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Late Bloomers and Falling Leaves: GBBD, October 2019

October 18, 2019

fallen leaves 2019In the month since I posted last, my part of Maine has had at least three mornings of below freezing temperatures and light frost. Cold-sensitive plants like morning glories, basil, and coleus have shriveled up and turned black. Garden paths are carpeted with fallen leaves from deciduous trees, and many perennial plants are also showing their progression into winter dormancy with brightly colored foliage.

fall foliage 2019

But just as early-blooming crocuses and daffodils are unfazed by spring snows, there are late bloomers in the garden who shrug off fall frosts. This is especially true of the asters and their relatives in the extended Asteraceae family. So, even as we move inexorably toward winter, I am still enjoying garden flowers.

In the entry garden, smooth blue aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) ‘Bluebird’ is blooming in the Blues Border, Bluebird with bees
alma potschke 2019
and the New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) cultivar ‘Alma Potschke’ is flowering near the front porch.

On the Front Slope, seed-grown New England asters are blooming in various shades of pink, lavender and violet.

lavender seed-grown aster violet seed-grown aster

Some of the flowers blooming in the October garden have been blooming for many weeks.

Coreopsis lanceolata began flowering in late June, coreopsis lanceolata october
Herbstsonne october 2019 and Rudbeckia x ‘Herbstsonne’ in early August.

vernonia lettermanniiIn contrast, Vernonia lettermannii ‘Iron Butterfly’ has just begun to bloom. Along the side of the driveway, the fringy yellow flowers of our native witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) are also beginning to open.witch hazel flowers

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is a monthly virtual gathering of garden bloggers hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of each month (although some of us habitually show up late). Visit her blog to see her own and others’ October blooms.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2019 11:50 pm

    We had a light frost here, so pretty much everything is still alive.

    • October 22, 2019 10:01 pm

      Things are quickly winding down here; even the asters are starting to fade into seedheads.

  2. October 19, 2019 9:25 am

    Jean, I have always followed your blog with interest, but now that I am a Northerner again, I will be a more avid reader. It will be 65 and sunny in my Michigan garden today but my asters are already spent. I did buy my first Amaryllis in years and look forward to your annual winter gardening blogs for inspiration as I try my hand at indoor plants after a 21 year hiatus.

    • October 22, 2019 10:04 pm

      Kathy, Amaryllis is the perfect eye candy for getting through your first northern winter in many years. Mine always bloom best the first year, but I get enough success in subsequent years to keep them going. Right now, they are all in boxes in the basement, getting in their two months of enforced dormancy before I take them out and try to coax them into bloom. Meanwhile, just as the outdoor garden is winding down, there are big fat buds forming on the Thanksgiving cactus.

  3. marra1026 permalink
    October 19, 2019 10:47 am

    Lovely pictures, Jean. Thank You again for speaking to the Topsham Garden Club. Everyone commented on the timely topic and was most impressed by your presentation of the information. You are an excellent speaker!

    Enjoy the sunshine today!

    Vicky Marr

    • October 22, 2019 10:05 pm

      Hi Vicky, I’m glad the talk was a success. I appreciated the level of interest, the thoughtful questions, and the contributions of information from members of the audience.

  4. October 19, 2019 2:42 pm

    I hope the colorful foliage makes up somewhat for the loss of your tender plants, Jean. Your asters are impressive! Mine looked like they’d been incinerated by a blow torch after a span of hot weather and I cut them all back to the ground.

    • October 22, 2019 10:07 pm

      Kris, I learned when I took divisions from some of my favorite Maine plants to southern PA for my Gettysburg garden that many cold-hardy plants that do well here (and asters are the hardiest of the cold-hardy plants!) are not very heat tolerant.

  5. October 23, 2019 4:08 pm

    I see your witch-hazel are also blooming. Nice selection of asters.

    • October 25, 2019 5:08 pm

      Jason, The witch hazel don’t seem to be blooming as prolifically this year as they normally do. Maybe something to do with weather conditions.

  6. October 25, 2019 1:43 am

    Oh, you have red maple! That happens to be one of the maples that does well in San Jose, and it works nicely as a street tree. They do not color as well here. I got one at work that was seed grown. However, it has more intricately lobed leaves, as if it is one of those fancier hybrids. I really do not care, since I am not trying to match a cultivar flanking an urban street. It is just a single tree that will likely get added in with a mix of others that are not maples. Our native big leave maple has a very different personality, sort of like a silver maple, with big leaves.

    • October 25, 2019 5:10 pm

      Hi Tony, Red maple (Acer rubrum) is actually the most common tree species in Maine — mostly because it is a generalist that will grow in almost any soil conditions. And, although they don’t produce the same abundance of sap as sugar maples, red maples can also be tapped to make maple syrup.

      • October 26, 2019 4:53 pm

        That sort of mad me laugh. It was a fad here, for a while, to grow vegetables out in the parkstrips (between the curbs and sidewalks. I know what neighborhood dogs did in my parkstrips when I lived in town. I would not want to eat any vegetables that grew within their reach. If I tapped a street tree, it would need to be a few feet up. No one collects sap here because the season is too brief. However, one of our two native maples happens to be the bigleaf maple, which is the sugaring maple of the Pacific Northwest. The other more abundant species is the box elder. I got enough sap from one of my maples to make a half pint of syrup, just because my colleagues told me I couldn’t.

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