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.


Carol said...

Wow, that's a lot of blooms. Your gardens must be very large, or very full or both! I've got to go back and study these pics a bit more.

Thanks for joining in for bloom day!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Cosmo said...

hi, Jeff! I've missed reading your postings, but I know how crazy things get once school starts--I have trouble getting in more than one a week. But you made up for it--I'm always amazed by how much you have going. I LOVE Hedychium--if you get over to my blog, maybe you can tell me whether mine is coronarium or flavescens? Anyway, I've written down all of your cultivars and I'm going to look for them--I could fill a whole bed with them. Ok, going on too long, great to see what's going on in your garden! Best, Cosmo

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I wouldn't want to live in a house that was all east-facing, I'd want some north & south too, but I could definitely do without a western exposure. Of course I can say that because my shade garden is on the east side of my house. I've never seen an all white Tricyrtis, it is quite beautiful. You've got an amazing variety of blooms.

ICQB said...

I've never seen that particular type of coleus before - I love it!

You have so many wonderful things. When someone has so much variety, you know they are committed (and talented).

Thanks for sharing your blooms.

Kim said...

I greatly enjoyed all your flowers - so many things I have never seen before and so much loveliness.

If you'd like to check out my blog, go here.

I have a Google/Blogger account, but I don't blog there. I was so impressed with your flowers that I looked up my account info just so I could comment.

Jeff said...

Thanks for the kind comments, all. I really enjoy visiting your sites as well, and wish I had the time to comment more on your creativity and good gardening. I'm afraid my garden is not very large (about 1/4acre), but it is WAY too full. I've definitely sacrificed good design for the sake of acquiring this "plant zoo", and many individual plants would be better off if I gave them more space. Mine is largely a therapeutic garden (for myself) at this point in my life - some people drink; I grow too many plants.

At any rate, thanks for visiting and letting me hear from you. Kim, I'm really glad to hear that you're on the mend after your bout with pneumonia, and honored that you went to the trouble to leave a comment here for me!

Jeff said...

Forgot to say, icqb, that I wish I were more talented as a gardener, and definitely should be committed!

Les, Zone 8a said...

Disjointed? Thrown together? How about amazing and diverse. Your garden reminds me of a bumper sticker over my desk "So Many Species, So Little Time".

I took a few photos in an attempt to post for bloom day, but when I looked at them it was not worth the effort. Sept. is a hard time for me to show a lot of blossoms, it is better for foliage and berries. By the way, I also have too many plants AND I like to drink - twice addicted.

Phillip said...

Amazing amount of blooms Jeff! I have several gingers but they never bloom for me - any suggestions?

HappyMouffetard said...

Wonderful array of flowers - so many plants I now want!