I don’t know exactly why it’s so, but 2009 has been a terrific year for allyssum. Above is a close up of some of the purple variety, which grows in waves on the backside of the driveway garden. To the side is a look at the white allyssum, which reminds me of the way waves off the ocean break into little foamy edges as the waves stretch onto the shore.
Anyone who’s looking to duplicate this look has good news coming to them. While weather conditions in the individual season have their obvious impacts, this massive showing of allyssum came from one of the least bits of garden work I did all summer. Once I had weeded the bed in the spring and added a few annual seedlings in between perennial plantings, I tore open some packets of allyssum seed and sprinkled them atop the soil at the edge of the bed, and in between the other plants.
As the seedlings of that sprinkling began to emerge, I seeded in a little more to fill in some gaps. Since I tend to buy too many packets of allyssum during the course of the winter (they’re not seeds in February, so much as little envelopes full of hope, honestly) and received a few more as gifts, I also re-seeded at the beginning of July and also again in early August. The result of that is before your eyes…and I only wish (as I have many times about a variety of flowers) that I could take a picture of the way the scent catches me as I walk out the front door. Mmmmmm.
The imperial mums are branching and getting rather tall, some of the bud stalks now reaching above the top of the fence. Like the garden heliotrope before it, which towered above me earlier this spring, I can’t help but wonder just what’s in the soil in this garden bed that’s encouraging such growth. I really was pretty lazy about tending the garden this year and for my plants to be responding so very well to my “interested neglect” is a little remarkable to me. I’ve never see this plant grow this way before. I suppose I have those rains of June to thank.
Anyway, there’s much gratitude, as well as some anticipation: it looks like the first of these mums will begin blooming within the week. Those delightful purple asters are well-involved in blooming of their own by now, just about a foot away from the mums and the show will be quite lovely.
In the containers of the deck garden, things are beginning to quiet down a little. I’d thought the morning glories were all finished, like their companions the cardinal climbers, who seem to have given up the ghost after the string of forty degree nights we had last week. But this one bloomed in the last day or so. I was pleased for the backlighting I was able to capture here, since it shows off the red stripes so nicely.
(Here’s a little photography lesson for you…and me, as well: always make sure the thing you are taking a photo of isn’t the same color as the background. Note how the dracaena in this window box sort of disappear against the canopy of still green foliage behind. Oops.)
The cool nights encouraged me to start getting ready for the season ahead and organizing to see what plants I can try to save indoors for the winter. Not only do I like being surrounded with the growing green in wintertime, but if I can keep alive those plants that might reasonably survive indoors until next season, then my budget for plants in 2010 (!!!) gets a little bigger, eh?
Now, you may recall that I bought a Martha Washington geranium last spring and learned at the time that they winter indoors pretty nicely. I’d planted that with a pair of dracaenas (those spiky leaved plants), some purple petunias and white lobelia. The white lobelia didn’t last past the second week of July, sad to say, but the petunias have bloomed on throughout the season, even when the summer heat discouraged the geranium.
I’ve never tried to save dracaenas before, so that is the true experimental part of this project. They’re quite impressively big at this end of the season and it’d be fun to see what they might do when spared exposure to a killing frost. They are, sadly, exactly the kind of plant the Catsby likes to munch on, so they may not survive. I whipped up a spray of lavendar dish soap and black pepper, which I thought would treat against any plant-dwelling tiny insects (*) we don’t wish to invite inside, but more importantly, might deter His Grayness’ munching. If not, they only cost a buck a piece in spring. We’ll see.
[* This is, admittedly, a sort of weak defense against insects and I’ll be keeping an eye on this planter to make sure warm indoor conditions don’t inspire hatchings of one sort or another. I’m always a little hesitant about introducing poison into the household. It’s that cartoon image in my head of me and The Purrmeister on our backs, little Xs where we once had eyes, that makes me cautious. They are only insects, after all.]
In another planter, with the cosmos and margarite daisies, I’d planted a pair of small asparagus ferns, which I’ve had much success in wintering indoors in the past. To simplify things a little, I decided this past week to do a little transplanting, and swap the petunias out for the two asparagus ferns, leaving me free to bring the entire window box indoors, where it adds a nice bank of green to the corner of our sunny morning living room.
I also repotted this summer’s hibiscus, which has found a place on the sunny windowsill inside, along with the two marine heliotropes, which are currently scenting the Nest with their pretty purple flowers. Of course, once I’d accomplished all this, our temperatures warmed up a bit, but the short cool snap was nice for encouraging me to a little work now, which will serve all these plants better later on.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the garden, the forsythia leaves have begun to turn reddish-purple as a result of our recent cool evenings.
We haven’t had a hard frost yet; such a thing is possibly still weeks away, although one can never be quite sure. Perhaps it is a sense of nervous anticipation which is encouraging such delightful bloom on the annuals in the garden bed along the south side of the house. This may…or may not…after all, be their last chance to bloom and set seed to ensure that their species goes on.
In the neighbors’ yard, some Rose of Sharon saplings are offering a few tiny flowers as the season winds down.
Not far away, some calendula carry on blooming, pretending with their bright yellow blooms that they are little miniature versions of the south-moving Sun.
I’m a little late sharing this with you: September’s last sunset.