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September 24, 2012
This has been one kind of roller coaster ride (weather wise) this past week.
Last Monday we were once again at the beach.
Karen did some wading, while I was fine tuning my body surfing technique On Lake Michigan.
Yes, the waves were fun.
By Wednesday morning, there was a nip of a light frost on the ground and rooftops.
Not cold enough or long enough to do any kind of damage, however.
Temperatures rebounded to the mid 60's and then dropped to the 50's for highs over the weekend and a low in the upper 30's for this morning.
We've had some rain, but much of it once again missed us.
Temperatures are promised to rebound some this week.
A few weeks ago, I made mention on Mallard ducks.
Some of you, as well as some of my neighbors have made comments on the lack of Male Mallard ducks.
I made comment on molting, and the Drakes would soon look like boys once again.
The picture was taken this past week, and you can see the ducks are well on their way.
In a couple of weeks, they will once again be in all of their plumage glory.
Migration is in full swing.
Several nights this past week I have listened to the bird calls as they fly over head.
I can't see them, but I sure can hear the various communication chirps throughout the night skies.
You may want to stick your head out some calm night and listen.
You may be blessed to hear the single note calls here and there as flocks head south.
Go ahead, give it a listen.
I spotted my first batch of Sand Hill Cranes on Saturday.
I lose track of time and forget that it is indeed that time of year.
Cranes are usually heard and than spotted, these cranes were low flying and appeared to have landed on the other side of the woods where a mowed field and small wetland are located.
A quick note:
Karen doesn't buy her mums until it is actually fall or at least feels like Autumn.
Well, that time is here.
If you are about to purchase mums and you lack experience, here is a little something to look for.
It is wise to buy plants that have several buds and maybe a few blooms.
While lots of flowers are attractive, they will peter out and you are left with nothing within a couple of weeks.
If the plant has lots of buds and a few starting to open, take a white sheet of paper, envelope or whatever.
Place it under a stem and firmly tap the buds.
If you see tiny livestock or little specks, leave the plant alone.
More than likely, the mums have juice sucking Thrips.
You will get the plant home and the flowers will turn brown before they ever truly open.
Thrips are a problem with some growers and that carries over to the retailer.
Many retailers are clueless.
You are left with a pest infested plant.
Now that Autumn is officially here, you don't have to give up on your flowering gardens.
True, many annuals are still in all of their glory, but many perennials are long gone.
There are however, a cornucopia of perennials that 'Nature' has given us that bloom well into Autumn and a handful of bloomers that wait just for September and October and in the Deep South, Southwest and along the Pacific, I'm sure into November.
Autumn sage (pictured) for the Southwest, is an example and a very attractive native.
Pineapple sage (native to Mexico), is a wonderful fall bloomer.
Blooming right now are several introduced species like Chrysanthemums (mums).
Many Fall bloomers are also native to North America.
I am going to share with you some Autumn bloomers in my yard right now (pictures from last week).
Native and introduced species.
New York Asters ( Aster novi-belgii):
Zones 4-8 possibly to Z 3 Height
3 ft. to 6 ft.
Spread 1 ft. to 3 ft.
Growth Habit Clumps
Light Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture Medium Moisture
Characteristics Attracts Butterflies; Native
Bloom Time Fall; Late Summer; Summer
Flower Color; blue, purple, pink, White.
Summer Interest, Fall Interest
You can't forget 'New England Aster'.
This aster's flowers have more petals than New York aster, giving them a more frilly look. Its flowers tend to close at night and on cold days. Many cultivars exist.
Native to the eastern United States and Canada, can be found in Gardens across North America.Maximilian's Sunflower (Helianthus maximilianii):
(Pictured with Panicum cloud nine as a back drop.)
The plant thrives in a number of ecosystems, particularly across the plains in central Canada and the United States.
It is also cultivated as an ornamental.
The preference is full sun and mesic to dry conditions.
The soil can contain clay-loam, rocky material, or loess.
This plant appears to have few problems with pests or foliar disease.
It can grow tall and spread aggressively, and may flop over while in bloom if it is grown in moist rich soil.
Can grow to 8 feet (2.6 m), mine is every bit of 8 feet, as is the native Switchgrass behind it.
Native Agastache can be found just about everywhere, but the garden worthy Agastache (Hyssop or hummingbird mint) is native to of the Southwestern United States of America.
Most agastache is hardy Z6-9 , however there are a few cultivars that withstand colder winters.
My A. Cana (Texas Hummingbird mint) grows to 3 feet (about 1m) that is hardy to Z5 and may winter over in Z4.
A. rupestris (Licorice mint), up to 42" tall; hardy in Zones 4-9; xeric; spicy fragrance.
Once Agastache start to bloom n early summer, it only gets better until the cold autumn temperatures slow it down and finally stop all flowering.
As you can see, mine is still going strong and a hummer or two still visits.
A must in any hummingbird garden.
I almost forgot this one.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida):
Native to the Eastern half of North America.
Shiny, deep green foliage.
Smaller and finer than R. 'Goldsturm' with Longer blooming season.
Six weeks after 'Goldsturm' is brown, this plant is at it's peak!
Blooms July to October.
New to my gardens this year, it is in full bloom at this writing.
R. 'Fulgida' is less prone to to the black leaf spot (Septoria leaf spot) often related to R. 'Goldsturm'.
Provides nectar for bees and butterflies, and seeds in the winter for birds.
Beautiful and versatile!
Excellent cut flower.
Height: 24-30 Inches
Zone Hardy 4-9
For the shady spots in your garden, you may consider,
Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’ (White Snakeroot):
Native to Eastern North America.
Blooms in September and October, but the charm is in the chocolate stems and tinted foliage.
Can grow to 4 feet, but mine usually hands around the 3 foot range and maybe 2feet wide.
Prefers moist, but not wet soil.
Zone Hardy 4-9
Other Native perennials that continue to bloom in the sunny gardens and into fall are:
Various Rudbeckia cultivars,
Several species of sages and many others.
Not only does God provide beauty for us, but nectar and food for pollinators, and seed and feed for birds and small mammals.
You only have to do some homework.
Another native for the shade garden.
Actaea racemosa (black cohosh, black bugbane, black snakeroot, fairy candle)
Blooms September and October, attracts many pollinators.
Depending on cultivar and growing conditions, this plant grows from 4 to 8 feet in height. (1.3-2.6m).
An outstanding specimen plant to have.
Many species of cimicifuga, also known as bugbane or black cohosh, are native to North America.
It is an attractive woodland plant that flowers and can be used as a decorative addition to woodland or cottage gardens.
It gets its common name of bugbane from its ability to repel insects.
The plant is best known for its many medicinal applications.
It is native to eastern North America from the extreme south of Ontario to central Georgia, and west to Missouri and Arkansas.
It grows in a variety of woodland habitats, and is often found in small woodland openings.
The roots and rhizomes have long been used medicinally by American Indians.
Depending on the cultivar, it is hardy in Zones 3-8.
Depending on the cultivar, this plant can grow from 3 to 6 plus feet tall.
Very Attractive foliage.
Plant as a specimen, or several in a grouping for a spectacular display.
A few non natives often adorn our gardens as well.
Anemone (A. Japonica), Japanese Anemone :
Pictured in my yard is, A. September Charm.
Anemones are zone hardy from 4-9.
Do well in partial shade, but in full sun in my yard.
Anemones grow from 2 to 4 feet, 'September Charm' exceeds 3 feet (1m) and possibly taller.
Living up to its name, 'September Charm' does indeed Charm the garden from September into October.
Many species of fall blooming Japanese Anemones can be found in garden centers and catalogs.
Plants can be invasive and the deer do like it (trust me).
It makes for a good conversation piece.
Flowers can be white to a number shades of pink.
Other non natives for the fall gardens are:
Several species and cultivars of mums, Sedums, Toad lily (Tricyrtis) and I'm sure a few I haven't thought of.
Pictured below is a Caryopteris bush in my back yard.
This little shrub is also native to Asia (some species are native to California).
Zone hardy 5-9 , the shrub only gets a little taller than 2 feet (2/3m).
Blooms throughout September and into October.
I really don't know of any other shrub that is considered a fall bloomer.
Rabbits keep it pruned back for me.
Well, it is time to fly for now.
Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.
I think that how one lives is more important than how long one lives. So I don't feel too bad.
A 32 Year old South Korean cancer victim
Does this quote give you a reason to pause and be thankful?
Sometimes we need to stop what we are doing.
One of my favorite Bible verses says to do so.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
"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,
Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.
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