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September’s Special Flowers: GBBD, September 2018

September 15, 2018

Liatris blooms SeptemberBy mid-September in Maine, fall is in the air and the garden is winding down. High summer’s riot of colorful blooms has been replaced by sparser flowering and plants with an overgrown, seedy look.

The stars of this late-season garden are the members of the family Asteraceae, all those late-blooming composite blooms with their characteristic combination of disc and ray flowers that are such an important food source for bees at this time of year.

The flowers for which this family is named, the asters, are just beginning to bloom in my garden. First up are the flowers of stiff flax-leafed aster (Ionactis linarifolia), a native wildflower volunteer that I have transplanted into the garden. Other species of aster will follow. Alas, these will not include the flowers of New England aster ‘Alma Potschke’, which have all been eaten by the resident woodchuck. first asters of fall

September solidagoThe asters have been preceded in bloom by their cousins, the goldenrods. I’m not sure which Solidago species, with golden inflorescences made up of tiny disc and ray flowers, is currently blooming along the dirt road at the front of my property. Much easier to identify is silverrod (Solidago bicolor), which seems to be flowering especially profusely this year.

silverrod 2018

Three different species of blazing stars (Liatris) provide a dramatic display in my side slope garden as they bloom in succession in late summer and early fall. Currently, the tall spikes of Liatris aspera are nearing the end of their bloom, while the flowers of Liatris novae-angliae have just begun.

Liatris aspera 2018 Liatris novae-angliae macro

Other members of  the Asteraceae family have been blooming in my garden for many weeks. These include purple coneflowers, rudbeckias,  and false sunflowers.

September composites

Not all my September blooms are part of this important botanical family. Sedums are also prominent at this time of year. ‘Matrona’ is blooming in the back garden, and ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Neon’ are blooming along the Lavender Walk in the front. Sedum matrona2018
autumn joy lavender walk Sedum neon 2018

There are many other flowers providing pleasure in the September garden.

balloon flowers september 2018 Balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflora) continue to bloom,
and morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’) have just begun to open on the garden fence. morning glory on fence

Here and there, flowers of Phlox paniculata have escaped the attention of the woodchucks.

September phlox bright eyes September phlox blue paradise September phlox david
pinky winky september The flowers of Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky’ are turning from white to red,
and an occasional rose bud opens. knock out rose bud

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is a celebration of flowers hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog for a taste of the wonderful variety of flowers blooming at this time of year in gardens around the world.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2018 1:14 pm

    What a rude woodchuck! Still, he seems to have left a lot of blooms for you to enjoy. I felt a pang in my heart when I saw that beautiful morning glory. Nothing matches that blue. Unfortunately, the plants can be invasive here, as I found out in my former garden; however, your photo has me wondering if maybe I could try it in a pot…

    • September 30, 2018 5:48 pm

      Kris, Fortunately, the woodchucks have individual tastes. They’ll glom on to a few plants and eat every leaf on them, while leaving nearby plants of a different genus alone. This year’s casualties were mostly asters, phlox, and echinacea. (They didn’t discover the echinacea until I planted some new ones with nice, young, tender leaves. Once they had tried those, they took a second look at the big planting they’d been ignoring along the Lavender Walk and said, “Hey, we like this stuff!”)

  2. September 16, 2018 8:51 pm

    It seems everyone posting for GBBD can grow coneflowers but me! I keep trying and trying.

    • September 30, 2018 5:50 pm

      Lisa, It’s always frustrating when you love some plant that just won’t grow in your conditions. I tried to grow achillea for years, and they never survived for a second year. Finally, I resigned myself to the fact that this just wasn’t a plant I could grow in my garden.

  3. September 17, 2018 3:47 am

    I have never heard of Silverrod before – very interesting!
    Have a wonderful week!

    • September 30, 2018 5:52 pm

      Lea, silverrod is the more subtle, least known cousin in the very large Solidago genus. I love the fact that it grows so prolifically on the edges of my garden.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    September 17, 2018 7:51 am

    Your blog is delightful! Great notes.

  5. September 18, 2018 12:03 am

    I guess these flower clusters are also favorite of butterflies, though i haven’t observed as i dont have asters. But they normally like those forming umbels. Have you observed them flying and nectaring by?

    • September 30, 2018 5:55 pm

      Andrea, I’ve seen butterflies nectaring on the Liatris and the Echinacea, but not so much on the asters. I planted lots of New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novi-angliae) this year, so I'll have a chance to observe if large masses of them blooming in fall attract butterflies.

  6. September 22, 2018 7:05 pm

    Heavenly blue is gorgeous!

    • September 30, 2018 5:58 pm

      Diana, It is, which is why I keep planting these annuals each year even though they barely bloom before the first frost (which, because they are tropical vines, kills them). This year, we’ve gotten to the end of September without frost, so I’ve had lots of time to enjoy them. The flowers, which only last a few hours in hot weather, also last longer in the cool fall temperatures.

  7. October 1, 2018 1:01 pm

    Special flowers indeed, I have to agree with Diana, the (Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’) certainly caught my eye.

    • October 1, 2018 9:47 pm

      Alistair, This is one of those blue flowers that are a deeper, intense blue on cold mornings, fading to sky blue as the temperature rises. As the flowers begin to fade, the star pattern in the center turns pink. They really are lovely.

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