Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
October, 2003
Regional Report

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Red crabapples are a feast for the eyes and for the birds.

Red Letter Days

This fall I am fixated on red. Red flowers, red foliage, red tulips for next spring. I've never thought of myself as a "red" person but maybe I should. For instance, I love red roses, not just on Valentine's Day but in the garden; nothing says rose to me quite so well as a red rambler on a picket fence.

This fall I have been admiring the lingering blooms in the rose garden, bright red landscape roses still perking along. We picked one and set it in a tiny jam jar one day last week and it still looked quite delectable until late last night when the cat tried to eat it, or at least I think that's what happened.

Seeing Red
A Victorian-style bed and breakfast downtown has a standout roadside garden full of red rambler roses, red cannas, red begonias, and fabulous red dahlias. Their dahlias are the big, tall, gangly plants that bloom top-heavy and late in the season, needing staking to stand up. But the flowers are outrageous. I'm so glad they take the time to plant and care for them every year. I go out of my way to drive by and enjoy the display. We have just had frost so the dahlias and cannas are probably about ready to be cut back and dug up and stored for next year.

Another local favorite is an unpruned planting of bright red burning bushes (Euonymus alatus). These wide-spreading shrubs show their lovely natural symmetry with the brilliant color spreading from the branch tips downward. Each day, the color increases.

At home, the red maple (Acer rubrum) I planted in the meadow is coloring, the smokebush (Cotinus coggygria) glows like embers, and the delicate-looking serviceberry gleams with red highlights in the slanting sunshine. The scarlet Virginia creeper has mostly faded now, but it made a dashing display for several weeks.

After a very cold night, the tall miscanthus blooms are taking on a blushing hint of red. The brilliant reddening foliage and sparkling red berries on the chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) reaffirm that I planted the cultivar "Brilliantissima." And the scant couple of lonely red berries on the deciduous winterberry hollies (Ilex verticillata) remind me yet again that a different male variety is needed as a pollen source. Apparently the bloom times are not overlapping sufficiently for widespread pollination to occur.

So I am marking that on my calendar in red ink, to remind myself to add winterberries to my shopping list next spring. Right along with the red dahlias. And red tulips, but those I'll get this week.

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