23 October 2011

Act II - Autumn

Many of my perennials begin in the warmth of spring with a vibrant burst of life, only to slowly give up in our notoriously hot and humid Washington summers. In August, the plants are as tired of the heat as I am of trying to care for them.

The garden comes back to life for one brief final fling when the nights cool and the days shorten. The steam-heat-loving fungal diseases disappear, as do many of the crawling and chomping beasties. Several plants are now on their encore performance prior to the final act of frost, and some are surprising. I like good surprises.

The miniature rose bush [2011.05.29] succumbed to black spot while I was away for two weeks in September. I came home to a barren cluster of stems with no vegetation or buds. Now it bravely blooms again, although I don't know how with stems devoid of leaves. I think I see a few new fresh shoots with leaves erupting.

Cardoon plants (Cynara cardunculus) were given to me this spring and did nothing all summer after being planted in the hot garden where the infamous octopus hollyhocks were removed. The future colossuses (colossi?) valiantly struggled through their first summer and now look like they are loving life.

The self-reliant white nicotiana [2009.07.09] annuals bloom through spring and most of the summer. After seed pods set, the flowers stop and there is little rebloom even with deadheading. There is a slow decline until I eventually put them out (rip them out) of their misery. The seeds are scattered and come back next year. In fall, some of the roots left in the ground erupt into a huge clump of leaves. Some of these will slumber through winter and wake up in the spring with a big head start on the sprouting seeds.

Fall blooming iris? The bearded iris Clarence [2011.05.03] must have heard me complaining that he took two years to bloom, so now he's making up for lost time. There is a lonely stem of baby iris buds reaching up. I hope they can open before frost. Do bearded iris bloom in the fall in addition to the spring? I guess so.

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: pink cosmos, mexican zinnia, zinnia, salvia, marigold
  • Harvested: 2 Anaheim pepper, 1 tomato


J.C. said...
What do you attribute the fall iris blooming to?
Les said...
I have a couple of reblooming iris also, but they are stingy with their flowers. Some years are good, others not. I hope your garden missed the snow.