Labor Day has come and gone and local schools, including UW-Madison, are all back in session. Which is another way of saying that it's Fall — and time to participate in the monthly Garden Bloggers Design Workshop over at Gardening Gone Wild.
Nan Ondra has written and illustrated an inspirational opening post to get our garden juices flowing on the subject of The Garden in Fall. But if you've been reading Each Little World recently, you'll know we're enjoying a green spell in the garden — regardless of the calendar.
It's been cool enough to keep the moss on the mill stone — and the rock it's resting on (above) — growing lushly; but not cold enough to color the big, flashy Bergenia leaves as yet. Fall is the season for grasses with their waving inflorescences, but I don't have enough sun for most of them; so I favor Carex (sedges) instead. However, I pulled the seedheads off of this Carex sylvarica earlier in the season, because I've discovered it is a thuggish re-seeder. If I'm vigilant at that job, then I can enjoy its presence in the garden. This Carex is also a very healthy grower. I originally planted a group of three when one would have done the job in this location.
One of my Fall favorites is Annabelle Hydrangea which Mark captured on a windy day (above). The huge mophead flowers persist through the winter becoming more bleached every day, until they finally blow away in the spring. It's always a tough decision whether to leave them on for winter interest in the garden or cut them now and turn them into a wreath for winter interest at the front door.
The Hydrangea hedge is growing in the shade of two 50-year-old Macintosh apple trees. We don't spray these trees or do any of the necessary work (other than an annual winter pruning) to harvest edible apples. We enjoy the cloud of apple blossoms in the Spring and let the green apples fall onto the moss below at summer's end.
Though it was never a conscious plan, it is clear from the following photos that my early Fall garden is filled with flowers that are subtle in both size and color. The dramatic show of reds and golds comes later when the trees turn. For now, I'm more than satisfied with the soft shades provided by yellow wax bells: Kirengeshoma Koreana (above) and K. palmata (below).
The only difference between the two shrubby plants, whose leaves resemble maples, are the flowers. Both have a form similar to a shuttlecock; but the flowers face outward on Koreana and downward on palmata.
Still putting on a show are the yellow waterliles in the pond. Though there are only a few flowering on any given day at this time of year, they still light up the pond. The water baby's breath, at the edge of the pond, has faded and fallen and is about to disappear entirely.
What is fall without sedums? This one (above) is as delicately colored as the pink fall anemone (below) in the bed bordering the driveway. But if you are not familiar with Anemone 'September Charm,' it's important to note that this plant looks delicate but is as tough as nails and will move through a bed taking over all available space if you don't keep it under control.
Most of my toad lilies barely have buds showing yet. They flower just before the first frost in a good year. Tricyrtis hirta ''Tojen' is an exception (below) and is in full bloom right now. I put in three plants about four years ago and they look like a shrub, the clump is so massive. The leaves are wonderfully glossy and the flowers look like orchids. Does not self-seed.
This aster (below) has no label in my files so I can say nothing about it other than it is a good four feet tall and currently a bee magnet. It's pale lavender blue and wants to flop where I have it planted due to lack of sun. It's getting enough sun to flower but not enough to be very sturdy. Next year I will cut it back early in the season to keep it a more manageable height.
The tag for this second aster (below) merely says "hardy aster" with no cultivar name — very annoying. But a nice size at only 12-18" tall. Both asters were intentionally planted near the Japanese anemone to emphasize the pastel color scheme.
Clumps of Cimicifuga racemosa 'Brunette' (snakeroot or bugbane, below) are in different stages of bloom throughout the garden. I grow them for the purplish leaves as much as the pink-tinted flowers. They also offer a contrasting shape to so many of the composite flowers of late summer and fall. A plant that's interesting in bud, bloom and seed stages.
Allium senescens 'Glaucum' is in the same border as the asters and Japanese anemone. That means its small lavender globes contribute to the color scheme; but I really grow this plant for its swirled rosette of blue-gray leaves that make an attractive groundcover at the front of the border. The flowers are a brief bonus.
This pond-side plant is one of the few bright tints in the garden this early in the season. Star fruit (Penthorum seloides) can actually grow in water up to a depth of four inches. It's about 18" tall. Though this has a tendency to seed, it doesn't travel far and it is recognizable as even the tiniest seedling, making it easy to pull it out wherever you don't want it.
In a month — maybe less — the maples will have the garden ablaze with color. In the meantime, whenever the view seems too soft and sweet, I only need to look through the fence to find a bright fall display in my neighbor's garden.