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Fall’s Final Flowers: GBBD, October 2017

October 16, 2017

hydrangea1By mid-October, my Maine garden is going into dormancy. Leaves are withering, flowers are going to seed, and maple leaves are falling into the flower beds.

But, despite several nights below freezing, my garden has still not been hit by frost; and a closer look reveals a surprising number of blooms scattered throughout the garden (like these mauve blossoms on Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky’).

Along the Lavender Walk  and the front of the Fragrant Garden, lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) is still blooming. lavender hidcote october
herbstsonne fall flower In the Blue and Yellow Border, the last flowers of Rudbeckia x ‘Herbstsonne’ are struggling to open. (I have stopped deadheading these so that they can make seeds for the birds.)
Most of the asters have finished blooming, but there are still a flew tattered flowers on smooth aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) ‘Bluebird’ aster bluebird flowers

Some flowers are meant to bloom in the autumn, like this sedum ‘Autumn Joy,’ which has achieved the deep wine color that comes just before its flower heads turn to seed heads, and the fringy flowers of witch hazel (Hammamelis virginiana), which have just begun to open.

autumn joy wine hamamelis flower

Other flowers have been confused by our weirdly warm weather in September and early October. There are a few flowers on spring-blooming bluets (Houstonia caerulea) and sweet white violets (Viola blanda); one hosta is also blooming out of season.

Many of my flower beds have finished blooming for this year. Others have one or two plants still finishing up. But my biggest source of October blooms is the Side Slope planting (completed last year). neon flash flowersThe beautiful Spirea x bumalda ‘Neon Flash’ has surprised me by putting out a whole new flush of flowers. (It will be interesting to see if it does this every year, or if this is a response to this year’s fall warmth.) Although the three species of Liatris that bloomed in succession from late July through the end of September are done for this year, there are still flowers – and even a few new buds – on Platycodon grandiflorus. Even more impressive are the flowers of Geranium x oxonianum, and Tradescantia virginiana, which have been blooming continuously here since mid-June.

Side Slope October

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see what other gardeners (especially those in milder climates) have blooming in October.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2017 5:30 pm

    I hope you find a few more floral surprises before your season comes to a close, Jean. I wish I could send you some of our “leftover” summer heat to extend your season a bit (without the nasty winds and fire risk). Summer’s been unwilling to let go here but at least the nights are generally cooler. There are no frost worries here! Spirea is a plant I’ve long admired. It’s sold here but, regrettably, wants too much water.

    • October 25, 2017 7:19 pm

      Kris, Thanks for the offer, but we are already having the hottest October on record — although admittedly not as hot as yours. It’s very strange to get to the end of October without my garden being visited by frost. We are having several days of rain (albeit warm, tropical air rather than the cold rain that we normally get at this time of year); but it may be signalling a shift to more seasonable temperatures, which I would welcome.

  2. Joanna @ Gingham Gardens permalink
    October 16, 2017 6:04 pm

    Jean, it’s amazing what you can find through the lens of a camera. You still have some beautiful blooms. Happy fall.

    • October 25, 2017 7:20 pm

      Joanna, It’s always a treat when focusing in close on something with my camera allows me to see things I never noticed before.

  3. October 17, 2017 8:22 pm

    I bet you don’t mind putting off that first frost for a few extra weeks! Gives it a little time to sink in that winter is on its way back.
    Enjoy fall!

    • October 25, 2017 7:22 pm

      Bittster, It is a treat to have flowers blooming longer, but there is also a downside to the delayed frost — like still having to worry about tick bites at the end of October.

  4. October 28, 2017 5:07 pm

    Hello Jean, I think you’ve overtaken us now, we’re still warding off the first frosts and it’s only recently that the nights have dropped to single figures. We are coming into November now but we still have Verbena Bonariensis, roses and Gaura flowering. I keep looking for signs of spring bulbs but haven’t seen any yet. Leaves are gradually turning but the garden is still predominantly green.

    • October 28, 2017 8:47 pm

      Sunil, Amazingly, I have not yet had a frost in my garden either, although several nights’ temperatures have fallen below freezing. I still have a few flowers blooming, and much-needed rain this week coaxed a few flowers to open on phlox. Nevertheless, most of the leaves have fallen from the trees and cold, stormy weather won’t be far behind. Today, I stored away the patio and deck furniture ahead of gale force winds expected tomorrow night. This will be a rain storm, but in a few weeks it will be snow.

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