An autumn update


After a warm and dry late summer, a week of cooler temperatures was greeted enthusiastically. But, this lasted only a few days until unusual heat returned. As folks often say, it’s not the heat but the humidity, and certainly both have been abnormally high for October. At least the dry spell has ended, though rainfall has fallen short of forecasts and the gardener hopes for a bit more before cold moves in.

Monarch butterflies are regularly seen in early autumn, though rarely at other times when mostly Tiger swallowtails are present. Here, a Monarch visits a purple flowered seedling of a white flowered coneflower (Echinacea purpurea ‘Powwow White’) flowering in mid October.

None of this is particularly unusual, but the gardener is ever hopeful. For what? Rain that falls overnight several times each week, but waking to bright sunshine that cuts the chill of early autumn. We’re not there yet, and who can tell what rainfall is to come, though we are assured that cooler temperatures must soon be on the way.

Stems of Peruvian lily wind through low hanging branches of an Oakleaf hydrangea. Flopping stems and foliage of this Peruvian lily are unremarkable, but it has been in flower since mid spring.

There is some advantage that cold has been delayed. There are more blooms in the garden, with toad lilies and Peruvian lilies (Alstroemeria, above) continuing to flower, and camellias (Camellia ‘Winter’s Star’, below) and the coarse leafed Tatarian aster coming into bloom. Several toad lilies have flowered since early in August, and others will continue for several weeks, or until the first hard frost.

Winter’s Star camellia was off cycle a year ago, so there were few flowers until January. This autumn, flowers are weeks earlier than expected with first blooms usually delayed until November,
Summer Ice daphne has flowered continuously since late March. In its second year in the garden, Summer Ice shows impressive growth and flowering. Summer Ice and Eternal Fragrance are changing my opinion that daphnes are finicky. Both thrive in part sun, with reports that they manage well in full sun.

The hybrid daphnes, ‘Eternal Fragrance’ and ‘Summer Ice’ have been in flower to varying degrees since late March, and these will continue through early freezes. There are times in mid winter that the gardener will swear that buds will open if only a short period of mild temperatures stretches another day or two, and with the first mild spring weather the daphnes are not without flowers until November, and sometimes early December.  

This has been an exceptional season for the reblooming Encore azaleas (above), though the usually dependable ‘Twist’ flowered early and then faded in the heat of late August. Other Encores have flowered for weeks, with the pink ‘Carnation’ in solid bloom for two months and still going. In truth, I’m ready for its bubblegum pink flowers to fade, but there are no complaints otherwise.

Berries of red chokeberry are very glossy. Deer are a constant problem nibbling foliage, and occasionally I miss spraying them with repellent, so shrubs are tall and narrow.

I notice that berries are coming along nicely. Beautyberries (Callicarpa) have been in color for a month, and now dogwood and red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia, above) berries are fully ripe. Several hollies have red berries, but others will not turn for several weeks.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Angela Lee says:

    My 2 eternal fragrance Daphne had a fleeting minor bloom Midsummer then nothing. I have them in pots because of my idea also that they were finicky. They are healthy but bloomless so I will search for a spot to put them in the ground.
    My front yard is now full sun as I had 3 more 50’ dying white oaks removed.Bringing the total to 7!
    I am therefore dreading next spring and summer on behalf of both my Daphne and my Japanese maples.
    Ongoing thanks for your brilliant posts.
    The English gardener

    1. Dave says:

      I suspect that the irregular moisture of the container is the key to your lack of blooms. While the number of flowers varies on Eternal Fragrance through the year, there has not been a day since late March when an observer would not agree that ones in part to full sun are flowering. Not just a few, but many flowers. For ones in part shade, there are periods with few or no flowers, but with more sun you should see consistent flowering.

      Any green leafed Japanese maple should show little ill effect from full sun, but most red leafed types will fade in the summer sun, with some browning of leaves at the worst. A maple with a well established root system will fade less, and with more moisture there should be less stress from summer heat and dryness. By pure luck rather than good planning, many of my red leafed Japanese maples are partially shaded, so fading is limited, while green leafed maples are planted in areas with more sun.

      1. Angela says:

        Thank you. No doubt . I’l be watering quite a bit next summer.
        The English gardener.

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