The Birds Say It’s October

I’m having a hard time believing it’s October already.

But then I hear the White-throated Sparrows whistling as they hop through the grass and leaves looking for seeds. These adorable sparrows stop in for a few weeks every fall before departing south for the winter.

And American Robins don’t hang around my neighborhood much, but they do arrive in small flocks in October to hop around the yard while they wait for their turn at the birdbaths.

And in the mornings there are Sandhill Cranes trumpeting from high in the sky. They migrate to the warmth of Texas, Mexico and Florida for the winter.

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Double Dose: Orienpet Lily ‘Satisfaction’

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Easy-to-Grow Queen of the Prairie

My Queen of the Prairie (Vilenpendula rubra) plants loved our wet spring and summer.

Fifteen years ago I planted several of these tall, moisture-loving native plants in the corner of my yard to help block the view of a utility pole (which is now two utility poles), and then I promptly ignored them. Yet every year they reappear.

Because these plants like consistent moisture and do not tolerate droughts, and because I don’t usually water that particular flowerbed, I’m guessing that some of my plants are probably seedlings from the original plants.

The fluffy light-pink flowers appear atop 4 to 6-foot-tall stems beginning in early July and are very attractive to pollinators.

I’ve never deadheaded, pruned, fertilized or divided my Queen of the Prairie plants, nor have they ever been bothered by pests or diseases.

Queen of the Prairie is hardy in Zones 3-9.

 

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Brown and Crispy

After 30 days with only a few drops of rain, we finally received a half-inch on Wednesday night. Unfortunately it’s too late for many of this year’s flowers.

I was away for 10 days and couldn’t keep up with watering, so many of my annuals surrendered:

And I hope I haven’t permanently lost any of my perennials. I’ve never seen my astilbes this dried up before.

Thankfully there are several more chances of rain over the next 3 days.

The trees, shrubs and perennials better drink it up because soon a killing frost will come, and then it will be time to hunker down for the winter.

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A Bevy of Blooms: Coneflower ‘Ruby Giant’

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Flowers Popping out of the Pavement

In late August and early September before it got very dry there were a lot of volunteer annuals popping up in unusual places around my yard.

Several petunias sprouted from the patio pavers:

I’m not sure how these nicotiana seeds got transported to the side of our house near the air conditioning unit:

I found a clump of petunias growing out of the bricks behind my husband’s truck:

And I even found some coleus volunteers:

 

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The Perfect Container Plant

I filled my barrels with ‘Santa Cruz Sunset’ begonias again this year because the plants bloom for 6 months or more, and other than watering them from time to time, they need absolutely no care or attention from me. They are the perfect container plant.

Usually the scarlet-red flowers bloom in a narrow tube-shape like this:

In the last few weeks some of my plants have even produced fully-open flowers:

‘Santa Cruz’ begonias grow 12 to 15 inches tall with healthy, dark-green foliage that sets off those scorching-red flowers.

Most begonias are happiest in shade or part-shade conditions, but this one can even handle full sun.

 

 

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Up Close and Personal: Aster ‘Milady Deep Blue’

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Bee and Butterfly Season

Earlier this summer I thought I might have to build an ark because it just kept raining and raining, but in September there’s barely been a drop. Many of my perennials have shriveled up and turned brown and crispy, and most of my annuals are fading fast.

However the tougher flowers that are still blooming–asters, marigolds, zinnias–are decorated with busy bees and butterflies.

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The Return of Aster ‘Peter Harrison’

I’m happy to welcome back this aster that I bought on a whim last summer. ‘Peter Harrison’ grows in a compact, bushy clump just loaded with lavender-pink flowers.

This is a New York aster that grows about 15-18 inches tall and wide and starts blooming for me in early September. I missed most of the show this year, but I did capture some before and after photos. Look at all those buds waiting to pop!

And this is what it looked like several weeks later without deadheading and in the midst of a severe dry spell. It’s still going strong. I love that this plant is tidy and well-behaved. Some of my other asters are sprawling all over the place right now.

‘Peter Harrison’ grows in full sun to part-sun and is hardy in Zones 4-8.

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