Skip to content

Seasonal Switch: GBBD, November 2022

November 18, 2022

In the past week, it seemed as though someone flipped a switch to bring on a change of seasons. We went virtually overnight from weirdly warm temperatures for November to wintry weather –  daytime highs in the thirties (Fahrenheit), overnight lows about twenty, and our first snowfall of the season. All of this brought the outdoor garden season to a definitive end.

1st cactus flower 2022Just in time to keep me from being flower-deprived, however, flowering houseplants began to bloom. In the living room plant window, the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera) has opened its first flower, with many more to follow soon. red cactus bud 2022Another cactus, with red flowers, is about to begin blooming in my bedroom. (I did not notice how dusty this plant was until after I photographed it. It has since been given a much-needed shower.)

cyclamen buds 2022 As the cacti put on their seasonal display, the potted Cyclamen persica are preparing to follow them into flower, with promises of more blooms to see me through the winter months.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is a monthly celebration of flowers hosted by Carol Michel at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to find links to other gardeners’ November blooms.

A Few Last Flowers: GBBD, October 2022

October 17, 2022

red maple color 10-22By mid-October, my Maine garden has experienced several frosts and freezes and most plants are well on their way into winter dormancy. Color in the garden is more likely to be found in the leaves of deciduous plants that have stopped photosynthesizing than in flowers.

Nevertheless, there are still flowers in bloom. I am amazed to see that I still have a few unopened buds on daylilies (Hemerocallis). These include the tall cultivar ‘Autumn Minaret’, which put on an exceptional display this year, with flowers opening every day from late July until mid-October.

Spiraea x bumalda ‘Neon Flash’ has also been blooming for months. Here and there, a few last flowers appear on Phlox paniculata, on false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) and on lavender plants. Neon flash 10-22
last rose 10-22 There is even one last rose (Rosa ‘Cinderella’) blooming in the fragrant garden outside my bedroom window – although it is now too cold to enjoy its fragrance through open windows.

bluebird survivors 2022Although I do not have any New England asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) blooming in the garden this year because they all succumbed to the attentions of the local woodchuck (aka groundhog), this smooth blue aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) ‘Bluebird’ has a few flowers that somehow managed to survive that animal’s voracious appetite.

Some of the flowers still blooming are in protected microclimates in the garden. Others are members of especially hardy late-season species. The latter include the tall Rudbeckia cultivar ‘Herbstsonne’ (‘Autumn Sun’) and ironwood (Vernonia lettermanii) ‘Iron Butterfly.’

Herbstsonne 10-22 iron butterfly 10-22

witch hazel 10-22This is also the time of year when our native witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) blooms, and its fringy yellow flowers shine particularly strongly as the trees lose their leaves.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted each month by Carol Michel at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her site for links to October blooms from other gardens.

Bittersweet Season: GBBD, September 2022

September 19, 2022

September garden 2022I’m even later than usual with my bloom day report this month. In Maine, fall is in the air, and my garden is beginning its transition to winter dormancy. Here and there, plants are showing hints of autumn foliage colors.

hints of fall - rhododendron hints of fall - geranium

volunteer oxonianumThe exuberant floral displays of summer have been replaced by a much sparser flowering in which each individual flower is a star. Even Geranium x oxonianum, a garden stalwart which has been blooming continuously since late May, has only a few flowers left.

Daylilies (Hemerocallis), too, are mostly done, although a few late bloomers still grace me with their presence. These include ‘Autumn Minaret,’ which has been blooming since late July and is still going strong, the very late variety ‘Richard,’ the re-blooming ‘Rosy Returns,’ which has many as-yet unopened buds, and ‘Whir of Lace,’ which struggled to open its last flower on a very cool morning.

late daylilies 2022

Other summer flowers still blooming in September include spirea, balloon flowers, heliopsis, and a few last coreopsis.

still blooming September

Asters are normally the stars of the September garden, and along the roadsides, New England asters are blooming in colorful splashes of purple and pink. Alas, not a single New England aster can be found blooming in my garden; they were “pruned” so determinedly and repeatedly by woodchucks earlier in the summer that they have given up trying to flower. Fortunately, I do have other, more understated asters in bloom, including big-leaf aster (Eurybia macrophylla) and flax-leaved aster (Ionactis linarifolia.)

big leaf aster 2022 flax-leaved aster 2022

zig-zag goldenrod flowersGoldenrods are another member of the greater aster family that reach peak bloom in September. I have about six different species of goldenrod blooming. Most are volunteers that were growing here before I created a garden. They are found most often on the wild edges of the garden, although they occasionally seed themselves into flower beds. I am happy to have them all, but the one that I have deliberately introduced is zig-zag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis), which is now blooming in the new woodland border with a profusion of tiny aster-like flowers.

Vernonia letermanii 2022Ironweed (Vernonia) is a relative and frequent companion of the asters. V. lettermanii ‘Iron Butterfly’ is often the last plant to begin blooming in my garden and has just opened its first flowers on the front slope.

Sedums also herald the arrival of fall. Two currently blooming in my garden are ‘Matrona’ and ‘Neon’

sedum matrona 2022 sedum neon 2022

Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) is normally the glory of the August garden. This year, however, the phloxes also suffered from the attention of the woodchucks. Two varieties have nevertheless managed to bloom in September.

phlox Robert Poore 2022 phlox david september 2022

Herbstsonne September 2022One of my favorite flowers in the September garden is the aptly named Rudbeckia cultivar ‘Autumn Sun’ (‘Herbstsonne’ in German). This statuesque plant has bright yellow flowers that light up the back of the border from late July until frost.

There are still many beautiful flowers blooming in September, and I take extra time to enjoy each one during my morning walks through the garden. The joy these flowers bring me is bittersweet, however, because I know that the garden season is waning and that blooms will all too soon be replaced by frost and winter snow.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is a celebration of flowers hosted each month by Carol Michel at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her website to see what other gardeners have blooming this September.

After the Peak: GBBD, August 2022

August 16, 2022

As quickly as my daylilies burst into bloom when June turned into July, their blooms declined as July turned into August. A month ago, I had dozens of daylily varieties in bloom, with more opening their first flowers each day. In mid-August, only a handful of varieties are still blooming, and each day one or more open their last flowers. The late-blooming varieties still gracing my morning walks through the garden include the orange ‘Invictus’ and ‘Olallie Star,’ the purple flowers of ‘Ripe Grapes’ and ‘Beau Chapeau,’ the pale yellow of ‘Whir of Lace,’ and the lovely flowers of ‘Autumn Minaret’ which float far above the foliage on slender stems. August daylilies 2022

phlox david 2022Normally, the stars of the August garden would be the tall garden phlox (Phlox paniculata). This year, however, these plants were eaten repeatedly by woodchucks. Some phlox plants gave up altogether, and others have only a few flowers on short stems. Thank goodness the woodchucks somehow missed the clump of Phlox paniculata ‘David’ growing against the back fence.

front slope august 2022There are still plenty of flowers in the August garden, however. On the front slope, abundant blooms of false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) mix with a few daylilies and two species of beebalm.

Monarda fistulosa 2022 Monarda punctata 2022

It is not just the bees who love beebalm. In addition to a variety of bees and wasps, I have also seen their flowers being visited by at least three species of butterflies, a hummingbird, and hummingbird hawkmoths.

Liatris spicata 2022 blue platycodon 2022

Herbstsonne 2022Elsewhere in the garden, I am enjoying blooms of Liatris spicata, balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus), and the tall rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ that dominates the back of the blue and yellow border in August.

Perhaps the most important blooms of my August garden, however, have been abundant monarch caterpillars – about two dozen a day visible feeding on plants of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).

monarch caterpillar1 2022 monarch caterpillars2 2022

monarch chrysalis 2022Currently, I am watching two chrysalides in the front garden (although I have no doubt that there are more that I haven’t spotted hidden in plain sight). And recently, I saw this newly emerged monarch butterfly, with its wings still visibly wet, fluttering around the rhododendron by the back door. I hope to see more of these in the days to come.

new monarch

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted each month by Carol Michel at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her website for links to August blooms in many other gardens.