Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My antidote to mumdom

Late summer/early fall is a problem for me—and it may be for many of you as well. The problem is that I really, really hate so many of the plants that are recommended for this time slot. Autumn Joy sedum? Ew. Ornamental cabbage? Ew. MUMS? EW! EW! EW!

The persistence of my favorite annuals—as well as the blooms of such truly classy fall plants as sweet autumn clematis and Japanese anemone—help me make it through the late summer/fall months.

Perhaps nature’s plan is to make it easier for us to accept the passing of summer by choosing end-of-season plants that are so easy to relinquish. Yet, in some ways I love this season. I love the plants you’re not supposed to love: the non-native goldenrod, the toxic and invasive pokeweed, the wild asters. I seek these plants out and cut them for huge, sculptural arrangements, the purple stems and berries of the pokeweed contrasting with the sulphur yellow goldenrod, with the unruly sprays of wild boltonia as a backdrop. Indeed, one of my keenest pleasures of this time of year is to find and create such an arrangement.

When I do, I’ll post it here. It's early yet.

15 comments:

chuck b. said...

Sculptural arrangements?

chuck b. said...

Sorry, I posted a comment before I finished reading the post. Antsy!

Pam/Digging said...

I love fall asters too. How about ornamental grasses? There are so many great ones to choose from these days.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I am with you... I despise so many of the "usual" flowers of a season: daffs in the spring (although some of these species daffs in the Old House Gardens catalog may make me change my mind), daylilies in the summer, mums in the fall. Argh. If I were less unrepentent about it, I would feel guilty for my snobbery.

Sedums, though, are different. I'm all over 'Matrona' for fall color. And I love it when the grasses start to turn different shades of rust, and the baptisia glow yellow, and the oakleaf hydrangeas crimson up, and the hostas turn to acid chartreuse before they brown and crumble...

mmw said...

Elizabeth, what would you recommend planting with a small bed of "Orientals" (Casablanca, in this case)? They're all alone right now (except for weeds of course), and it's going to be pretty barren when they go dormant.

I'd like something to look at in the winter, and most of the things that come to mind want to stay dry in the summer...

kate said...

Have you tried Sanguisorba or Cimicifuga? There is also late-blooming Meadowrue that look great ... they are blooming right now. These plants are different - so are Toad lilies. I love Asters too, but I'm partial to my maroon-leaved Sedum. It has cool flower heads (well, at least I think so).

EAL said...

Hi mmw,

I suggest high, late blooming perennials and annuals, such as rudbeckia triloba Prairie Glow and nicotiiana Bella. Maybe gallium verum, but good luck findng that.

Roses work well, also.

Dorothy Guyton said...

I think it is a great talent to plant and grow flowers, but to be able to make floral arrangements is something that I tried on a smaller scale. I feel like an artist when I make an arrangement (whih is rarely). What do gardeners do when there is no gardening to do? They read about gardening. Try "Diary of a Wannabe Gardener." it is a humorous read related to gardening. Preview it at www.bbotw.com Enjoy gardening, enjoy nature, and enjoy life.

LostRoses said...

I get what you're saying, Elizabeth, but to me a few pots of colorful mums lining the walkway are as much a part of fall as Christmas trees are to winter. Plus popping a few into some containers that all summer held now worn-out annuals is a good end to the gardening year!

Would I give them space in my garden beds? Not likely.

EAL said...

Oh, and mmw-grasses? Ferns? Ferns are lovely with lilies. But I am suffering from some zone ignorance--to me, winter means nothing to look at, plant-wise, and I don't expect to see plants at that time.

EAL said...

I meant sun-tolerant ferns--lady ferns will take it.

EAL said...

lostroses,

Expensive though, for the short time they are alive--I just try to spin out the annuals as long as I can. (Late season shots of fertilizer and plenty of water for all the containers!)

jodi said...

Interesting post, as always. I happen to like the mums that come in cool colours, like deepest burgundy, rose-copper, and such. As for the flowering cruicifers, maybe try a container with Strobilanthes, (Persian Shield, with its metallic purple/green foliage, one of the cabbages/kales, and a bronze carex--not a flower in sight, but a unique and interesting plant combination.
Maybe because we have cooler temperatures, we're no where near 'end of season' yet. There are still daylilies, monarda, echinacea, oriental lilies, sedums, and even peony-leaved poppies happening here; with fall asters and most helenium yet to come. Lots of lavatera too, in fact lots of all kinds of things. I really recommend Helenium to anyone who has the right growing conditions, as it's a lovely and oft underutilized perennial.
Whoops, sorry to run on so long; it's just that I find there are all kinds of things still to be happy about (and I'm in autumn denial, too!)

Jane M. said...

Aww...I love ornamental cabbage! They're purty! The rest of it I agree with though, and I too am big into "wild" arrangements. (I once was chastised by a naturalist for gathering roadside plants for this use. "They belong to ALL of us." Hmph. I doubt anyone was crying over the loss of a few stems of sweet Annie, but whatever.}

jana braswell said...

Mums are the WORST! My husband makes fun of me all the time, because mums are my least favorite flower of all (even tho, in their defense, they are still flowers and therefore, still beatutimus), I just cant stand them. Everywhere I turn, MUMS. Its like they are stressed out, all crammed up in there.. so, so.. tight. Anyway, Im so glad you said 'Mums, ew! ew! ew!'. I couldn't have said it better myself. G-d bless you.