Late October in the garden

The autumn foliage colors of the swamp red maples, beech, and poplars have been disappointing, a result of the late summer heat and drought, but the dogwoods have colored to deep crimson as is usual. The Japanese maples, Franklinia, Stewartia, and Gingko in the garden are beginning to change, perhaps a little late, but I anticipate their full splendor in another week.

The asters and perennial sunflowers have begun to fade, and though they began to bloom a bit later than expected, there has been a full month of flowers, so no reason for disappointment. Both showed little effect from the horrid late summer weather, other than the short delay in blooming, growing tall and stout, with only a few branches of the tall sunflowers flopping about.

There are a handful of toad lily cultivars in the garden, and none have behaved as expected. Only one bloomed by the first of September, with the others delayed until late in the month, and then the buds of ‘Miyazaki’ and ‘Samurai’ have opened all at one time, rather than progressing from top to bottom along the arching stems as usual. ‘Sinonome’, ‘Gilt Edge’, and one other (whose name I can’t recall) have numerous buds that will bloom over the next weeks so long as we avoid a frost or freeze.

A few of the coneflowers (Echinacea ‘Coconut Lime’, above) have rebloomed, a result of deadheading the faded flowers in early August. I rarely get around to deadheading, and don’t know what motivated me to do it this year, but now I can appreciate the dividends of my labor.

The Japanese windflowers are in full bloom now, and I hesitate to say that they were delayed in bloom since I can recall that the pink  ‘September Charm’ (Anemone ‘September Charm’, above) did not bloom at all in September a year ago. ‘Whirlwind’ (below) suffered a bit of damage to the foliage from the drought, a little crispy around the edges, and is perhaps a little floppier than usual, but is blooming and happy with the recent rain and cooler temperatures.

The Encore azaleas began blooming in mid August, several weeks early in my garden, and have buds that will continue to open until a hard frost. ‘Sunset’ and ‘Princess’ are loaded with buds, but have failed to bloom yet, and probably will not unless warm temperatures stay around for another couple weeks. ‘Rouge’, ‘Amethyst’, ‘Empress’, ‘Royalty’, ‘Sundance'(below), and ‘Twist’ bloom most dependably in my garden, and all have flowered for nearly eight weeks.

The Drift and Knockout roses continue to bloom, though the Oso Easy roses have faded, and appear to be finished for the season. The Knockouts will often bloom well into November, sometimes through the Thanksgiving week if the nighttime temperatures don’t drop to the low twenties.

The reblooming hydrangeas (Penny Mac, above) have flowered sparsely in the early autumn, with only a few scattered blue flowers. In many years the blooms in October cover the shrub, and today there are plenty of buds, but they have developed too late to bloom this season.

The Seven Sons Tree (Heptacodium miconioides, above) exhibits clusters of small white blooms in August and September that are favored by bees and butterflies. In the week following the flowers fading pink-red bracts develop that are as showy as the blooms. The bracts remain colorful until frost.

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