|Fall creeps up on a rose blossom.|
Show us what's blooming in your part of the world! Just send me a Tree-mail with your photos, and I'll include at least some of them in the next four monthly editions of What's Blooming.
While we have had some frost, there are still a few hardy varieties thumbing their noses at the cold. Among the stalwarts are the ones that I've listed below. Click on the photos to enlarge them.
A late-blooming Monkshood (Aconitum napellus) offers a lovely purple-blue to compensate for the leaden November skies.
Spotted Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum) nestles among the fallen leaves and needles.
Irises that rebloom offer more bang for your gardening buck, but it's important to know what kind of rebloomer a particular variety is.
There are some caveats when shopping for irises that bloom more than once. "Cycle rebloomers" flower in the spring and then again in the fall. "Repeaters" produce new flowers fairly soon after their first spring blooming right into summer. "All-season rebloomers" flower irregularly all through the gardening season.
Bearded irises are generally hardy in Zones 3 through 8. Some will grow in Zones 9 and 10 as well. Whether or not an iris will rebloom at all depends on the zone in which it's grown. If you garden in Zones 3 and 4, there may be little, if any, reblooming, because the season is too short. If you garden in a climate that's relatively warm year round, the lack of reblooming may be due to the temperature. Rebloomers generally require exposure to cool weather at some point in their cycle before they can bloom again. Finally, some varieties just need a year or two to become established before they rebloom. It's always a good idea to find out what kind of rebloomer you're dealing with, before you buy it.
Monkshood is is another plant whose color brightens our late fall gardens. It's hardy all the way north to Zone 3 and south to Zone 8. Give it partial shade and moist soil and it will reward you with blossoms in shades of blue, purple, pink, and white. If poisonous plants in your garden are a concern, it's best to avoid Monkshood as it's considered one of the most toxic plants in the entire plant kingdom.
Annual Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) is frost resistant and has, so far, survived a nighttime temperature of 28 degrees in the open garden. An old-time favorite, alyssum blooms all season and does best in full sun. It has a low mounding habit, growing wider than tall. Once established, it can survive a bit of drought, but will droop noticeably if it gets too dry. It recovers quickly after watering. An added bonus is it's sweet, alluring fragrance.
The color palette for alyssum, once restricted to white and purple, has expanded considerably in recent years. It's now available in apricot, lemon, blue, red, pink, salmon, and copper as well.
The beautiful autumn Saffron Crocus is grown for two reasons: the color it lends to the autumn landscape and its "threads," used to flavor food. The threads themselves taste somewhat bitter, but when combined with food, they enhance existing flavors.
Unknown in the wild, Saffron Crocus is a likely descendant of Crocus cartwrightianus, which is native to Crete and Central Asia. Since Saffron Crocus produces no viable seed, propagation is by vegetative multiplication (bulbs).
Plant bulbs 3-4 inches deep in full sun to light shade in well-drained soil. Space them 2 inches apart, with the pointed ends facing up. Water well after planting. Saffron Crocus is hardy in Zones 5-8.
Also known as Mist Flower, Perennial Ageratum is native to the southeastern U.S. It has an open mounding habit and grows to a height of 2-3 feet. Pinching the growing tips once or twice in spring will produce a more compact plant. It spreads via stolons and can run rampant if it likes its growing conditions and is allowed to do so. You can keep the Mist Flower in check by growing it in a relatively dry spot, by removing stolons with a spade, or by planting it in a bottomless container buried in the ground up to its rim.
It prefers full sun, but will grow in semi-shade as well. In the latter, it will grow taller and its shape will be more open. Because it loves moisture, Mist Flower can tolerate poor drainage. Flower color is either blue, violet, or white. No matter which color you choose, butterfies will consistently seek it out.
Hardy in Zones 6-10, it requires some winter protection in our Zone 5 gardens. I prefer to pot it up in fall and store it in a dark, unheated room in our basement until spring.
Did You Know?
Articles at All Things Plants are released for publication at midnight (0:00), according to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in England. If you would like to take a crack at the mystery blossom as soon as the article appears, here's how it works:
"What's Blooming" appears around the 15th of the month. The 15th arrives earlier in England than it does in the U.S. When it's 0:00 GMT (midnight) it's still the 14th in the U.S. Here are the U.S. times corresponding to 0:00 GMT:
Eastern = 8 PM
Central = 7 PM
Mountain = 6 PM
Pacific = 5 PM
Readers in other areas of the world can convert their time to GMT here.
There are approximately 50 species of Lamium. They're native to Europe, Asia, and north Africa. The somewhat odd common name, "Dead Nettle," refers to their appearance, which resembles that of certain stinging nettles, but since Lamiums don't have stinging hairs, they're "dead" or harmless.
Lamium maculatum is a fast-growing perennial, often used as a ground cover. It prefers a semi-shady, dry soil and therefore is a good choice for dry, bare areas under trees. Spreading both by seeds and by stems that root as they grow along the ground, Lamium can be a bit rambunctous. Since it's shallow-rooted, I can easily pull it where I don't want it. It's hardy in a wide range of zones, from Zone 3 all the way south to Zone 10.
Name That Bloom Contest Winner
The winner of October's Name That Bloom Contest is Danita. She correctly identified the mystery flower as Gomphrena 'Fireworks.' I've been unable to get a response from Danita to my request for her favorite photo and for her responses to my questions. As a result, I've asked Allison (Onewish1), who lives in New Jersey, to be our guest gardener this month. She agreed to tell us a bit about herself.
|Allison's favorite blossom photo, a blue salvia (and her favorite bird)|
How did you come to be a gardener?
All my life I watched my grandparents on both sides of the family garden. My grandmother on my mom's side and grandfather on Dad's side. While I was a child I had no idea how much influence they had on me, didn't realize I wanted to be a gardener until I bought this house. The wooded backyard was the draw to this home for me. The garden that was here was a bit to be desired though, full of pachysandra, poison ivy, and weeds. The retaining wall was rotten and the pachysandra was actually growing through the railroad ties that were there. We replaced the wall and it sparked whatever roots passed along by them to make it look pretty. There have been many times I am out there working now that the thought of my grandmother crosses my mind like she is directing me.
How long have you been gardening?
It has been 7 years now.
Why did you choose this particular photo for publication?
Even though Coleus are my favorite plants, I love any flower to feed the hummingbirds. They give me so much joy to watch, so even though this one is not hardy here it was my favorite this past summer. I have never seen this particular one before but loving saliva and agastache I just had to buy it at a local nursery this year. The plant was in a gallon pot and already full and pretty. It looked wonderful throughout our crazy weather year and the hummers were very happy with it.
Do you have a favorite flower?
My favorite plants are coleus, but as for flowers there are too many that I love to just pick one. I love any flower for shady areas, any sun plants that will be ok in part shade, due to our living situation. I really do not have full sun anywhere but always push plants to see what will survive.
Do you grow vegetables as well?
Yes I try to grow some veggies every year. Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, and this year I added asparagus. Most years I do not have an overwhelming crop because of the lack of full sun, but usually do have enough tomatoes and cucumbers to share with the neighbors, but lucky to have just a few squash. I will just keep trying year after year though.
|MYSTERY BLOSSOM FOR NOVEMBER|
This cultivar of a species native to southeastern Arizona and the mountains of western, eastern, and southern Mexico takes its common name from the appearance of its blossoms. It grows about three feet tall and has fragrant leaves. In my Zone 5 garden I keep it potted, so that I can bring it inside for the winter.
HOW TO ENTER THE NAME THAT BLOOM CONTEST
Scroll down to the forum at the end of this article. Click on the thread, "November Contest Entries." Enter the name of the plant, either one of its common names or its botanical name (genus and species). It's important to include its cultivar name, which appears in single quotes when it's cited. The contest thread should appear shortly after publication of this article. For the timing, please see the "Did You Know" box in the text above. The winner gets to select a photo of a blooming plant from her/his garden, to be published in next month's What's Blooming article.
CONTEST DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 8, 2011
ABOUT COTTAGE-IN-THE-MEADOW GARDENS
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens, owned by Larry and Wilma Rettig, South Amana, Iowa, has been featured in local and national publications, on the Internet, and is listed with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as a national heritage garden. Larry and Wilma grow over 300 varieties of flowers, trees, shrubs, and vegetables. Since 1986, they have maintained a seed bank that preserves vegetable varieties brought from Germany to the Amana Villages during the 1850s. More . . .
Do you have any other hobbies?
We are extreme holiday decorators for Halloween and Christmas. Starting in September when things are starting to die down here in the garden we are always busy decorating until after Christmas. We make some of our own props and some of that is done the other months throughout the year. I like to sing but not seriously. I consider myself good enough for a karaoke night but not good enough to do it for a living. I love photography, seems natural to want to photograph what I grow in the yard, and any critters that live there.
Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about you?
I guess being a Gemini there have been many life changes in my hobbies throughout my life. I played sports in school, took dancing lessons and did serious competitions for years. Drove a motorcycle until I realized I was taking my life in my hands every time I take it out on the roads of NJ and then sold the bike and bought a horse. That sparked a desire to barrel race and to purchase a better horse to do that. I barrel raced competitively for a few years and loved it, had to sell the horses once we bought this house due to finances but would love to do that again someday. Somewhere in there I made jewelry for a while, and always seem to find something to keep me busy. Seems life always brings me something else to be interested in and [that I] need to learn about.