Perhaps it’s too early to be late in the month, but that’s really not the point. There are flowers in the garden, lots of them, and this is Virginia in October, northern Virginia, closer to the mountains than the shelter of the city.
Nighttime lows have fallen into the mid thirties, and there are not so many flowers as any day in April or May, or July for that matter, but I planned for an Autumn blooming garden, and I can’t help but be pleased.
The remontant (reblooming on new growth) hydrangeas, Penny Mac (above) and Endless Summer, have been flowering since late May, though they slow down in the heat of Summer. There are numerous buds remaining, but those will not develop fully with cold temperatures.
The pink and red Knockout roses (pink, above) began blooming in May and often continue until Thanksgiving. A year ago, freezing weather halted their flowering by the tenth of November, but other years I’ve had a few flowers remaining in early December.
Though the temperatures are too chilly to wade into the swimming pond, I regularly visit the koi and enjoy the colorful red calyx of the nearby Seven Sons Tree (Heptacodium miconiodes, above). Clusters of small white flowers appeared in early August, so the tree will be a highlight of the mid Summer and early Autumn gardens.
The Encore azaleas (above and below) are blooming, not as heavily as October a year ago, but with splashes of color, and many more buds to open if the warmer weather predicted for the coming week arrives. This is the second season for the Encores to bloom in the mid-Atlantic, and the number of blooms often rivals the Spring.
On visits to the Gulf coast in early December they are often in full bloom, which I’m told can stretch until after the new year. The Encores then flower off and on from early Spring into Summer and Autumn deeper in the South, but the later Spring bloom in Virginia does not give sufficient time to reset buds for a Summer bloom.
A delightful long blooming fuchsia, ‘Angels’ Earrings’ (above), is marginally hardy, but requires greenhouse-like humidity to over Winter indoors, so it will have a go of it in the garden. This fuchsia is mounding, not weeping, but the blossoms are so low that I’ll have to move it to cascade over one of the stone walls to show them off properly. Other fuchsias in the garden are quite hardy, but not so beautiful as this.
There are several Peruvian lilies (Alstromeria, above) in the garden, some hardy, others marginal in this climate. All have bloomed from late Spring through today, though there was a period during mid Summer when the foliage melts in the heat and the plant nearly disappears.
Other perennials save their floral show for the end of the season. The Japanese Windflower (Anemone, above) has single or double white or pink blooms that stand on long stems that wave in the October breezes.
Taller still, and in bloom, are the perennial sunflowers (Helianthus, now beginning to fade) and Tatarian Daisy (Aster tataricus, above) that has many buds that will flower over the next several weeks.
The taller Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis, above and below) that were growing in almost full sun have few flowers remaining, and fewer buds, but the plants that had been pinched back through mid Summer have many buds still to flower. The early cold does not seem to trouble them, so I look forward to more weeks of bloom from this carefree, easy to grow perennial.
On this frosty October eve there are other bloomers that space will not allow. Several Sedums, Joe Pye Weed, and several Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale) will flower until we get back later in the week.