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A Fall Welcome from My Maine Garden

October 6, 2013

autumn joy 2013This weekend, I’ve finally found some time to get reconnected with blogs – both my own and those of my virtual gardening community.

For the past 15 years, I’ve been managing to get home to Maine about once a month during the fall semester. My first trip back since I left for Gettysburg in August happened two weeks ago, just in time for the fall equinox.

I never know what I’m going to find in the garden at this time of year. Will sensitive plants have already been nipped by frost? Will the fall-blooming Hemerocallis still be in bloom? What about the summer phlox? Will the reblooming daylilies be in bloom again?  Will the delphiniums be enjoying a second flush of flowers?

matrona 2013I arrived too late at night to really see what was going on; but when I went out to the garden first thing in the morning, I found that frost had not yet visited and a number of plants were still blooming. The fall-blooming sedums were, of course doing well, both “’Autumn Joy’ (pictured above) and ‘Matrona’ (shown here). It was more of a surprise that two delphinium varieties had flowers – even if some of them were lying on the ground because no gardener had been around to stake them.

fall delphinium1 fall delphinium2

I was also happy to see the last few flowers of Phlox paniculata ‘David’ and ‘Blue Paradise.’ These were a special treat because the plants were repeatedly eaten by the resident woodchuck early in the summer and had not yet begun to bloom when I left in August. Other “last blooms” were found on Heliopsis helianthoides and on balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus).

last heliopsis last mariesii

morning glory seed podsI was surprised not to find any daylilies blooming, although there were still a few unopened buds on ‘Final Touch’ and ‘Autumn Minaret.’ I also did not find any morning glories blooming on the garden fence – but I could see the seed pods of flowers gone by on the vines. These provide an encouraging promise of morning glories to enjoy next year, when I will be living here full time.

The late-blooming Rudbeckia x ‘Herbstsonne,’ on the other hand, was still going strong. And so were the flowers of Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice,’ which have bloomed continuously all summer long.

fall herbstsonne 2013 fall heuchera

Elsewhere in the garden, I was delighted to see all the plants in the new raised bed looking happy and healthy and as though they had grown since I left. I think this bed may fill in nicely by next summer.

raised bed plants

fall astersHere and there around my property, patches of pale lavender wild asters were blooming. Other signs of fall included the seed pods of Platycodon and Liatris and the first hints of fall color in the foliage of rhododendron.

fall seed pods rhododendron color

Fall is my favorite time in New England, and I’m looking forward to an upcoming October visit to my Maine garden. What I’m looking forward to far more, however, is the promise of all those New England falls to come as I retire from teaching and go back to living year-round in Maine.

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2013 1:23 pm

    Your Maine garden is certainly looking brighter than my NH one so I enjoyed your photos. Except for grasses and sedum I don’t have much color left. Have a wonderful fall semester.

    • October 12, 2013 9:58 pm

      Judy, It has been a mild fall in western Maine. I’m back here this weekend, and there are still quite a few flowers blooming in my garden. Even a couple of morning glories on the fence. Amazing!

  2. October 6, 2013 1:59 pm

    I like fall and spring best. I find it interesting that you have to leave one garden for the other and I know some gardeners would find that very stressful, not being in control all the time but I suppose if you have the right approach it is quite interesting.

    • October 12, 2013 10:01 pm

      Helen, This is my last year leaving my Maine garden in fall only to return in late spring; I’ll be retiring in May and returning to the greater sanity of a one-garden life. It will be wonderful to get to enjoy my Maine garden in fall. Spring isn’t much of a season in Maine, though; it comes late and is very fleeting, and I’ll miss the much more glorious spring of Pennsylvania.

  3. October 6, 2013 5:32 pm

    Your Maine garden is looking quite lovely right now. I can hear the excitement building as the time for your big move to Maine draws closer and closer. It will be such a treat to see your garden all year round.

    • October 12, 2013 10:04 pm

      Bernie, You are right about the excitement. I am counting months until my big move, and soon I will be counting weeks. The morning glories in my Pennsylvania garden have been putting on their most spectacular display ever for the past couple of weeks — a wonderful parting gift.

  4. October 6, 2013 7:10 pm

    Everything still looks so pretty in you garden in the Fall. Must be so beautiful in Maine with all the leaves turning. Can’t wait for a cruise tour from New York to Quebec next October to see all the beautiful areas and colors.

    • October 12, 2013 10:06 pm

      Vickie, October is a wonderful time to visit this region; your cruise plans sound exciting.

  5. October 6, 2013 8:58 pm

    What wonderful surprises! Do you know what the nighttime temperatures have been? My Heucheras have no flowers and my Phlox finished a few weeks back. We went down to 36F a few nights ago and Fall is definitely in the air. Enjoy your visit!

    • October 12, 2013 10:07 pm

      Emily, As far as I can tell from the weather records, the lowest temperatures have been about 39F. I’m back here this weekend, and I’m amazed by how many flowers are still in bloom — including that delightful Heuchera.

  6. October 6, 2013 11:22 pm

    Beautiful Delphiniums. I’m always tempted to plant them but then resist because they have a reputation for being so fussy.

    • October 12, 2013 10:09 pm

      Jason, The delphinium reputation for fussiness is well deserved. Some years, they don’t do well and I wonder why I bother. But then they bloom, and I fall in love with them all over again.

  7. October 7, 2013 2:02 am

    Fall in New England is on my bucket list 🙂
    How exciting it must have been to return and get that first glimpse of what was flowering in the garden. The delphinium looks lovely, alas they don’t seem to survive in my garden, I guess it must be the climate.
    It’s been a bad year here for Day Lily, plants that are usually smothered in blooms have been producing 3 or 4 and that’s it – very disappointing!

    • October 12, 2013 10:17 pm

      Linda, I’m actually surprised that delphiniums don’t do well in your climate; I think of them as cool-loving plants. Every year, I have some daylilies that don’t bloom well. Sometimes it’s because they have gotten overshadowed (literally) by other plants and are not getting enough light. Other times, I have no idea what the problem is. Fortunately, I grow dozens of different cultivars and the same year some are stingy with blooms, others will bloom profusely.

  8. October 7, 2013 7:27 am

    What lovely surprises! Love them all.

    • October 12, 2013 10:17 pm

      My sentiments exactly. Any flowers in Maine after mid-September are a gift!

  9. October 7, 2013 8:50 am

    What a lovely surprise to be greeted with so many cheerful blooms in your Maine garden. The weather has been amazingly mild for Fall. I guess it makes up for the late Spring.

    • October 12, 2013 10:19 pm

      Rachel, I’m back in Maine for the long holiday weekend, and I can’t believe we haven’t had frost yet. I still have a number of flowers blooming in the garden; I hope to get out tomorrow and take some photos of them before they disappear (as they are bound to eventually!). I hope you are still getting lots of veggies to enjoy.

  10. October 7, 2013 6:10 pm

    Garden life will be quite different when you can follow your plants thru all four seasons

    • October 12, 2013 10:20 pm

      Diana, It will be different, and I’m looking forward to it. I am already thinking about adding more spring and fall-blooming plants.

  11. October 7, 2013 9:40 pm

    Jean your fall in Maine is beautiful…your garden blooms and waits just for your visits..soon you will be together all year.

    • October 12, 2013 10:21 pm

      Donna, Sometimes I think my garden does better in my absence — a humbling realization. 🙂

  12. October 8, 2013 4:16 am

    Lovely – I share your longing for next year’s changes – I’ve reached a stage where the simplifying of life has become a deep longing. But also – Sequoia is looking lovely and the first roses are blooming…

    • October 12, 2013 10:23 pm

      Jack, I need to get over to your blog and see your roses. I’m looking forward to all your blooms to keep me going during our winter. I don’t know how much simpler my life will be after this year, but it will certainly be less peripatetic! BTW, a belated happy birthday.

  13. October 9, 2013 8:11 pm

    For an unattended garden, I’d say you did well! I long ago gave up on trying to grow Delphiniums in SoCal but I’m glad to have the opportunity to admire yours – they’re beautiful, even flopped on their sides.

    • October 12, 2013 10:25 pm

      Kris, I think delphiniums really need a good winter chill to keep them happy. I know of people in warm climates who grow them from seed as annuals; but I think it makes more sense to really enjoy all the wonderful plants that are happy growing in your climate.

  14. October 13, 2013 8:51 pm

    I am hoping to see some Fall photos of Maine or Pennsylvania’s sugar maples on your next post. Fall is the best time in the natural landscape or garden for us in zones 4-6. As long as we forget what comes after it.

  15. October 14, 2013 12:54 am

    We seem to have the same lifestyle, that is going to my garden at least once-a-month. YOur case is different because your seasons are short and change fast affecting all plants. In my case, being an absentee gardener has a lot of advantages, as i cannot give the salvaging strategies if something threatens to die, or if something needs to be repaired.

    Anyway, that’s life is for us, i learned to be contented with this arrangement. At least yours are beautifully showing up.

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