The ongoing adventures of gardening in Nova Scotia
20 October 2011
The closing down of planting season...almost!
Hard to believe we're into the latter part of October already, isn't it? The days are so much shorter now, and of course windy, often rainy, and sometimes even cold-ish. When it's not raining, blowing, or cold, there's plenty to do in the garden. My planting bench may be finally cleared of things to actually plant (except for bulbs, which I haven't started yet)...
But there's still a surprising amount of bloom in the garden. This fall monkshood variety is aptly called 'Cloudy', and although it's late to bloom, I think it's my favourite aconitum.
There are also all kinds of interesting seed heads to admire, if you're into seed heads like I am. Here we have telekia in the foreground (something similar to Inula), with the teasels and Miscanthus 'Malepartus' towering in the background. I leave most seed head stalks stand for bird food and for winter interest, or interest-as-long-as-they-stand-the-wind.
Still have several varieties of tricyrtis (toad lilies) in bloom in our garden, though the foliage is definitely looking moth-eaten (actually, probably leaf-cutter bee eaten, plus wind whipped.). This one, I think, is 'Empress'.
This is a great time of year for the warm-season grasses that flower in late summer and autumn. Many of the pennesetums aren't hardy here, but I think this one is. 'Hameln' and 'Karley Rose' certainly are, and hopefully 'Red Head'. This, I think is a species, unnamed.
Lots of bright red berries festooning shrubs around our garden now, even though much foliage is still holding on as well. The common burning bush is a cheery plant, and while it's invasive in some areas, I've never seen so much as a seedling from mine.
The same with its relative, the amur cork tree, which has even more interesting seed heads.
This common green barberry becomes electric with foliage colour as fall progresses, but for now it's extremely heavy-laden with fruit. Birds eat the berries on the outer branches, but they don't try to get too deeply into the shrub.
Meteorologist Cindy Day remarked on CTV Atlantic the other night that heavily-laden mountain ash trees means a hard winter in weather folklore. I don't know whether that pertains to high bush cranberry but this tree is well-laden with fruit for now--til the birds clean it off. The mountain ashes ARE really laden with berries too, but I don't have any right in the garden, just in the wilder areas of the property.
I planted a grapevine maybe 7-8 years ago, long enough ago that I don't know what variety it is. I don't tend it other than to prune it some in the spring, and string some support for it. This year it has a lot of grapes, enough that I'm tempted to make jelly out of them. If the birds don't get them before it stops raining around here.
The berries of Hypericum 'Albury Purple' start out red and turn to purple-black as they ripen. These sorts of berries are often popular in flower arrangements, although not this hypericum in particular as it's low-growing with short twigs. It's going to be carefully mulched as cold weather comes on, because it's a bit marginal for our garden. I'm getting buddleias (butterfly bush) to come through the winter now, though, so I love a challenge.
The native witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is in bloom in woods and gardens now. Mine has lost many of its leaves in the gales of wind, which makes those dainty, spidery flowers easier to see. Often you can smell witch hazels before you can notice them, because the blossoms have a light, pleasantly spicy scent.
Also native, winterberry or Canada Holly (Ilex verticillata) needs both males and female plants in order to produce berries. It took me a couple of years to sort out which of my shrubs were male and which female, and then I had to plant another male and a female so as to have good berry production in different parts of the garden.
More blooms still coming on the 'Purple Bowl' ironweed (Vernonia crinata). This is a beautiful variety, with flower heads that do cluster in a bowl-like shape. The bees certainly appreciate it, and so do I.
Many people have problems with Physostegia, the so called obedient plant, being disobedient. It's actually called by that common name because you can move the florets around on the flower spike and they will stay put, but the plant itself often has roaming tendencies. I have the variegated form, and it's never been disobedient, growing quietly in its part of the garden, its clean green and white foliage nicely attractive. Then in September, it starts producing flowers, and keeps on flowering for another couple of weeks yet.
Next week calls for fairer weather, so I should be able to get some weeding, thinning, and cleanup done in the garden before I start with bulbs. What about you--are you finished planting for this year, or just getting into the next phase of 4-season gardening?