I’ve had zero reseeding issues with this NSO and it looks particularly killer this time of year.
This deciduous shrub has been a savior for me. The deer have ignored it. The wet soil doesn’t bother it one bit. The suckering has been minimal and I’m OK with it if it picks up in the future.
While the blooms were fantastic back a few weeks, I’ve come to appreciate the foliage color more and more. As it lightens in color now that September has arrived, it provides a great contrast to so many other nearby plants.
Stonecrop (Sedum) ‘Autumn Fire’
Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)
New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)
Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea)
Sonecrop (Sedum) ‘Matrona’ (Yes, the deer nibble. Why only a little bit I’ll never know. Maybe it’s a rabbit?)
Obedient Plant (Physostegia) ‘Vivid’
Veronica in front of Obedient Plant ‘Vivid’.
Allium ‘Mt Sinai’
One last show
I cut back the Catmint (Nepeta) ‘Walker’s Low’ one last time a few weeks back and the reward has been just enough new flowers to keep things interesting.
The slightest foliage color change on the Mountain Mint.
Same goes for Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’.
One leaf at a time on the Viburnum carlesii.
Yes, it never bloomed but the foliage color on Hydrangea ‘Lady in Red’ is still solid. Especially next to the dark-leaved Ninebark ‘Diablo’.
Not so subtle autumn
You’ll continue to see Amsonia hubrichtii and Itea ‘Little Henry’ from me on a weekly basis throughout the fall.
And Amsonia and Panicum (Switch Grass) as well.
The Viburnum ‘All That Glitters’ is in like the hardcore autumn phase.
It takes this deep into the season for the front bed to truly shine as the grasses emerge, fall foliage color subtly appears and late summer blooms arrive.
A step back from the same scene …
… and another step back.
Physostegia (Obedient Plant) ‘Vivid’
This mass started as only 7 small plants over a year ago. It has filled in at an insane level. I like.
I love me all different shades of green. I find this section of the garden soothing. Who’s with me?
Paralysis by analysis
I have stared at this scene for weeks now. I like it but I don’t. While it’s full and a good mix of flowers, foliage, texture, etc, something is amiss. I’m close to figuring it out but would appreciate your input.
This section of the garden is going to be the best in a few years. You can’t see it now but trust me, there is a lot going on here and it’s all awesome. I can’t wait to share it when it explodes in awesomeness.
The seed heads on the Baptisia transformed to dark black this week. I like.
Leave it alone
This combo hasn’t been touched for three years now. That must be a record for me.
Delicious foliage color
Panicum and Amsonia. But you knew that already because I talk about it every week.
Here is why Andropogon (Big Bluestem) is also known as turkeyfoot. You’re welcome.
The berries on the Viburnum ‘Emerald Lustre’ continue to explode. More than I’ve had in ten years of its existence. I like.
Fine, I’ll admit it. I don’t know what this white blooming plant is. I just know that I never planted it. It has fleshy stems that multiple like mad from year to year. Help a gardener out won’t you?
What the hell is that?
There are a bunch of Northern Sea Oats growing underneath this Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’. It has created this bizarre mash-up that looks even stranger as the Itea develops its fall color.
The Chelone lyonii (Turtlehead) ‘Hot Lips’ typically look like crap by now. All of the flowers turn black and become an eye sore. Not this year so far. I like.
Do as I say …
For those of you who bought my book, I specifically pointed out that Lady’s Mantle requires some extra attention once the blooms stop and the weather turns hot and dry in summer. I should probably follow my own advice next year.
The signs of autumn are becoming less and less subtle. The Itea ‘Little Henry’ in the front are half green/half scarlet red. The Amsonia hubrichtii is revealing orange hues throughout. The Panicum in the upper left is now showing signs of its yellow fall color and even the blooms on Joe Pye Weed are transitioning to a richer and darker pink.
The blooms on Pennisetum ‘Desert Plains’ recently emerged in full force.
A smorgasbord of ornamental grass blooms. It’s tough to identify them all individually but included here are Panicum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’, Karl Foerster grass and Indian Grass.
And now here they all are individually.
I took a few steps back for this picture of Indian Grass to show just how prolific it is as a focal point at the end of my driveway.
Red for days on Panicum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’.
Those Karl Foerster blooms still soaking up the sun like champs.
Lobelia siphilitica (Cardinal flower) still popping up everywhere, including smack dab in the middle of this ornamental grass.
Have I mentioned Amsonia in every post so far this year? Here’s another one.
You know I attempted (key word here) to remove all of my Northern Sea Oats. While it continues to stick around, there’s no denying that it is stunning in the right light.
I’ll take the blush/pink faded blooms of this Hydrangea over the bright white blooms any day. Quintessential late summer color.
There are very few berries on Viburnum ‘Emerald Lustre’ that have been missed by the birds.
Boltonia in full bloom, fortunately being held up by the neighboring Miscanthus ‘Variegatus’.
Vernonia noveboracensis (New York Ironweed) while blooming, has been devoured by some critter so it’s a bit ugly right now. Yuck.
What else would I lead with at this time of year? Duh. I’m well aware that my last post featured Flame Grass, but I couldn’t resist featuring it yet again. Those silvery blooms blowing in the wind bring the garden to life. Once that green foliage color turns every imaginable shade of orange, it will be sensory overload.
Can you say focal point? Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) is killer right now. While I love it massed for maximum effect, it can hold its own on its own. While the flowers or inflorescence are a show-stopper, give me the sturdy blue stems any day of the week. Even on a Monday.
The red is really shining through on Panicum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’. These grasses are incredibly fool-proof and have been for over a decade now.
Multiple grasses are anchoring this garden scene. I’ll say it again, as ubiquitous as it may be, the upright and tan blooms of Karl Foerster grass add so much to the late summer garden. Massed or dotted throughout the garden, it doesn’t matter. It works and I won’t stop using it any time soon.
Just a different Instagram filter for a different vibe.
Fine, you win
I cut it down to the ground in early spring. I cut it back again in June. I chopped off a ton of the branches after they were infested with Japanese beetles.
It doesn’t matter. This Salix ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ (Dappled Willow) just keeps growing and growing. If I’m being honest, I’m bored with it but I can’t imagine trying to remove it.
Not looking good
All of my Achillea (Yarrow) ‘Moonwalker’ look like this or worse. The funny thing is they thrived earlier in the summer like never before.
I told myself I wouldn’t dabble in red-blooming Lobelias any longer. They have never escaped the jaws of the deer or the rabbits. Just when all 5 were starting to look great while blooming together, this happened. I even sprayed the bastards with Deer Off the night before.
You know I love me some Sneezeweed ‘Mariachi Series’. But for the first time since I’ve planted them, they are toppling over. It may have been due to a recent deluge of rain so I’ll do my best to remain patient.
Yes, still awkwardly running after each and every Monarch butterfly.
Autumn has arrived
This is the Viburnum that I ceremoniously moved to a new location in the garden a few weeks back. I’m sure the red leaves are due to the stress I put on it and not the fact that fall has come a few weeks to early. Either way, that color is solid and I have big hopes for the future as it matures.
But even better is the sign of all of those berries. This is a Viburnum dentatum ‘All That Glitters’ which requires ‘All That Glows’ as a pollinator. I have both planted close to each other and I’m assuming this is the result of that pollination. They should turn purple in color in the coming weeks.
All of my Itea (Virginia Sweetspire) turn red prematurely in August. This is the dwarf cultivar ‘Little Henry’ which I’m allowing to sucker like mad in a very wet part of the garden.
While it may be slight, you can start to see the color transformation in the foliage of the Amsonia.
The Red Twig Dogwood just displayed its red stems for the first time this week. And for those curious, the leaf damage was from Japanese beetles a few weeks back.
Ready to shine
The Eupatorium ‘Wayside’ (Hardy Ageratum) are starting to bloom.
But have they ever taken over.
So many of you warned me of this and it is coming to fruition. It may be OK this year, but I see a problem with the years to come. I’ll need to jump on this soon to prevent a total takeover.
Helenium (Sneezweed) has popped up all over my garden where I least expected it and I’m good with that. That is until it falls over when the many flowers emerge at once.
They may not “shine” but Chelone lyonii (Turtlehead) ‘Hot Lips’ adds a nice dash of color in late summer.
My continuing use of annuals
I’ve added Heliotrope …
… and Persian Shield
… and I must admit I might be coming around even more on using annuals. As many of you know, I’ve rarely used annuals in the garden outside of containers but finally embraced them this year. I’m getting the “fill-in” functionality and long bursts of color. While I prefer to grow over time with my plants, I may be finally crossing the dark side.
In terms of the garden, things are looking eh; a little worn out and beaten up from all of the rain this past week.
I’ve missed Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day for a months running but fortunately remembered it for today. Before diving into my garden pics, here are a few other GBBD posts from some of my friends around the country.
It’s very rare that I’m blessed with large chunks of time to tend to my garden. The more likely scenario is that I’ve got a half-hour before heading to work in the morning. Or 15 minutes between conference calls. Or 7 minutes before the family emerges outside and insists that we depart for vacation.
Those tiny pockets of time are crucial in terms of prioritizing what needs to get done. I’m not above setting a schedule for the week where I identify my potential “gardening available time” or GAT as it’s known in my household. Each GAT is assigned one or two must-do tasks (logged in Excel of course), knowing that I must also eradicate a few weeds along the way.
No f’n around with this gardening stuff.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled the results of one of my recent GAT sessions. This one ended up with a duration of 17 minutes and I like to think it’s a realistic representation of how these sessions typically proceed.
As with everything in my life, it all starts with coffee. It doesn’t have to be morning coffee only. I enjoy and take advantage of its caffeine prowess throughout the day.
As I finish my last cup, I start to get myself pumped up. A few grunts here and a few air punches there and I’m primed to go. By the time I’m done, I have my game-face on.
Once I’m good and fired up, I head out to the garage and step into my favorite boots. Take notice of the length of the laces. I’ve never tied them over the years out of pure laziness and as a result, they’ve slowly torn off over time. I may have mistaken the pieces of lace as a small snake more than once over the years.
Once the footwear is secured, I head over to my collection of garden “stuff” and grab what I deem necessary for the current GAT.
For today, I determined that I’d first put on my trusty gloves and just do a quick walk around the garden before determining what was to be accomplished first. These Atlas Nitrile gloves are the absolute best by the way.
Yes, there are holes emerging at the fingertips, but I’ve used these extensively for three years running. And yes, that is a Fitbit on my wrist. I’ll often purposely forget a tool just so I can walk back to the garage and retrieve it, therefore upping my step totals.
So shoes and gloves are on and now it’s time to determine where we attack first. And I say “attack” because that has to be the mentality when there is limited time. I take a right turn out of the garage and down this path, into the backyard.
Once I’ve traversed the path, I glance to the right to evaluate this section of garden. It’s a somewhat young and developing section and I initially wanted to tweak it a little bit. Fill in some gaps, prune a bit or even relocate a shrub here from elsewhere in the garden. After 13 seconds of reflection, I decide to hold off for now as it quickly slides down the priority list.
We move on.
But first I get a close look at this apple tree and get sad and really angry. Year two and it looks like a pile of hot garbage. But I can’t revel in the anger right now. It needs to be pushed to the subconscious.
Shit, how did I end up here? Now I’m looking at the Northern Sea Oats that have emerged from underneath the Amsonia. I frickin hate NSO.
Again, I can’t let that slow me down today. Just grin and bear it, John.
Finally, I make my way to task number 1. I need to cut back the very spent flowers of the Catmint ‘Walker’s Low’. They line my front walkway and look tired and unappealing in their current state. I can’t have visitors judging me as they walk to my front door.
Time to cut them back severely.
Time to take the walk back to the garage where I not only grab the required tool, but also increase my steps number.
Yes, this is a battery-powered hedge trimmer because you know I’m evolved like that.
Wait, what is that? Let me put down the trimmer and grab my phone out of my pocket.
Sweet. Where was I?
Oh yeah, the Catmint.
17 seconds later and the job is done.
Clean-up can be completed during the afternoon GAT.
While I’m thrilled that the task can be checked off of the to-do list, it does result in the exposure of the poison ivy that has been plaguing me for years now.
I’ll have to schedule time with my wife so she can attend to pulling these.
While I was chopping down the Catmint, my peripheral vision provided me with my next task. Since I already have the trimmer out, why not cut down the Veronica as well? They are clearly in need of a haircut.
Oh how pretty. Look how that Veronica bloom fell perfectly on top of the Sedum ‘Red Carpet’. That’s a great photo, let me grab the phone again. Instagram, here we come.
Look at that, that one phlox I saved from near death in early spring and divided into 5 sections is actually blooming. Damn I’m awesome. I’m like the plant whisperer.
Back on task.
These three weeds need to go. They are destroying the view of this killer combo of Clethra and Panicum ‘Northwind’. This has gone on for too long.
With one single-handed grasp and pull …
… they’re all gone, roots and all.
While I’m ruthless with the weeds, I’m still careful to not remove my nearby struggling New York Ironweed during the carnage.
How much better does this little vignette look now?
One last task before we head back indoors. Time to hand prune these other Veronica plants out back … wait … is that what I think it is? … yes it is … screw these pruners …
This is where I’ve spent a lot of my time the past week.
Temps have been in the 90’s here in Jersey and it’s been wicked humid. That doesn’t mean I haven’t busted my hump out in the garden though. I’ve been weeding like a mo fo and just before I’m ready to pass out, I head to this rocker in the shade, drink gallons of water and rest up until I’m ready to get back out there again.
Call me crazy, but I love this weather. It’s uncomfortable and the bugs are all up in my business, but this is what separates the hardcore gardeners from the casual gardeners. I love the sweat and the head rushes and the feeling of toughing out; not to mention the post-weeding cold shower avec a tasty cold beverage.
It didn’t take long for this ornamental grass to get established as its only been in my garden for 3 years now and it started off as a tiny little plug.
While the grass leaves are only about 2 feet in height, it’s pushing 6′ – 7′ in height while in bloom.
I’m still tinkering with how to best use it in terms of design. I did follow a suggestion of planting it in front of a dark background as seen in the photo above where it is situated in front of a Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’ shrub.
From another angle though, you can see how it can easily be lost in the garden shuffle.More to come as I joyously tinker and as the fall color emerges in a few weeks.
Filling in nicely
New garden bed and path back in 2010.
And current day where I am now running out of room for a path.
A good problem to have.
Never give up
I tried desperately to grow a Red Twig Dogwood in at least 5 different locations in my garden dating back a decade or more. The deer always got it or it simply never thrived.
I tried one in a container and it did OK but I feared it dying over the winter in that container so I knew I had to transplant it elsewhere.
On a whim, I planted it along the foundation of the house and the rest is history. She’s about 5′ to 6′ tall right now and that is after I cut it to the ground in March.
The deer don’t frequent this area that often but they will chew on some of the plants here sporadically.
True story: There is a large gap between the two sidewalk stones right in front of the dogwood and I’ve convinced myself that it messes with the footing of the deer so I haven’t adjusted it for years running now. Crazy? Maybe.
The sad thing is that the one bloom is still more than the last two years combined. In fact, this hydrangea has never bloomed well.
But it takes up space, comes back every year and has decent fall color.
Not significantly bad enough to justify eradication.
Seed heads are good
You’ve heard me say it a million times (including in my new book). Keep those spent flowers on Baptisia because they add such an interesting element from summer through winter. Here’s how they look right now in the middle of July.
It’s better to be lucky than good
When these Veronica bloom, they are lit up by the emerging bright green grass (Pennisetum) in the background. I would love to say that I planned it this way but it was truly dumb luck.
What do you think?
The combination of Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ and Obedient Plant is an example of another not-planned-combo that has recently emerged in the garden.
I have no clue if I like the mix or not. So I need your input in order to decide how to proceed. Thank you.
That’s halfway to 90 which means the odds are stacked against me now if I want to say that half of my life still remains.
I know, I despise age complaints as much as you do. There’s always someone who can one up you or has been there before.
“You think that’s bad, I’m 63 and I have consistent pain in my …”
“Try being 76 with …”
“You have no idea what getting old means you son of a …”
My son turns 15 in a few days.
15 is scarily close to 16 which is the age where he is eligible to obtain his driver’s permit.
That’s some insane shit.
We moved into our current home in 2004.
My youngest child is currently 11 and if my math serves me correctly, she should be graduating from college in 2028.
My wife and I have talked about moving to the southern U.S soon after she finishes her schooling (fingers crossed for no medical school or graduate school, not that I wouldn’t be supportive but holy $$$$$ Batman).
That means we’re beyond the halfway point of residing in our current abode.
That means I’m beyond the half way point of composing my masterpiece of a garden.
Numbers are so stressful.
Here is where I now surprise you.
While the fear of my mortality has me up at night and seeking spiritual awakening and I’m genuinely missing the younger versions of my offspring, I love my fucking garden to pieces.
Seriously, no self-deprecation to follow.
It kicks ass and it’s all because of me.
It isn’t perfect and there’s much work to still do in order to obtain world domination, but I look at it right now and feel total fulfillment. It makes me smile. It moves me. It holds countless memories. It makes me mutter “Hell yeah” and it provides me with the perfect muse.
And to bring it all on home, I witnessed my wife utter these exact words as we strolled back to and within view of our home after a short walk last evening:
“Thank you for such a beautiful home.”
“It looks so lush.”
“It’s so not cookie cutter.”
Grab me a kerchief.
The icing on the cake came courtesy of my daughter:
“I’ve never seen so many bees and butterflies in my life.”
It isn’t easy for me to speak so positively without a bit of snark but I’m going to do just that. The feeling may be fleeting and it may be due to the fact that I enjoyed some hemp oil with my coffee a few hours ago, but who cares. It’s here and now.
A few of my own observations from the weekend:
I finally understand the appeal of Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’) with its flag-like flowers that add a fantastic “see-through” effect.
The Allium ‘Mt. Sinai’ is thriving like never before and seems cool with a rather wet soil. It also goes without saying that the deer never touch it.
The fading of the Astilbe flowers doesn’t take away from this section of garden and I could argue why it looks even better while in decline.
The late afternoon sun completely lights up this part of the garden.
While Veronica ‘First Love’ doesn’t blow you away, its long blooming period (6-8 weeks) makes it incredibly useful.
It wasn’t planned and I’ll never understand why, but the droves of japanese beetles that arrive in my garden this time of year, tend to congregate on one shrub (Dappled Willow or Salix) and inflict their damage there only.
I can deal with allowing them to go to town for a while and then cutting back the chewed up branches weeks later. It has become the sacrificial lamb.
I would ask that they get a room though when things get frisky.
The following pics celebrate all those who frequent the flowers and bring the garden to life, from morning to evening, all summer long.
And just like that, the butterflies, the bees, the same lone hummingbird we see year after year and Japanese beetles have descended upon the garden in droves. For today’s purposes I’ll keep it pretty and spare you the ugly. I’m desperately trying to capture a pic of the hummer, but to date he’s been too ninja-like for me to catch him.
The ornamental grass shield continues to pay dividends as the hydrangeas have remained virtually untouched by the deer.
The Bee Balm is blooming and the Joe Pye Weed isn’t too far behind.
This is the lone Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra) flower that has eluded the deer and I still long for masses of these flowers on display at the same time. I have to up my deer-repellent spraying game.
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) continues to multiply year after year as the flowers are now emerging throughout the garden.
I’ll take the 5-6 blooms of Daylily ‘Little Grapette’ but I’m still pissed that the deer have ravaged them like never before. My strategic placement plan has failed.
I’ve had Yarrow (Achillea) ‘Moonwalker’ for 7-8 years now and they look better this year than they ever have before. The relocation plan to drier soil has paid dividends. Why it took this long I’ll never know.
Enjoy these coneflowers now before I bitch about their destruction from the deer in an upcoming post.
I’ve finally succumbed to using annuals to fill in empty spots in the garden. But I’ll still show my disrespect by not having a clue as to the name of this plant below. I have to keep some street cred.
The original intention was to highlight the Hyssop and Mountain Mint in the two photos that follow below. Take note however, that the grasses (Panicum and Little Bluestem respectively) are in greater focus and that’s all you need to know about my affinity for the almighty OG.
I’m a ten year old girl at heart so why not embrace it and add a fun little extra to the Indian Grass (Sorghastrum) below.
While slow to establish over the years, Panicum ‘Ruby Ribbons’ still has tremendous color that can’t be ignored.
Pennisetum ‘Burgundy Bunny’ … drops mic.
Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ is the perfect foil to Joe Pye Weed.
While I will forever shout to the rooftops about my disdain for Northern Sea Oats and its painful reseeding, I have nothing bad to say about its brethren ‘River Mist’. Great color in partial shade.
Are you tired of me posting photos of Panicum ‘Northwind’?
Well then let’s get creative and up the artistic slant on the previous photo.
Words will never do it justice.
Interest beyond flowers
Baptisia seed heads post-bloom still lend an ornamental quality to this killer perennial.
Allow me to introduce you
Two recent additions:
And Oregano ‘Kent Beauty’
Where did you come from?
I have tried to grow Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) forever and eventually settled a few years ago on the fact that it wouldn’t thrive with my wet conditions.
Lesson learned: Trying is overrated.
While I have to take some measures to control the Rudbeckia that pop up all over the garden, I always make sure that some are left untouched.
Slowly but surely
New beds are starting to fill in and only time will tell if I’ll have the patience to not tinker and screw it all up.
Still work to do
A lot of spent flowers to remove on the Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis).
Same goes for all of the Veronica ‘Royal Candles’.