Sooooo, we knew it was going to be hot on
Hummingbird Day with highs close to 100 and
heat indexes well into the 100’s.
Alley decided we all might be better off and
happier if we had Susan Campbell measure and
tag the hummers indoors this year. Susan was
not unhappy when we told her.
Her helpers were not quite so lucky. They did
manage to find some shade but I don’t think it
made too much of a difference. It was 100
degrees in the shade!
We only managed to “bag” two hummers this year. An adolescent male and an adolescent female.
All and all it was a lovely day!
Another lovely late summer-early fall bloomer is Lespedeza. I’ve been growing a lovely hedge row of the cultivar ‘Pink Cascade’ for about three years now. They are not at all picky about what kind of soil they are growing in (I am growing them in unamended sand) though they tend to be more lush and larger in a heavier soil. A little bit of water for the first three months after planting and then they pretty much take care of themselves.
Lespedeza is in the lupine family and being so its flowers are very much like a sweet pea on an upright shrub with fountain-like cascading branches strongly held. They have been one of the easiest perennials that I have grown, dying back to the ground every winter and coming back strongly every spring. Lespedeza is a wonderful, hardworking perennial that is definitely worth the “room” holding down a corner of a perennial border or making a lovely hedge row in your landscape.
We carry two cultivars here at Big Bloomers. Yes…..I know what you are thinking, “What…only two?. These two are a little more “well behaved” than the species normally is.
‘Pink Cascade’ blooms late summer through fall. It grows from 3-5 feet tall.
‘Spring Grove’ is a newer cultivar that blooms late spring and then again in fall. I’ve been working on a new hedgerow of these in a different area.
Two of my favorite flowers for fall have to be helianthus and heliopsis. Both helianthus and heliopsis have a very similar look and growth habit. Though with hybridizing they are continually coming up with some interesting looks. We carry a nice selection of both in our greenhouses.
This helianthus is 4-5’ tall and blooms August through September . Its considered “the best of the genus” The flowers and leaves are small but it tends to grow into a large clump very quickly and is a vigorous bloomer.
Maximillian sunflower as it is commonly known is a tall specimen growing 5-8’ or taller. It blooms in late September or early October.
Helianthus salicifolius ‘First Light’
First Light is 4’ tall and blooms in late September into October.
Helianthus salicifolius ‘Low Down’
Low Down is new and unique in that it is short, just 18” tall. I never thought I would see one this short. With its short stature it would lend itself well to smaller gardens and container plantings.
Heliopsis ‘Summer Sun’
Summer Sun has lovely semi-double flowers strongly held at 3’ tall. It blooms late summer through fall.
Heliopsis ‘Summer Nights’
I love this heliopsis with its red stems. Its a bit more loose in growth and may be floppy in less than full sun. It tops out at 3-4’.
Heliopsis ‘Bressingham’s Doubloon’
I love this one as well with is fluffy semi-double flowers. It tops out at 4-5’ and blooms summer through fall.
Before I started working at Big Bloomers if you asked me what flower I would first think of for fall it certainly would have been and probably still is the asters.
We currently have in stock 18 different kinds of aster. Some are trailing, some are tall and gangly and some are low enough to be considered ground cover. They are all very lovely and I am always very appreciative that they stick around all summer (especially now that I live in the south where the summers can be particularly and gruesomely hot and humid) and grace us with their beauty when most everything else in the garden is just about giving up the ghost.
Like the chrysanthemums, I will list them by height or growth habit and use the cultivar or common name without the species when possible. No particular reason, I just think it is a bit less confusing not using all those Latin terms.
These five are the tallest. With the tallest two being September Ruby and Winston Churchill. Being 4’ and 3-4’ respectively.
Next is Lady in Black at 3’ tall.
Lady in Black
These next three are 2-1/2’ tall.
White Wood Aster
This next group are the intermediates. Starting at 2’ are
Evergreen aster is about 20” tall.
and the next three are all around 1-1/2’ tall.
Next according to height would be the 15”
Wood’s Light Blue
Professor Kippenburg is just a big shorter, topping out at 14”.
Snow Flurry is a diminutive little groundcover aster that I love just for the very simple fact that it would rather be dry than wet. Which I can do big time in my sand. This one tops out at 6”.
and last but not least in a class all by itself is our very own Aster carolinianus. This one is more of a viney, sprawling aster growing up to 10-12’ WHAT! Yes 10-12 feet. Its also fragrant to boot. Don’t cut this one back since it comes back on the old woody vines and gets longer and longer and longer and longer ha.
I thought this one deserved two pictures.
My friend and co-worker Julie…you know the one with the blue feet, found Alley yesterday hanging out in one of our dry fountains.
I have to admit I silently wished “my kingdom” for some water and an outlet so I could turn that fountain on. OH come on…she needs the exercise.
Speaking of fall blogs, I think if you asked, most people would equate chrysanthemum as the first flower they would think of if asked for a fall blooming annual/perennial. Many buy them as annual color in the fall though they are all somewhat hardy. Though the earlier in fall they are planted will insure their hardiness through their first winter.
We provide the normal “pinch and trimmed” potted chrysanthemums for fall color every year starting in September. I’ve planted them in my landscape and have had them come back with decent results though I don’t find them particularly long lived.
In lieu of the “pinched and trimmed” fall mum, you can still have lovely fall flowers with the chrysanthemums we stock year-round in our perennial greenhouses. These old timey chrysanthemums will grow and multiply, happily blooming in your fall gardens without any help at all (though a couple of prunings during the growing season keeps some from getting too tall and gangly). With their pastel shades they bring a lovely “touch of spring” while summer is waning.
Here they are in all their fall glory.
Emperor of China
All of these cultivars are 24-36” tall. Given a pinch or pruning midway through the season will keep them a bit shorter.
But…if its shorter you want, you can always grow the species weyrichii or pacificum which top out at 12” and 18” respectively.
weyrichii “Pink Bomb”
pacificum “Pink Ice”
We have spent the past week plugging pansies and violas for fall sale. They will be ready for planting in your garden about the end of September. Snapdragons, annual dianthus, ornamental cabbage and kale were also done.
I’ve enjoyed these last couple days of cool weather. I love this time of year when summer dies down a bit. Perennials can breath a sigh of relief and the fall bloomers can really start to kick in. I’m thinking some fall related blogs might just be in order.
Throughout the years, the owners at Big Bloomers have employed many teenagers as summer and part-time help. They usually end up doing much of the grunt work. Putting up an endless supply of annuals, moving them around here and there and everywhere as well as weeding and a huge list of other chores.
I am still somewhat of a “teenager” in my heart and so I thoroughly enjoy working with them. Too many names, faces and smiles come to mind to name them all but every one of them have brought something unique and singular to our nursery.
This year, like every year, we will be losing some as they leave to make their own way in the world. We will miss each one and are wishing them the very best of everything.
Many of my “Where’s Alley” blogs were from pictures taken by one of our “kids” leaving us this summer.
Over the years her and Alley have created a unique friendship. Alley can usually be found somewhere around Ashley whenever she was working. I think Alley thought of Ashley as her personal publicist considering all the great poses Ashley has caught her in. So for Alley a working relationship turned into a lovely friendship.
One of the last days Ashley was here she “captured” Alley in an extremely rare hiding place. None of us have ever seen her there before.
Can you see her? That pot in the left hand corner.
Ah yes there she is…the little rascal
Can’t you see I am resting…I mean doing some undercover work.
This one’s for you Ashley.
This year’s Hummingbird Day was the best ever. Susan Campbell caught a record (for us) 9 hummers and tagged 8. One got away. Sneaky rascal.
Heather and Ashley manned the caging and did the actual capturing which I am pretty sure made their day.
When a hummer came to feed they pulled the string and caught them in the cage.
They got one!
This is a video of Susan bagging the hummer.
Banding the Hummer
and then letting it go
What a wonderful way to spend the day!