Early autumn flowers

The early autumn garden will never match its abundant color in spring and summer, but in the weeks before frost and freeze the flowers are quite satisfying. With the first hard frost much of this will shrink overnight, but then red berries and autumn flowering camellias and witch hazels will maintain at least a few splashes of color.

The red spider lilies (Lycoris radiata) have peaked and most are fading, with a few latecomers still looking good. I am always tempted to add lycoris and other fall flowering bulbs since they make a nice show when there’s not as much blooming, and they take little space.

Most foliage color in early October is remnant of our late summer drought, but as temperatures get cooler and daylight hours shorter, the peak of autumn color is still to come. I do not plants mums or pansies for seasonal color. Instead, there are pockets of colorful blooms throughout the garden.

Colchicums have increased in numbers this early autumn, here coming up through a patch of Banana Boat carex.
‘Orange Peel’ cestrum continues to make a show through early autumn. The flowers are said to be fragrant after sunset, but I haven’t ventured out to give the sniff test since my sniffer has never worked well.
The earliest of the toad lilies began to flower in late July. It has now faded from bloom, but all others will continue flowering for several weeks, or until the first frost. There are handfuls of various cultivars in the garden with varying heights and flowers.
The fleece vine continues to grow, even as it flowers. The vine edges the roofline of the summerhouse, so it must be regularly snipped when it hangs too low.
‘Tiger Eye’ abutilon has been a wonderful addition to the garden this year. I plant only a handful or two of tropicals in containers, but ‘Tiger Eye’ has flowered since late spring. I plan to overwinter it and another abutilon indoors and perhaps it can flower through the winter.
‘Pugster Blue’ buddleia continues to flower. The attentive gardener can multiply its blooms by deadheading, but of course I don’t, and still it continues to flower.
The yellow foliage of ‘Canyon Creek’ abelia is a small bonus, but it is the marvelous blooms that make it may favorite.
The last of the flowering hostas. Though hostas are favored for their foliage, many have lovely blooms.
‘Purple Pearls’ beautyberry (Callicarpa, above and below) continues to flower in early October, but alongside abundant, shiny berries. While the flowers of most beautyberries are unremarkable, blooms of ‘Purple Pearls’ are much more colorful. While other beautyberries must be cur back considerably to remove dead wood in early spring, stems of ‘Purple Pearls’ die back very little. It is purported by the breeder to be a small, compact beautyberry, but I have found it to grow vigorously, and larger than others. It has become a favorite of the beautyberries along with the native with flowers that encompass the stems in tight clusters.

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