little interesting - a bloom with some extra petals. The slight doubling makes it look a little less like a zucchini blossom. Time will tell whether this is a fluke or a stable mutation; if it's the latter, it'll be a lot harder to pitch it in the compost. I can't even give 'em away, since people only want containerized plants, and I'm not willing to give up my soil, or, for that matter, a decent pot, in the name of spreading this overplanted little pest!

Dendrobium canaliculatum is a tiny epiphytic orchid from Australia which spends the summer hanging out in whatever large shrub has a bare branch or two. This plant has been in my collection for at least 12 years, and it's no bigger than 4" in total height.

Cymbidium Golden Elf 'Sundust' spends the summer integrated into the flower beds and usually produces its blooms well before being returned to the greenhouse for the winter.
Above is one of the Chirita hybrids, a Chinese gesneriad which blooms very happily when bedded out for the summer. This family provides lots of color when used in this manner, and several members are proving hardy as well (haven't tried this one yet).

Lycoris are mainstays of the September garden, especially L. radiata, which is scattered all over my garden (shown here popping up amid Lantana 'Miss Huff' and Setcreasia pallida). Above is the pale species (maybe a natural hybrid?), L. albiflora.
I’m not sure “Bloom Day” is the most appropriate showcase for my garden in September; although there are tons of flowers in evidence, much of the visual interest here in late summer/early autumn is in lush, colorful foliage in a variety of contrasting shapes. Colocasias, Cannas, Bananas, Coleus (okay, “Solenostenum”), Sarracenias, Begonias, Tetrapanax, Arisaemas, Caladiums, and numerous species of hardy palms, ferns, and grasses add to the overall effect. These faux (and some real) tropicals carry my garden far into fall, which, if we get enough rain, can be long, warm, and spectacular. Much of the actual bloom in the garden is thanks to plants which started several months ago, but there are still many new plants putting out flowers at this time of year.

This is Hedychium 'Pink V', blooming in front of Trachycarpus takil, with Crape Myrtle 'Yuma', still blooming three months later, in the background.

I know I posted it last month as well, but Begonia grandis, in both its white and pink color forms, definitely bears repeating. It's almost weedy, but a major workhorse in the late summer garden. Its form changes as the blooms mature, and the pendulous fruiting bodies provide a lot of color and interest well into November.

No flowers on these red okra right now, although the pale yellow hibiscus blooms which precede the red pods are attractive. These are growing in pots in front of the garage, and have been attractive (not to mention tasty in jambalaya) all summer, despite having been backed over by the pickup a couple of times and battered by wind. The pods turn green when cooked. As the lower leaves have dropped off, I'm underplanting them with rainbow chard seeds, which will provide color and salad pickings all winter.

Above is BC Binosa 'Wabash Valley', one of the toughest of my remaining epiphytic orchids. It seems resistant to the scale which decimated the rest of my collection years ago, and blooms happily when hanging outside on the fence in late summer.
Anthericum saundersii is a useful little tender perennial (it survived last winter, but that isn't saying much) in the Chlorophytum (spider plant) tribe which looks like a grass or sedge, but produces these wands of flowers that look good arching over the edges of ponds.

My biggest dilemma in siting the more diminuitive fall bloomers is that many remain hidden among the burgeoning vegetation; there must be at least 50 Cyclamen hederifolium, cilicium, graecum, and purpurascens in bloom around the yard, but unless you know where to look, you miss them entirely. I’d love to grow more fall Crocus, Sternbergia, and to try some Colchicums (I never have), but there aren’t many places where the blooms wouldn’t be swamped at this time of year. Raised beds and pots are about the best solutions I’ve found to this problem, and it’s here that I grow things like Acis autumnale, some of the rarer Rhodophialas, and Galanthus reginae olgae. I’m doing my best to limit pics this month to things which are in bloom now but have not been in past months, so this is just a small cross section of what you might see as you fought your way through the “jungle” right now. Rhodophiala bifida, the most commonly grown species. R. spathacea is pink, but hasn't begun to bloom yet.
Not a bloom, but I love this coleus, which is planted in the middle of an old clump of amsonia (I excised the dead center this spring, but decided to leave the rest of the clump where it is, plopping this plant down in the center as a place holder.) Anybody know the name of this cultivar? I've long since forgotten it - I winter over cuttings of about a dozen varieties every year.
Zephyranthes candida, self-sown among the trumpets of Sarracenia rubra.
Vernonia, a very attractive, at least in bloom, native plant which refuses to be eliminated from the front border (it's pretty ugly for nine months of the year).
Tulbaghia violacea ("Society Garlic"), a South African plant that is dependably perennial here and loves lots of water when it's hot. It's here in the green and variegated forms.
The pink form of Ruellia brittoniana, I think. These have naturalized in pink, white, and the ubiquitous blue, and they love the heat.
Senecio confusus, Mexican flame vine. I save cuttings of this over the winter, but my plants from last summer returned as well after our warm winter.
Rudbeckia laciniata, growing in shade beneath a red cedar - totally the wrong place for it, but that's where it planted itself. I pulled out the original plants years ago, but seedlings persist in odd places around the yard.
Another extremely tardy bloom on Sarracenia flava - I've never seen pitcher plants blooming as late as a couple of mine have this summer. This one, a "copper top" selection of the species, also bloomed in April; its somewhat outward facing flowers, very unlike those of the other clones that I grow, seem to be consistently produced.
Okay, once again, not a bloom, but pretty cool - Sarracenia alabamensis (which produces its best pitchers toward fall) simultaneously playing host to a milkweed bug and a wasp.
I thought I had eradicated all of the Passiflora coerulea from the garden after it became a pernicious weed a few years back, but this one survives, and I didn't have the heart to yank it out.
Again, not a bloom, but the aftermath thereof - berries on Arisaema trifolium, against a frond of evergreen Korean fern (Polystichum polyblepharum?).
Blue African basil, a sterile hybrid with a pretty strong flavor - a little goes a long way in food, but the blooms are attractive, and they keep coming, since they don't set seed. This one's totally tender, but cuttings are simple to root in fall.
Justicia (aka Jacobinia) carnea, which is tropical, but has wintered over for me both here and at my parents' house since we brought it back from a childhood vacation in the '70's. I can't remember the exact year, but I remember going, during that same trip, to the visitor's center in Orlando that housed the model of what Disney World would look like when it was built. The original plant came from a flea market (the seller called it a "Pinecone Geranium") somewhere in Florida, and has part of the family ever since.
Hemerocallis 'Barbara', the latest flowering cultivar I've found. It started blooming three weeks ago and is still at it. I like that it's tall enough to be seen above the rank growth of Salvia, etc. in the late summer beds. I know - it's almost the same color as the dreaded 'Stella d'Oro', but it makes up for that by being taller and more graceful in shape. I wouldn't grow it if it bloomed in July, but I'm happy to see it in September (as much as I'm happy about anything in September - it's a "teacher thing"...)
Nicotiana langsdorffii, which reseeds randomly and also returns for two or three years in a favorable location. I tried to photograph its navy blue anthers, but they're not evident here. The only other true navy blue that occurs in my garden shows up in the seeds of a white-spotted strain of Helleborus - talk about a really distant color echo!
One of the varieties of Hedychium coccineum, probably 'Tara'. I've had it forever, so the nomenclature is questionable. Still waiting in the wings, but beginning to show buds, are H. coronarium, thyrsifolium, 'Elizabeth', and my favorite, gardnerianum.
Again, not a bloom, but pretty cool nonetheless. Before I took a closer look at this fungus, I was complaining about our neighbors' having tossed their old orange peels over the fence. Of course, I throw them in the flowerbeds all the time (they're supposed to deter cats), but those are MY orange peels, and therefore somehow inoffensive...
Clematis paniculata (it has another name that starts with "max-", but I'm too lazy to look it up), another thing I didn't plant, and threaten to rip out (as if that were possible) every year until it blooms. I like it with the grasses and Colocasia antiquorum 'Illustris' in the foreground.
Berries on the native Callicarpa just beginning to turn purple. It's an ugly shrub for most of the year, another holdover from my native plant craze (I got over that), but I do like the berries.
Bulbine frutescens, a tender little South African succulent, kind of like a miniature kniphofia, but everblooming once it gets going. It's easy to propagate and carry over from cuttings of side shoots.
Anemone vitifolium. Lots of sources list this as a rampant grower which takes over planting beds; I wish it were moreso here, along with 'Honorine Jobert', a white cultivar. They're both beautiful, but not happy enough in my garden to become problematic, apparently.Clerodendron speciosissimum - I'm tentatively calling this a dieback shrub here, since it has returned for two years now. It seems to take forever to bloom, and never achieves the size it does as an overwintered plant, but the color makes a big impact.

This is by no means a complete representation of what's blooming here; many things of which I've posted pictures in previous months are still in bloom, including roses, Begonias, gesneriads, Cyclamen, rain lilies, Cannas, Crinums, Amarcrinum, and others many too numerous to mention. I wish I had more time to work in the garden right now, much less photograph and write about it, but those pursuits are taking a distant back seat to work and family demands right now. The garden, at any rate, is one thing that gets me through this time of year, providing much to look forward to even as the new school year, winter weather, and the hectic holiday season prepare to exact their annual toll on my aging psyche.