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The autumn garden: Beautifully alive and definitely dead


We’ve had several frosts now (Indian Summer, where are you?) so the garden is a mishmosh of dead and alive right now. Some things are looking great and so much else is looking terrible.

I’ve been trying to take some mental notes for the future. I went heavier on the annuals this year than I would have liked, in part because I hadn’t decided what I wanted to plant in some areas, but the downside of that is that the garden looks really quite terrible right now. The annuals that are continuing to withstand the frosts are getting gold stars and mental notes for future years.

Verbena bonariensis, which I grew from seed, is still looking good (even with a little Halloween flare thanks to the cobwebs).

verbena bonariensis withstands frost in fall.

And good old Nicotiana alata ‘Lime Green’ is still doing its thing. As though I needed a reason to love that plant any more than I already do. 

Nicotina alata

Vermillionaire cuphea was so wonderful again this year (planted en masse to woo the hummingbirds, a mission that was quite successful), but it has pooped out with the cold. But Artemisia Makana Silver, a new plant from Terranova Nurseries that will be available next year, is just fine and, damn, it’s a looker.

Artemisia Makana Silver from Terranova Nurseries is still going strong after several frosts.

The coleus, of course, is absolutely pathetic. If I don’t find time to pull it out soon I might lose my mind.

Coleus is very sensitive to cold temperatures, unlike the Hakonechloa 'All Gold' behind it.

And the dahlias are so sad.

Dahlias after frost

Thank goodness for hydrangeas, the floral stars of fall.

Limelight bloom in autumn
Limelight was looking almost golden in the autumn sun.
Bobo hydrangea in its fall pink color
Most of the Bobo hydrangeas have taken on a brilliant pink hue.

But a few plants have both newer white flowers and blooms turning pink.

White and pink Bobo hydrangea blooms

The new Japanese maple (I made a video about planting it and redoing the bed it’s in that you can watch here or at the bottom of this post) hasn’t started changing color, but I was surprised to find a very cold monarch butterfly in it the other day. Poor guy was trying to warm his wings, but I fear he may be starting his journey to Mexico way too late.

Monarch in Japanese maple

And of course the monkshood is just starting to really get into its bloom now. It’s so beautiful but I don’t dare bring it inside because it’s highly poisonous and I don’t want to take any chances with the cat or dog.

Beautiful but poisonous acontifolium

Whenever the the garden looks a bit unsavory, I can always just look up for a dose of color.

Fall color

What’s the state of your garden these days?

Here’s that Japanese maple video:

12 Responses

  1. I tried growing Verbena bonariensis from seed this year (twice) and they never germinated. What is your process?

  2. Thanks for your spring blog mention of Nicotiana Alata “Lime Green”. I ordered seeds upon your recommendation and the plants are still going…even after being pruned in summer and the frosty northern Indiana nights.

  3. I think I need you to come visit and teach me how to do videos. Loved it! And your garage looks so fabulous. ThoughI can’t believe you can dig in flip flops. My garden is looking so so. Took pix today to remember what looks good which Iwill post next week. Alas most of toad lilies and Anemonies froze before blooming.

  4. Darn, now I want to get outside and move things around! Thanks for sharing videos like this. They are inspirational.

  5. We’ve had two frosts this week, so the garden is bedraggled. We pulled the veggies today, along with coleus, zinnias, and dahlias. Why didn’t I remember to make a bouquet before it hit?

  6. Still no frost here but this weekend may bring one. Got all my houseplants cleaned and brought inside. Need to put some big lots of Begonia Pegasus into our tiny green house? Cleanup will have to wait because I injured my knee and have limited mobility.?

  7. So nice to visit your fall garden. My garden is a bit overwhelmed by green leaves, as we have had a lot of wind storms with the rain. The rain has overwhelmed so many plants this year, even with my good draining soil. But my hydrangeas are beautiful…still with that blush of cold color and my little potted Acer is still holding on to his leaves that are beginning to turn to burgundy and some beautiful fiery reds. My Knock out roses are still erupting with red and pink bursts of flowers. Burgundy mums i planted last year grew into a cloud of color that is now beginning to pale…i need to move them, because i had no idea that they would get as big as they did in a small rock garden area! lol! Ah, and now i’m facing the clean-up. I liked your idea of the shredded leaves as my winter mulch. It worked out great last year. Do you make the leaf cages around your hydrangeas for winter/spring storm protection? Well, the sun is out this weekend so here I go…

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