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Late Summer and Early Fall Bloomers
September 21, 2009

Welcome everyone.

Summer ends with one more beautiful week of weather.

Yes, Autumn officially starts September 22nd, but it looks like late summer may linger for another week or so.

In all my years of gardening, I have never dealt with late blight on my tomatoes.

I was caught totally off guard and my tomatoes suffered.

Late blight hits hard and fast and cost me 2/3 of my tomato crop

That includes my green tomatoes I enjoy later on.

Live and learn.

The plants and stuff are now resting in the county landfill.

Peppers, cukes and a few ot her veggies still continue to provide for the table.

Flowers are looking wonderful and because September has been so dry, I'm out there watering on a regular basis.

Yes, I like to keep things going and growing as long as I can.

In my younger days (recently as a few years ago), I would dread fall.

I actually looked forward to spring about the first of September.

Yes, summer was over and what good was fall, except the a precursor to winter.

But my out look has changed.

Spring is still my favorite time, but I have grown and learned that every season, indeed everyday offers us something special.

We spent one more day at the beach of Lake Michigan and in the water.

I can't explain it, but it is a magical place for me.

Monarch butterflies are in full migration here in southwest Michigan and the lake shores are one place they seem to congregate.

Lake breezes and air currants are favorable for the only true migrating butterfly.

It is common to see dozens of them at a time floating around the shores and waters edge.

During my evening walks with the fur kids, I notice Red-winged blackbirds flocking to the cat tail swamps by the hundreds every evening now, and the numbers grow as they prepare for migration.

Canada geese are forming larger flocks as they fly around to strengthen wing muscles and practice flight formations.

Robins have reappeared as well.

Turkey vultures circle above as they slowly meander southward.

Hummingbirds are still busy as they continue to gorge for the trip south.

Many flowers are in their prime this time of year.


Before I get to this week's topic, I must ask, almost beg for your fall favorites.

Currently I have two favorites saved.

Now I know we all can get busy, but this is your letter guys.

Your time to shine.

Those things that you really enjoy and maybe look forward to.

Fall colors, road trips, certain smells, crisp air.

New readers, old readers.

Lets have a fun time with it.

Forward you favorites along with your:

First Name (last name is omitted for obvious reasons).

City or region you live in.

State or province.

Okay, onto late bloomers and colors in the gardens.


As I was walking my yard one day this past week as I always do, I was thinking on what to write about for this week.

Why not garden and flower colors for late summer and early Autumn.

In this hurried world we seem to live in, all to often people are in a rush to close off summer.

Labor Day Weekend seems to be a magical point for many, especially here in the northern parts.

Swimming pools get closed up for the year, no matter the weather conditions.

Some people give up on vegetable gardens.

Many ignore their flower gardens and beds as well.

However, this time of year can be spectacular for blooms and other colors.

Pollinators appreciate the effort I put forth and and the several toads find a moist safe haven too.

Not to mention the thick cover the plants provide my birds.

With some proper care (water, feeding, grooming, dead heading and pruning), your gardens can continue well into fall or at least to the first killing frost or two.

You can extend that as well with some well placed protection.

Planning for next year's gardens should begin sometime this fall if you haven't started to plan already.

Record your successes and failures.

Write down what you would like to try next year.

Make note on what you have seen in other gardens that you may want to copy to some degree.

Incorporate perennials with annuals, native grasses, native shrubs that offer berries.

I'm a realist as well.

I understand, that unless you go completely native, there is a need for some introduced plants in your gardens.

My yard has a few perennials that originate from across the oceans.

Mums, anemones, scabosia, peonies, roses and a few others, but the bulk of my perennials are indeed native.

Most annuals that we buy are introduced species as well, but serve a purpose.

Not just to please our need for color, but they also offer plenty to our pollinators an some like cosmos offer seed for certain birds like American goldfinches.

This time of year, bees are very busy.

Butterflies need food, especially monarchs as they migrate south.

Hummingbirds are always looking for a meal, and right now many flowers in my yard help to feed them.

If I could pick only one flower to feed hummers with, it would be the red salvias.

Perennial natives to Brazil, red salvia grows as an annual for most of us.

Yet, it continues to grow and bloom from the day it leaves the garden center to killing frosts.

This time of year, salvia is at its best as long as you have cared for it all season.

I still have hummers for a few more days, and they are feeding more in the flowers than the feeders right now.

Red salvia is every where in my yard.

It also lines the Barrier free ramp in the front as well as other locations in my yard.

They also enjoy the Black and Blue salvia as well.

Blue salvia is a bumble bee favorite, as you can tell by one of the above photos.

Native tall phlox dot my yard in various colors and these too offer food for hummers, butterflies and bees.

Native asters and Agastache (hyssop's) offer food for nectar feeders as well.

I allow Liatris, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, and others to go to seed. After they have feed pollinators, they now feed many species of seed eating birds.

Leave sunflowers stalks up and birds find the seed heads.

I can live with some dead looking vegetation for a time, can't you?

Native grasses, like Panicums offer wonderful color, texture.

They also offer protection and food for wildlife.

For your eyes....................

Marigolds look wonderful right now.

Maybe give it some thought for next year to start a fall crop of these colorful annuals from Mexico.

Plant some seeds in mid summer so you have a fresh batch for pots and beds, if yours get to scraggly.

Again, proper care for your annuals and they should look good all season.

Work on color combinations that work for you.

A rust/orange color mum with a blue scabosia (pictured above) makes for a striking contrast, don't you think?

And scaboaia will bloom all season if you allow it to do so.

Perennial Helianthus and Heliopsis can grow tall and look wonderful against a house, with shrubs or grasses.

The vivid yellow is a beautiful contrast with the tall growing Black and Blue salvias (Z-7)

In my yard, I still have Monarda in bloom.


Every year, when the plants get about a foot tall, I cut the front half back one half to two thirds.

When the original growth is done blooming, the shorter, bushier front portion begins to bloom.

This offers me, hummingbirds and other wildlife an extended attraction (notice the bumble bee).

Keeping tall phlox groomed, allows for several smaller side shoots to continue the flower parade as well.

Where most perennials have a set blooming season.

Some will continue to flower if you allow and encourage them to do so.

Where most perennials have a set blooming season, some will continue to flower if you allow and encourage them to do so.

For a certain time frame, I deadhead Coreopsis, Coneflowers, Rudbeckias and Gallardia.

This allows these perennials to continue blooming.

More flowers, more eye appeal and more pollinators.

Eventually leaving seed heads and stalks for the birds to feast on.

Agastache (right), nepeta and other plants will give you a second and third bloom if you care for them.

An established hibiscus can bloom for a good 2 months or more.

I have a couple that are still looking mighty fine and will continue for a while to come.

If you don't mind digging up bulbs every fall, canna and dahlia offer a rainbow of flower color and canna offers some cultivars with attractive, colorful foliage.

Native bushes offer colorful fruits, foliage and sometimes bark.

Berries may be white, red, blue to black.

Fall foliage like 'Viburnum trilobum' (highbush cranberry) offers a bright scarlet color foliage for fall and the fruits last may well into winter.

Dogwood species can offer red or yellow colored bark, adding to to beauty of your yard and gardens.

Don't give up now.

Don't stop gardening because the calendar says it is Autumn.

For me, the cooler days make for the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the fruits of your labor and the beauty that God has given us.

Garden days are numbered for many of us this time of year.

Slow down.

Life is to short as it is.

Enjoy the moments you have.

You will know when it is time to put your gardens to bed.

It may be a bit at a time, but not now.

There is so much beauty to enjoy right now, for most of us.

Yes, I understand that things are different in the Great White North.

Some have already had killing frosts.

But you too, can plan ahead.

Mums, hardy asters and even anemones like the September Charm pictured here in my yard is still blooming and will for you as well.

A side Bar:

All the pictures shown were taken in my yard this past weekend.

I wish I could brag, I mean show them all, but pictures take up a lot of space and time.

My yard is far from perfect.

I have my share of failures and issues.

Frustrating as that can be, learning is an on going process.

I enjoy my little corner of the world and the wildlife it attracts, often yearning for more.

I hope you enjoyed the brief slide show, new cameras can be a dangerous thing to have.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

And Don't Forget Your Autumn Favorites.

Rejection is a part of life. If we don't get rejected then we're not trying hard enough.

Kathy Ireland (former model, author and mom)

Do you notice the trend?

Do you notice how many of the quotes I share with you deal with failure or rejection?

Why is that?

These people get it.

They understand that trials and errors help to mold the individual if you allow them to.

All through history, some understood the importance of rejection and failure.

Even a successful former model like Kathy Ireland understands the importance of being rejected.

If we sit at home,

We never try,

We never get rejected

We never fail

We never learn

You never win.

What is fun about playing it safe?

So you get rejected at the job interview.

A prospective date turns you down.

Your proposal for (you name it) was rejected.

Kind of hurts for a spell, doesn't it?

But, you pick yourself up.

Now, do you hide in a corner or move forward?

You may have asked a few question.

You learn and make some improvements and adjustments.

You find a better job, because you learned from the rejection or failure.

You may find a better person or, because you were turned down, you turned yourself into someone even more special.

You find out why your proposal was rejected.

You learn, prepare and become better at proposing.

Now, you have learned a few things along the rejection path.

You find out you can.

You find out you have character.

You find out that failing and rejection doesn't hurt that much.

Your turn.

Play it safe and never skin your knee.................

Or risk a few scrapes and bruises, while you make mistakes and a few poor choices.

The important thing................................

You try and learn from rejection.

Make rejection an ally, not an enemy.

Fear of failure and fear of rejection are very dangerous thoughts and emotions.

These are not thoughts from our 'Creator.'

God expects us to fail..............

He also wants us to ask for his help and for us to learn.

They can paralyze people into accepting much less for themselves and out of life.

This is the only life you get on earth, make the most of it.

Start today with a smile of confidence.

Share your smiles and knowledge with others.

You may make a new and special friend.

Friends and smiles are good.

Until next time my friend.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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