Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Lower South
September, 2003
Regional Report

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Copper Canyon daisy erupts in a profusion of 1-inch yellow blooms in fall. The spicy foliage is generally avoided by hungry deer.

Second Blooming Season To Begin Soon

Summer is still blazing away here in the lower south. Spring is now a distant memory as we fondly remember those temperate days when our brief heavenly gardening season was in its prime. The good news now is that our second growing season is just around the corner.

Here in the south we have two growing seasons, spring and fall, separated by the scorching dormant season called summer! As August winds to a close and September arrives with decreasing daylength and the promise of cooler, wetter days to come, many plants are set to respond with a superb fall show of color.

Stars of the Fall Garden
Our roses are sheared back in late August to prepare for a great October show. Marigolds are going into the garden beds again where they'll put on their best show of the year in fall.

There are other great plants that thumb their noses at a southern summer, waiting for fall to really do their thing. They are programmed to take the stage and steal the show as the days become shorter. Butterfly gingers bloom in late summer and fall, filling the air with a wonderful fragrance.

Mexican mint marigold is still a mass of licorice-scented foliage now, but will soon be covered with small yellow blooms. Fall aster transforms from an unnoticed mound of foliage to a solid bouquet of small lavender blooms. Mums that have quietly held their ground through the summer now burst forth with earthtone blooms. I am especially fond of a single pink type called 'Country Girl'.

One of my favorite fall bloomers is Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha). Its purple spikes will soon be stopping traffic with their late-season performance. Late summer to fall brings on another wave of blooming bulbs. To start the show, the deep red oxblood lilies emerge after a good early fall rain on leafless stalks as if out of nowhere. I also like the late-summer to fall surprise performances put on by the Lycoris bulbs. An old fashioned favorite of the group is the Guernsey Lily (Lycoris radiata 'Guernsey'). Its spidery, red blooms appear out of the soil in late summer or early fall through the turf or ground cover where they have been hiding all year. This plant's cousins include the White Fall Spider Lily (L. x albiflora) and the yellow-blooming St. Augustine Lily (L. africanus).

So even though it is still hot, take heart and get ready; our second gardening (and blooming) season is on the way!

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