Monday, September 4, 2017

As the September Garden Goes

Early September and the garden is still pushing a tired sort of way, but still plenty of beauty for the attentive eye. This post is full of pictures of my garden in early September.
Like many of you, I get tired of the daily grind of watering, weeding, and deadheading come late August (sometimes even sooner). But the garden goes on, working away for at least another 2-3 months in my Zone 7a region!
Hosta leaves may get crispy, but their fragrant white bloom spikes stand like soldiers in front of the hibiscus and hydrangeas in the back landscape.
Nandina leaves are turning coppery in color, while berries are beginning to form.
Endless summer hydrangeas continue pushing new blooms, while old blooms both fade and dry.
While the sun moves to a more southerly position, the angles cast a more golden light, enhanced even more so by plant and structural shadows.
Hard to see, but if you look closely to the left of my flag in the photo below, there's a dwarf re-blooming lilac plant. It's directly beside the flag pole, behind the hostas, and in front of the limelight hydrangea.
I've had this re-blooming lilac for at least four or five years, but it's never really done well, and never re-bloomed. This past spring while moving some plants around, I brought it forward only about two feet, and it's seemingly made a real difference. Next spring will be more telling, when the first flush blooms appear, but it has a few blooms right now.
My Jack-manni clematis is also a re-blooming variety, but it never pushes many blooms on its second go round in late August, early September. Its lack of second blooming is likely due to position of sun now, and obstructing growth surrounding it.
Here it is September, and my Mexican sunflowers are just now taking off. I had a time with these this year. Not one seed I germinated survived replanting, so I received pass along plants to put in the ground in late June. They will continue blooming through first frost.
I've already cut back my bee balm, as it was literally falling over into the black-eyed Susans, looking really messy.
Just beyond the black-eyed Susans, knockout roses continue growing up the wall, and dwarf butterfly bushes are spread out just in front them.
Tree form butterfly bushes are totally messy, just beyond the black-eyed Susans in the opposite direction of the kockout roses (see photo below). Pictured are three mature plants all grown together at this point in the season. They will be cut to about 18" come late October. The hummingbird feeder pictured comes down in a day or so, encouraging my little buddies to move on for the season. It's best not to keep feeding them much past mid-September in my region.
My containers, though full of roots by this time of the season, are still pushing many blooms. I'm watering them using the wilted Sunpatiens as my guide to tell me when. I had to stake the purple fountain grass, as they toppled from the weight, height and last rains.

Courtyard climbing roses are blooming again, though not as full as first flush. I hard pruned them in early June. If lucky, I'll get one more flush in November.
Lavender continues to produce, and I typically harvest in evenings before predicted rain, which otherwise drenches the buds prime for cutting (sorry, my camera was obviously focused on the rose).
The lavender I transplanted earlier in spring fared alright, but never pushed blooms once replanted (it's the scrawny one in the photo above, just beyond the first trellis). Below is a before and after of that lavender plant transplanted. You can see it had blooms, but those, as well as the leaves of the stems themselves, simply withered. Simultaneously, new growth emerged as seen in the lower frame. It has the blue-green appearance in its leaves. They seem stable, but next year will be more telling.
Annual beds are still looking good with angelonia, vinca and geraniums, and I'm not even watering them. The boxwoods have wild hairs growing.
Every day I come outside to find the same webs spun in the same places, which I either walked through or necessarily had to take down to get through gate or unwind a hose. Most likely those webs are created by the same busy spiders in those places the night before.
Spider webs among the boxwoods
Liriope mounds are now blooming, and dark berries will soon follow.
Liriope blooms
Some crazy little mushrooms are also blooming.

The mushrooms seemed a perfect backdrop for the little self-contained, tabletop fairy garden I've had the pleasure of enjoying in my sunroom this season. The little gnome, wheelbarrow, birdhouse, fountain, trellis, bench, rocks, lamb, fence and box were all just $10, spotted in Aldi's seasonal aisle in spring.
The visiting butterflies in the garden this year have been both ordinary (skippers) as well as extraordinary. Those shown in the collage (from clockwise, top L - monarch, tiger swallowtail, swallowtail and zebra swallowtail) are what I consider extraordinary.
I enjoyed the numerous monarch which visited this year (more than years past!), but my favorite was the zebra swallowtail, with beautiful, aqua coloring!
On eclipse day (August 21, 2017), right at the 90% totality for us, I paid attention to the plants and visitors, as seen below (clockwise, top L: ruby-throated hummingbird, clearwing moth, swallowtail butterfly, and honey bee). While definitely present around me, they seemed more intentional, slower. It never was dark for us, but rather a greenish yellow tint in an otherwise sunshiny day.
Walks in the neighborhood during the morning are crisper, cooler. The views below are looking in opposite directions along the river (west and east, respectively), standing in the same place.
Neighbors along our path have fig bushes - not trees because of how they're pruned - and I love to sneak up and pull one, and bite into it when it's warm and juicy.
While Mr. P. retired from grass cutting this year, he does still pull weeds for us, regularly. We are fighting wild violets with a vengeance (by use of  Speedzone) and, after a two-year hiatus from having our lawn professionally treated (weed & feed applications), we've decided to go back to that regimen. 
We're also taking back our yard from critters such as voles and/or ground squirrels. I bought the sonic repellers pictured below and just installed them last week, and will see what happens. We have little tunnel holes all over our landscape beds and lawn, but no heaved up piles of dirt in the lawn. They've eaten several of my plants from the roots, and it's gotten totally annoying.
While the temps are cooling down, I'm thinking of replanting a couple of things that seemed to either be eaten from the voles, or ones that have simply played out their life cycle over the years. Sage and asters are just two which come to mind.

Autumn Joy sedum (depression plant, as my sister's mother-in-law used to call it for its sad foreboding of summer's end) is beginning to turn mauve on the flowertops. I always cut my sedum no later than June by at least one-third; otherwise they topple with weight from their height.
On the last evening of August, I caught the fledgling (below), chirping away in my courtyard. He was having trouble scaling the courtyard wall, and mama bird kept calling from atop the brick ledge. I hoped the bird would make it out but, sadly, he was expired on the courtyard ground, near the wall, the next morning.

Do you know what breed he is? If you guessed cardinal, you were right. :) He was probably between 11-14 days old. We hosted at least three cardinal broods this year.
It's soon time for pumpkins and gourds and scarecrows. At home, I follow the seasons fairly closely with the calendar. Other than a few pillow changes in the sunroom, I haven't even begun to dress the house for the colder seasons. 
Thanks for joining me as I journal my 2017 garden to early September. Are you anticipating fall, or have you already settled into it in your home and garden?
Rita C. at Panoply

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