Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Final Fall Favorite: Nippon Daisy

This flower has been blooming in my garden for a good month now. It is a cheerful, sunny spot in the fall garden. However, I am struggling to keep it compact and shrubby.

I have this daisy, also called the Montauk Daisy in two spots: one part sun, one full sun. Both spots get decent moisture. Last year both were in part sun. I tried pruning them back in May in order to make it bushier and fuller. Alas, by October I had barely a bloom. The problem may not have been when I cut it back however. This site indicates that one should prune it by half in mid-summer. I wasn't sure what to do, so I moved one to a full sun spot and did not prune either.

This year, lots of blooms on the full sun daisy, but leggy and sprawling. And on the part sun daisy? Nothing ... and leggy. This week I am moving the part sun daisy into full sun and I will cut both back by 1/2 in midsummer. I want these to become small semi-evergreen shrubs in the perennial bed.

For a nice round-up of October flowers, check out Adrian Higgins' article in today's Washington Post. I think I'm going to pop by the garden store to buy some asters!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Fall Favorite: Physostegia

By early October these vigorous bloomers (Obedient Plant) have started to fade, however they are the stars of my garden for all of September. When I say "vigorous," you know what I mean, right? Be careful where you plant them!

I devote one section of the perennial bed to them and then rip them out without mercy from everywhere else. They spread but grow well around lilies and help stake them up. Their toothy foliage makes a great backdrop and I like their shade of green in front of the zebra grass. I'd love to try the purple, white, or variegated varieties.

They thrive in sun, but handle shade as well. Physostegia has never seemed to be a picky, thirsty, or temperamental plant. So if you can spend some time controlling it's spreading -- try this out for a fall bloomer. Stop by for divisions in November, I always have some to give away!

For some beautiful October plant ideas, stop by Nancy Ondra's fabulous blog: Hayefield.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Fall Favorite: Tricyrtis Hirta

Every year at the end of October, we host a huge party. Our garden is packed with kids and adults and pizza and pumpkins. I always spend the first few weeks of the month stressing about the state of my garden -- filling in the holes, deadheading, raking, mulching -- only to find again and again that no one really notices. Not the children trampling the perennials to hide in the shrubs nor the adults cutting through the lilies to get to the bar.

This year will be different. I will straighten things up but I will not purchase new plants. Most importantly, I will rope off the garden with stakes and Christmas lights so I don't go insane from the foot traffic in the garden beds.

Here is one of my fall faves:

My toad lily (tricyrtis hirta) was a welcomed surprise last week. I had given up on it -- it dried up last fall, turned brown, and was gone by October. This year I saw some foliage but never expected much. What a pleasant surprise!

Now while it won't win any awards for it's size and health, I am just thrilled that the wetter weather agreed with it. My plan is to leave it here for another year, pay closer attention to it's moisture, and check on it again next October.

Stay tuned this week for more of my fall favorites!