Blooming in mid September

I realize that by happenstance I’ve begun to assemble quite a collection of hummingbird mints (Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’, below). With little planning I’ve added a few from the garden center, and one or two that sounded too good to pass up were purchased by mail order. In similar fashion I’ve purchased enough coral bells and coneflowers to fill a smaller garden, but many of these have been disappointments or failures, so that only a few dependables of each remain. The hummingbirds mints grow successfully, some modestly and others like gangbusters. 

As happens too frequently to someone who should know better, I’ve paid far more attention to planting and keeping up with the garden than I have to record keeping, so I’ve lost the names of several of these wonderful hummingbird mints. Thus, I can recommend only a few by name, but I’m confident that any will be splendid additions to the sunny (and preferably dry) garden. All are sturdy, even in poor, dry soils, and their blooms attract all sorts of flying and buzzing beasts from late spring into the autumn.

As surrounding neighbors have encroached with ever deepening shade, a yellow leafed agastache (probably Agastache foeniculum ‘Golden Jubilee’, above) has become only slightly less vigorous, and perhaps a bit floppy. It has seeded itself modestly, and so far as I can tell the seedlings are identical to the parent plant. ‘Summer Glow’ (below) has been planted for only a year, but in the dappled shade of the Golden Full Moon maple it has grown nicely though its blooms are likely to be a bit more sparse than in full sun. 

One hosta or another has been flowering in the garden since late in the spring, and now the latest in the garden is blooming. Though most hostas are grown for their foliage and not flowers, this green leafed hosta (below) with a slight variegation of gold fades considerably in summer, so the nicely formed blooms easily outperform the foliage. For some reason tiny ants are drawn to the bloom, and perhaps this is typical of other hosta flowers but it has escaped my attention until  now.

The liriopes (Liriope muscari’ Variegata’, below) are valued for their grass-like foliage, but the purple flower spikes in late summer are delightful. The green and white variegated liriope is most commonly used for edging planting beds, but I’ve filled difficult open spaces with poor, gravelly soil, and it grows without a hitch.

I prefer the green leafed ‘Big Blue’ to the variegated, though both are in the garden. A few year ago I planted an improved green leafed liriope, ‘Cleopatra’ (below), and though it is not significantly different from ‘Big Blue’, the foliage is slightly wider and darker, and the flower slightly more purple. I have planted it at the edge of the driveway in impossibly compacted ground, and surrounded by a thick carpet of ivy. For whatever reason, the ivy refuses to clamber over the low growing liriope except for an occasional stray stem.

The last of the coral bells (Heuchera, below, and I am supposing this is the last since by my recollection all the others have flowered earlier) is now blooming, and of course I have forgotten its name, but it’s a vigorous grower with slightly yellow foliage. Its flowering stalks are compact and upright, in contrast to the nodding flowers of most coral bells. I’ve had more than a few of the newfangled heucheras fade and eventually perish, but this one grows a bit larger each year, just like it should. 

I have grown a bit tired of brightly colored new this’s and that’s that are sent to market without much concern for their long term vigor, but I suppose that I’m only a little annoyed since I keep biting for new ones. The latest is a foamy bell (Heucherella ‘Golden Zebra, below, a cross of heuchera and tiarella), and though I’ve only planted a few I’ve had good success. The foliage on ‘Golden Zebra’ is remarkably bright, and I’ll be overjoyed if it proves to be dependable.

With plenty of rain and cooler temperatures there are plenty of flowers in the garden, and so as not to tire you out I’ll cut this short (or not so long) and return in a few days to update the remainder. Later in the week we’ll take a look at the marvelous toad lilies, and then the spring and autumn flowering Encore azaleas, so there will be a bunch of blooms to cover in the following weeks.