Spectacular Fall Blooms – Black- Eyed Susan’s!

In my garden I have planted to encourage butterflies, bees and birds to enjoy and pollinate.  At this time of the year it is important to keep food sources plentiful for these wonderful creatures.  Black-eyed Susan’s start blooming in late July and continue all fall in my garden in Zone 5.

Most common of the Black Eyed Susan’s is Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’. If happy, I find it seems to reappear in new areas of my garden as if by design.  Remember when your pollinators are busy plants appear where they are most happy.  If you don’t want this you will need to pull them out.  These look best when planted in masses or drifts.  Leave the seed heads and the birds will love you! Hardy to Zone 4.

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Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum’

Rudbeckia hirta like most of the Rudbeckias are herbaceous perennials and is happy in Zone 3 to 7. It blooms from June to September with yellow or orange yellow rays and dark brown centers. The leaves are a little rough and hairy giving a nice contrast in the perennial border. It loves full sun and medium water.  It will naturalize!  That means spread!

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Rudbeckia hirta

Rudbeckia fulgida var. ‘Deam’s coneflower’ has large daisy like flower heads in yellow or orange petals (rays) with a dark center. It tolerates either full sun to partial shade. Have clay soil, you’re good to go with this variety and for the most part all in this category.

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Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Deam’s coneflower’

 

Problems with deer? Then Black-eyed Susan’s are for you as deer typically don’t touch them.  BUT!!!! when hungry deer will eat anything! Forewarned!

Indian Summer is drought tolerant but don’t think the bunnies aren’t interested! This summer I have been battling with these determined guys.  Winter hardy to Zones 3-7.  All Black-eyed Susan’s need full sun and well-drained soils. I find that deadheading spent flowers helps prolong bloom time and encourage additional blooms. Given a spot they love they will self-seed. They have daisy like flower heads that appeal to butterflies. The flower heads are huge and add bold, stunning color to borders.

Black-eyed Susan’s are sometimes called Gloriosa Daisy.

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Rudbeckia ‘Indian Summer’

Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ is a tall beauty and one of my favorites and this summer a favorite of my local bunnies!  It can grow up to 7′ tall so I use it in the back of the border and support it. It starts blooming in June and goes all summer. It loves well drained soil in full sun. The large daisy like flowers having drooping petals (rays) with bright green center cones.

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Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’

Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ prefers medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun.  Deadheading here also helps encourage additional blooms. It typically grows 3-5′ tall so I use it in the back of the border to showcase smaller plants. It has stiff, upright leafy stems that hold these blooms straight and tall.  I prefer to support all of my very tall plants with decorative supports. The rays are rolled unlike the typical Black-eyed Susan’s so it has a quilled effect. The flowers bloom in clusters starting in July and lastly all the way thru September.

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Rudbeckia ‘Henry Eilers’

What pairs with these late summer gems? Well I love purples so in my garden I have Agastache Blue Boa, Russian Sage, Liatris, Daylilies, Phlox, Nepeta and Dahlias.  In one bed I have paired it with “hot” colors like red and orange daylilies and Dahlias as well as Red Persicaria.

What combinations do you love with Black-Eyed Susan’s?

Attracting Pollinators to your Garden

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Black Eyed Susans – Rudbeckia

Pollinators are crucial to the production of most fruits, nuts and berries including apples, oranges, tomatoes and blueberries.  There are many plants that will attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees to your property.  In order to attract these pollinators plant a succession of blooming annuals, perennials and shrubs so pollen is available throughout the growing season. Planting flowers in large drifts and different shapes will also help attract pollinators. Just as we can’t find a ‘needle in a haystack’ neither can they.  One plant will not say ‘COME HERE’ to my yard!  Be Bold!

Butterflies are attracted to red, yellow, and purple blossoms that are flat topped or clustered and have short flower tubes and they prefer to feed only in the sun. Sunflowers, Zinnias, Lupines, Red-osier Dogwood,  Chokecherry and Asters are a few. Female butterflies select specific plants on which to lay their eggs. The Monarch butterfly relies on Ascelpias – Butterfly weed as it serves as a Host and Nectar plant.

 

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Verbena bonariensis
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Yarrow

Hummingbirds are attracted to scarlet, orange, red or white tubular flowers sipping nectar from long tubular honeysuckle flowers as well as Verbena, Zinnias and Penstemon.

Bees are attracted to bright white, yellow or blue and purple flowers so plant several colors in your yard to attract a variety of pollinators such as Black-eyed Susan’s and Sunflowers. Bees, unlike Hummingbirds and Butterflies feed only on flowers gathering nectar and pollen.

You will get hours of enjoyment watching the hummingbirds and butterflies dance around your garden and think of all the cut flowers you will have for bouquets!

Some Plants that attract polliantors:

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Joe Pye Weed

 

 

 

 

 

Salvia guaranitica; Asceplias; Agastache; Asters; Verbena bonariensis; Rudbeckia – Black-eyed Susans; Lavender; Lespedeza;  Leucanthemum- Daisy; Ligularia, Coreposis, Helianthus annus- Sunflowers; Baptisa, Catmint, Solidago – Goldenrod, (not to be confused with Ragweed); Lilacs, Antirrhinum – Snapdragons; Buddleia – Butterfly Bush; Zinnias, Penstemon; Phlox; Allium, Cosmos, Monarda- Bee balm- Eupatorium- Joe Pye weed; Columbine; Echinacea- Coneflower; Achillea millefolium – Yarrow to name just a few.

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Bleeding Hearts – Dicentra spectabilis

 

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Phlox ‘David’
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Zinnias

A great source for plants to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds to your garden is White Flower Farm.  They can help you select a variety of plants to keep a steady supply of pollen and nectar available all throughout the growing season. You can find them at  White Flower Farm

 

Do you want more ideas for Pollinators? Here is a previous Blog-A few more Pollinators

Take time to smell the ROSES!

Roses are perhaps my favorite flower!  There are so many varieties, some with glorious fragrances, others with prickly thorns that always seem to get me through my garden gloves.  Roses are quite versatile in the garden as they can be used in mixed borders, as a hedge, in a Rose only border as climbers or container plants and of course they make wonderful cut flowers.  Planting in groups of three or more makes a big impact if that is what you are after. What is your favorite way to use Roses?

My favorite roses are David Austin English Roses www.davidaustinroses.com but there are many other types of Roses.  Knock-Out Roses are very useful in the landscape as well.  Roses are very adaptable plants and look great in a mixed border which is my preference. They continue to flower when many other plants are finished blooming providing color right through the end of the growing season here in CT.

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Over The Moon

One of my favorites is ‘Heritage’ which has a medium sized cup shaped bloom.  It is a soft, clear pink at its center and the the outer petals are almost white. Thankfully for me it has very few thorns and is a nicely shaped shrub.  The fragrance makes it one of my favorite for cut flower arrangements.

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David Austin Heritage Rose

I have finally gotten ‘Munstead Wood’ and Old Rose Hybrid that I have coveted for years. It is a very deep velvety crimson. Hopefully this will take hold and become a lovely bushy shrub.  They supposedly have good disease resistance so that is always a plus when it comes to Roses. The new leaves are a lovely reddish bronze and it has a very strong Old Rose fragrance that is a little on the fruity side. I am very excited for this to really take off.

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David Austin ‘Munstead Wood’

Another new Rose for me is ‘Princess Anne’.  This rose is a deep pink and blooms for a long period.  An added benefit for sure! The blooms are in large clusters and this Rose has a medium Tea Rose fragrance.  This too should become a lovely compact, bushy, upright shrub.

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David Austin ‘Princess Anne’

I couldn’t talk about Roses without showing you one of my all time stars – ‘Winchester Cathedral’.  I have a few of these and have moved them with me from property to property since I can’t bear to leave them behind.  This is an Old Rose Hybrid with a lovely fragrance of honey and almond and is a pure white Rose with just a touch of pink at the center. There are masses of flowers on this shrub and it blooms at different intervals during the season. It would be a superb selection for anywhere in your garden whether in mixed borders, hedges or flower beds. I can’t get enough of this Rose!

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David Austin ‘Winchester Cathedral’
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David Austin ‘Winchester Cathedral’

Another of my favorites is David Austin ‘Graham Thomas’ but it did not bloom this past year as I have transplanted it now so many times.  This year I hope to see that lovely pure yellow bloom once more. This is one of the best known of the English Roses and is usually very vigorous and fragrant.

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David Austin Graham Thomas

There are other varieties of Roses as I mentioned earlier, Climbing Roses, Knock-Out Roses, Shrub Roses.  Here are some more photos to entice you into planting at least one rose bush this year whatever type suits your fancy!

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Pink Knock Out Roses

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Noble Anthony Rose

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Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, IT Rose

More from the home of Linda Allard. Sorry I don’t know the varieties.

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“What’s in a name? That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

William Shakespeare

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas can add drama to the garden whether pink, white, green or red.  They make great cut flowers!  Early spring is a perfect time to plant Hydrangeas because the ground is still cool so they are less likely to get stressed.

Hydrangeas are basically low maintenance shrubs and highlight the summer and fall gardens. Just prune occasionally for shape and they will serve you well. The key with Hydrangeas is to site them properly to start with so they have the appropriate room to grow and don’t need pruning. You should however remove spent flowers and dead wood. They prefer sun and some shade.  If you do need to prune it should be done after the years’ bloom cycle has ended to ensure blossoms for next year for some that is late summer or even late winter.

I’ll try to explain some of the many varieties of Hydrangeas:

Hydrangea Paniculata – Blooms on new wood and has large coned shaped flowers and are very cold hardy.

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Hydrangeas

Quick Fire’ – turns a lovely rosey-pink in fall and blooms up to a month earlier than other Hydrangeas; Bobo’ – compact with lime green and violet blooms; Pinky Winky’ –  has large white panicles that turn turns pink at the base during the fall creating a two-toned effect; Pink Diamond’ – white blooms fade to pink and Limelight’ – huge, bright lime green panicles that changes to deep pink, red and burgundy in fall.

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Pink Diamond
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Hydrangea ‘Pink Diamond’
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Hydrangea ‘Pink Diamond’ on left
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Hydrangea ‘Quick Fire’

Hydrangea Quercifolia – Oakleaf Hydrangeas – These have a lovely, peeling bark on older stems and a felt like bark on newer stems. They start out white and turn pink as the season progresses and have amazing burgundy red leaves in fall. Shown below is ‘Alice’ which I use in my garden in a group of 3.  Give it lots of room to spread out! The inflorescences are about 10-14″ long. Others to consider: ‘Snowflake’; ‘Ruby Slippers’ and ‘Gatsby Moon’

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Oakleaf Hydrangea in fall

Hydrangea macrophylla- “Bigleaf Hydrangeas” – these have large round mophead flowers particularly in June, July and August. They have beautiful dark green leaves and can provide some but not great fall color. Also in this category are the Lacecaps.

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Hydrangea ‘Bloomstruck ‘Endless Summer’

Flower color can be determined often by the acidity (blue-purple) or alkalinity (pink or red) of your soil. Some of these bloom on new growth as well as last year’s stems. So prune right after flowering to be safe if in doubt which you have. Deadheading spent blossoms unless you are going to dry them will help produce more blossoms.

Endless Summer – Bloomstruck’; ‘Nikko Blue’; ‘ColorFantasy’; and ‘Vanilla Strawberry’

Hydrangea arborescens or ‘Smooth Hydrangeas’ – which bloom May – June on new wood so they are good for colder climates although there is little fall leaf color. Most notably ‘Annabelle’ is one of the most hardy with large inflorescenses. Also ‘Incrediball’ is another variety

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‘Annabelle’  (Source: Missouri Botanical)

Yet another popular Hydrangea anomala petiolaris: the Climbing Hydrangea: This Hydrangea has lovely white lacecap blossoms and a thick vine that also produces horizontal branches and nice thick green leaves and clings to any structure. The bark is also distinctive with its cinnamon colored bark that exfoliates and is lovely in winter.

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Climbing Hydrangea (Source: Missouri Botanical)

 

A good source for Hydrangeas is White Flower Farm since they also ship if you are not in the CT area. www.whiteflowerfarm.com

Amaryllis revived! Amaryllis blooming!

 

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If you are like me and love these beautiful plants you will want to save them till next year. After blooming the bulb needs to rebuild itself. Cut off the flower stalks about 3-5″ above the bulb. Do not cut off the foliage. Keep the plant in a sunny location and water when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. After all frost had passed I moved mine into the garden and sunk the entire pot into the ground for the summer. In the fall after the frost blackened the leaves I cut them off and brought the plants into the cool basement in the dark for about 8-10 weeks. I then repotted them with new soil and gave it a bit of warm water and put them on the window sill hoping they had survived. YEAH! Finally after many weeks they are just peaking thru. Now you start watering when dry. I have them on my west facing kitchen window sill. I will keep you updated with pictures as they develop. Fingers crossed they will be just as beautiful as last year!

Amaryllis are certainly worth waiting for.  With a little care these beauties will brighten your entire winter!

Tip for next season: Order in the fall for blooms by Ground Hog Day.  Amaryllis make great gifts.  Enjoy!

Outstanding Fall Color from Shrubs

Fall in New England can be a magical time with the explosion of color everywhere, the crisp fall air and the anticipation of winter.  It is important to consider all the seasons when planning your garden or adding to it.  If something is not working, be brutal and pull it out and replace it with something that provides color in a different season.  Here are some of my fall favorites considering that I live in Zone 5.

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Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’
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Viburnum  ‘Mariesii’
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Kousa Dogwood
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Barberry ‘Royal Burgundy’
Hydrangea ‘Quick Fire’ leaves turn glorious colors in fall
Hydrangea ‘Pinky Winky’
Allium tuberosum

 

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Pink Diamond
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Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and Oakleaf Hydrangea ‘Alice’ which turn a deep red in fall
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Viburnum ‘Brandywine’
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River Birch
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Cotinus ‘Royal Purple’
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Physocarpus – Ninebark – ‘Summerwine’ and ‘Coppertina’
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Amsonia ‘Montana’
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Hamamelis x intermedia
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Acer palmatum – Japanese Maple ‘Koto no ito’

Of course, don’t forget about perennials- seed heads from Alliums, Sedum, Seed pods from Siberian Iris and Mums

Tell me your favorite fall perennials and shrubs! I also love Red Twig Dogwoods and Fothergilla gardenii for great fall color.

Did you miss the last blog on Fall Grasses or Handy Tips for Autumn clean up

Grasses- The Backbone of the Fall & Winter garden

There are grasses to suit every need and every garden no matter what climate you live in.  Slowly over the summer they grow and slowly by fall they capture you with the amazing structure they bring to the garden. They explode as the season progresses providing a perfect backdrop for late summer and fall blossoms like Dahlias and Black-eyed Susan’s. I now have so many different grasses in my garden and they serve as the backbone of each of my different beds. The foliage and seed heads can be variegated, gold, blue, red, dark-leaved, moisture loving, shade loving, sun loving, tall, short or just spectacular for fall color. They make great companions to other perennials like roses. They can be planted in planters, used just as accent plants, used to line or create pathways, to edge a border or even in water gardens.

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When the light shines thru the seed heads they are electric; lighting up the entire garden no matter the weather. Grasses capture light like no other plants I know. When backlit they almost glow from within and this is the ideal way to showcase them.

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Mine are mixed with Russian Sage, Salvias, Dahlias, Phlox, Black-eyed Susan’s, Daisies and Daylilies. I use them to create backdrops for my flower beds where hardscape is not possible. Certainly if you have a wall or other structures grasses can soften those features.

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The texture of different grasses provides a plethora of finely textured shapes all within the category of grasses.  You could just have grasses and no two would look the same. I love that grasses are such low maintenance plants.  Frankly, other garden plants take plenty of my time so these hard working plants can just take care of themselves.

Here are some of my grasses. Frankly, I’m losing track as my grasses as tags get lost.  When choosing grasses for your garden remember to check the water and light requirements, pest issues like deer and rabbit resistance before selecting.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Little Zebra’ – ornamental grass Zone 5-9 Hgt 3-4’ (6-8’ tall when flowering) Wine-purple fading to tan; winter interest; Full sun to part shade

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Miscanthus sinesis “Gracillimus’ – ornamental grass- Zone 5-9 Hgt 4-7’. (8’ tall when flowering) Copper maturing to Silver; Great winter interest; Full sun to part shade

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Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ – Maiden Grass – Zone 5-9 Hgt 4-6’ (Flower stalks 6’ tall) Narrow green leaves with white Variegation on margins; Silvery appearance; Full sun to part shade but best in Full sun (far back left next to Norway Spruce)

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Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ – Feather Reed grass – Zone 5-9 Hgt 3′ (5′ tall when flowering) Purplish-Green flowers turn golden as seeds mature; Winter interest

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Miscanthus sinensis ‘Yakushima’- and ‘Yakushima Dwarf’ – Maiden Grass Zone 5-9 Hgt 3-4’  (Can reach up to 8’ tall) Very showy; Full Sun

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Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ – Switch Grass Zone 5-9 Hgt 4-5’ (6’ tall when flowering) Olive green to bluish-green foliage with yellow flower panicles; Winter Interest; Full sun to part shade.  Full Sun is best

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Panicum virgatum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ – Switch Grass Zone 5-9 Hgt 3’ (5’ tall when flowering) Silver-green leaves turning burgundy red; Winter interest; Full sun to part shade, Full sun is best

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Panicum virgatum ‘Ruby Ribbons’ – Switch Grass Zone 4-9 Hgt 2-3’ (4’ tall when flowering) ; Blue-green foliage that matures to purple-red. Performs best in Full Sun

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Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ – Switch Grass Zone 5-9 Hgt 3-4’ Burgundy-Red foliage with reddish pink flower panicles; Full sun to part shade

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This year!
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Just planted last year

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Moudry’ – Black Flowering Fountain Grass Zone 5-9 Hgt 2- 2.5’ (3’ tall when flowering) Best in full sun but can take part shade; Dark purple flower spikes (cover photo)

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Red Head’ – Red Fountain Grass Zone 5 -9 Hgt 2.5-5’; Winter interest; Burgundy-Red plumes; Full sun

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Softening hardscape (rock and fountain)

Pennisetum oritentale ‘Karley Rose’ – Oriental Fountain Grass Zone 5-8 Hgt 18″  (3’ tall + when flowering) Winter interest; Showy, fluffy, pinkish-white flower spikes; Full Sun

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Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’ – Little Blue Stem Zone 5-9 Hgt 3-4′ Brilliant fiery colored foliage though the fall

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Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ and ‘All Gold’ – Japanese Forest Grass Zone 5-9 Hgt 1 – 1.5’ Woodland Grass – Part Shade- Aureola is a golden striped form; All Gold has bright golden yellow leaves.

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Chasmanthium latifolium – Northern Sea Oats Zone 3-8 Hgt 2 – 5’ Self seeds if not cut; Good in an area that you can naturalize- another words- let it do its thing. Full sun to part shade; Seed heads emerge green but turn purplish bronze. Bright green leaves.

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Carex morrowii ‘Evergold’ – Sedge Part Shade Hgt 12-14″ (in front of bird bath)

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I also use annual grasses for color contrast and backdrop in my annual bed.

Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ – Fountain Grass -Zone 9-10 Hgt 3-5′ Full Sun

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Now for the topic of cutting down grasses in fall.  This is really a question of taste.  Can you see your garden from the house? In winter, let’s face it – if we can’t see these plants or structures in the garden from inside you will not have much enjoyment from them.  In that case cut them down.  I typically leave mine up but tie them around so they don’t flop at the first sign of snowfall. This way I can watch them sway in the breeze, or more accurately WIND at my house! Be sure in either case that they get cut down in early spring before the new growth starts. Having said that some grasses do self seed and those you will want to deadhead or just cut down. I forgot to do that last year with my Sea Oats and I paid dearly for it all this year pulling out those unwanted seedlings.

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If your grasses are starting to have large areas that are not blooming it is probably time to divide them.  There are many great books out there on grasses. I really like “Grasses” by Nancy Ondra.

One of the best resources for plant information is Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder.  I use this to check zone compatibility, water and sun requirements, deer and rabbit resistance and soil preference. Another resource for information on Coleus: Plant Care Today

As you drive around notice how grasses are being used in your area!

Naumkeag, a National Historic Landmark

Naumkeag was the summer retreat for NYC lawyer and diplomat Joseph Hodges Choate and his family. This property is a National Historic Landmark for its designed landscape created by Architect Fletcher Steele. The famous Blue Steps have been photographed thousands of times I’m sure but the property in any season is magnificent.

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The mansion was designed in 1885 by Stanford White and became the property of The Trustees in 1959 allowing visitors a glimpse into the past. In 1929, Mabel Choate inherited the property and oversaw a redesign of the gardens. The house has outstanding views of the Berkshires to the west and also towards Monument Mountain.

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Top Lawn and Tree Peony Terrace

A greenhouse, dairy, and farm produced all of the food for Naumkeag.

The Rose Garden could be seen from the bedroom windows and really needs to be seen from above.  The serpentine paths of gravel wind through beds of floribunda roses.  The railings are painted purple. I love that!!

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The Linden Walk is all dressed up now for Halloween.  It leads into the spruce forest.  There is a statue of Diana at the focal point.

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The Blue Steps are a set of concrete steps that wind their way down to the lower garden and allowed Miss Choate to make a gradual descent to her cutting gardens. The Art-Deco design is considered one of the most famous landscapes in our country.

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The Water Runnel links the fountains for the Afternoon Garden with those in the Blue Steps.  What a delightful feature that attracts wildlife and has a lovely sound.

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The Afternoon Garden was the first garden designed by architect Fletcher Steele. There are brightly painted Venetian gondola poles that frame the views of the hilss and enclose this outdoor room.

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The Chinese Garden, a walled garden, can be entered and exited through the Moon Gate.  There is a Chinese style temple, oriental plants and trees including a group of nine ginkgo trees and statues.

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Moon Gate
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Chinese style temple

The Pagoda is constructed of cast-iron on a marble base and framed by Japanese red maples.

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The Evergreen Garden has a circular pool and is a lovely spot for reflection and is surrounded by boxwood hedges. This garden is surrounded by an Allee of Arborvitae that has 24 clipped arborvitaes.

Worth a trip especially during the fall! Enjoy!

Guided tours of the house are available from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. The property is located just out of the center of Stockbridge, MA.

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HANDY TIPS for autumn garden clean up (Seed heads for Flower Arranging)

Fall foliage can afford some of the loveliest plant arrangements.  This time of year we find all types of seed heads to use in our decorating.  So, before you cut down everything in your garden save a few items for decorating and if not save the seed heads for the birds who love to stick around all winter.

Here are some that I have in my yard but look around your property and in the woods for more treasures! You can also use Hydrangeas that you have dried, Pine Cones, Grasses, Pods or all sorts, Cattails, Echinops, Dried Thistle, Poppy Pods,Dried Iris Pods, Sunflower seed heads, Black Eyed Susan and Coneflowers, Alliums, Clematis, Ligularia, Oaklead Hydrangea leaves and berries galore! Be creative and think out of the box to decorate your Thanksgiving table.  Send me pictures of your creations!

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Allium seedhead
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Clematis seedhead
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Black Eyed Susan
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Ligularia
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Oakleaf Hydrangea
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Sedum

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