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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volunteer oxonianumThe exuberant floral displays of summer have been replaced by a much sparser flowering in which each individual flower is a star.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.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2022 4:07 pm

    Autumn already?! Well, we got our first rain storm of the season yesterday, so, for the moment, it feels a bit more like autumn here as well. It will not last though. It will be about 90 degrees later in the week. When I went to Oklahoma at the end of 2012, I thought that I would finally get to experience real autumn and winter weather. However, the weather was remarkably mild while we were there, and did not get very cold until immediately after we left. Colorful autumns and cold winters sound so compelling.

    • September 24, 2022 3:06 pm

      Tony, Autumn comes early here. Here is how the months line up with our seasons: Autumn (September, October, November), Winter (December, January, February, March), Spring (April, May), Summer (June, July August).

      • September 24, 2022 5:39 pm

        Oh goodness; that is very different from ours, which is Summer from January through December, and a few days that are not summer between late December and early January. Sometimes, water mysteriously falls from the sky, or the weather gets cool. It can be boring, and limits our ability to grow apples, pears, peonies and other plants that require more chill.

        • September 25, 2022 2:29 pm

          LOL, This reminds me of the comic Jeff Foxworthy’s description of northern New England seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, road construction. 😉

        • September 25, 2022 2:58 pm

          Yes, but just the opposite. I happen to like it because it is what I am accustomed to, although it would be nice to be able to grow peonies like I see in Oregon. People from other climates dislike the need for such regular irrigation here. They expect weather to supply more moisture. Some do not understand fire season.

  2. September 19, 2022 6:25 pm

    Given how your winter hangs on, I can appreciate that this seasonal transition is indeed bittersweet but you still have much to celebrate in your September garden, Jean. In my own garden, with a few notable exceptions, my daylilies were no-shows, although I’m harboring hope those said to be rebloomers will grace me with a visit this fall. There are actually quite a lot of plants that failed to bloom this year even though they produced foliage. I’m hoping that’s an anomaly rather than yet another indication of the effects of climate change.

    • September 24, 2022 3:09 pm

      Kris, I always have a few daylilies that fail to bloom. In my case, I think the lack of flowers is an indication that they are not getting enough sun, either because the tree canopy has expanded or because they are overshadowed by taller plants. This year, I finally moved one daylily that almost never blooms out into a more open spot.

  3. September 20, 2022 4:58 am

    Hello Jean, it’s amazing how our weather conditions co-incide at certain times of year (generally around the equinoxes) meaning you could take what you’ve written and it would apply here, exactly. Cold nights, warm days, low, September sun. Flowering mostly finished with a few things still going here and there. Even our sedums and geraniums are looking the same.

    • September 24, 2022 3:12 pm

      Sunil, Very interesting observation! I wonder if this is the one time of year when both our light levels and temperatures are similar? From here, you will have less light in your garden than I have in mine, but I will have colder temperatures. When our hours of sunlight are about the same again, in March, you will have lots of things putting on new growth, while my garden will still be buried under snow.

  4. Pat Leuchtman permalink
    September 20, 2022 9:10 am

    There aren’t many flowers in our area. It’s been very hot, and with very little water with rules that we cannot take water out of the pipes. Oh, well. There is always next year.

    • September 24, 2022 3:15 pm

      Pat, We have gotten quite a bit of rain in the past few weeks, with the result that we are now “abnormally dry” but no longer in drought. On Gardener’s World, Monty Don, also suffering from drought in the UK, has been watering containers and some plants with gray water saved from washing dishes and bathing.

  5. September 22, 2022 2:20 pm

    Your zig zag is similar to our Euryops virgineus. Tiny flowers with a big effect!

    • September 24, 2022 3:17 pm

      Diana, All our goldenrods have masses of small aster-like flowers, but these are particularly tiny. They do make a big colorful splash at this time of year.

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