Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Profiles of My Favorite Fall Flowers for September GBBD

I am profiling seven of my favorite fall bloomers for September Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day starting with my perennial sunflower. This upright plant flowers freely in late summer and fall. It can reach 6 feet high and 4 feet wide. It will grow well in ordinary soil if it is not too dry. It requires full sun. As you can see from my first picture, I grow mine in planters, because they can be rather aggressive, so I like to contain them. Also, that area on each side of the arbor is very wet, and none of the shrubs and vines I've planted have survived there, but pots work well. I don't deadhead, but leave the seeds for the birds. I've had no problems with this plant until this year when it developed some powdery mildew. Next year, I plan to spray early with an organic fungicide.
Perennial sunflower Helianthus microcephalus
Few butterflies, this year, but hundreds of bees.

Gardeners either love or hate Sweet Autumn Clematis vine. Every September, it grows up a wrought iron trellis in my garden to create an impressive column of fragrant, creamy-white flowers which I love. It is a rampant grower that can reach a height and spread of 15 to 30 feet in zones 5 - 9. The native species (C. virginiana) is not as prone to self-seeding and spreading, but I further control mine by cutting it back almost to the ground after flowering. I monitor its growth through the shrubs on each side. I find this comparatively high maintenance plant worth the trouble; many do not. If you like it, grow it in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade.

Native Sweet Autumn Clematis Clematis virginiana

In summer, the silvery gray foliage of caryopteris x clandonensis 'Dark Knight' shines in my cottage garden border, but it comes into its own in fall when it blooms. The fragrant, small, dark purple-blue flowers are magnets for bees.This compact, mounding shrub grows up to 3 feet high and 5 feet wide in zones 6 to 9. Blue is probably my favorite flower color and this patch of blue in my fall garden always makes me happy. I usually give it some protection from the winter weather, but didn't last year because of ill health and I'm thrilled it survived the worst winter ever.

Blue mist shrub Caryopteris 'Dark Knight'

My clump of turtlehead has grown slowly because I planted it in dry soil, which it tolerates while preferring moisture. I love the blooms that bring late-summer color to my shade garden. This native plant, found in zones 3 to 8, grows 3 feet high and 18 inches wide. Chelone can be propagated by soft-tip cuttings in summer or by division or seed in fall or spring.

Turtle head Chelone glabra 'Hot lips'
My camera captured the bee before it disappeared into the blossom.

With my love of blue, I was excited to add light blue asters to my perennial border last year. Unfortunately, they did not survive the harsh winter. (I think that was the cause of their demise.) I am glad to say, however, that sedum 'Autumn joy' is as beautiful as ever this year.

'Autumn Joy' is a very upright, clumping perennial that blooms early autumn. It prefers moderately fertile soil in full sun. It thrives in zones 4 to 9, growing to a height and width of 2 feet. You can find it under the common name, Autumn Joy Stonecrop, and sometimes under the name, 'Herbsfreude.'

Aster 'Wood's Light Blue' and Sedum 'Autumn Joy' (Sept. 2013)
Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and
Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum hybrid

As summer blooms begin to fade, the daisy-like flowers of fall 'mums are a welcome addition to the garden. I add pots to every border choosing colors that compliment other late bloomers. I buy the so-called 'hardy' variety, but there's no guarantee they will survive the winter -- none pulled through last year. Chrysanthemums date back to 15th century BC and according to mythology they symbolize optimism and joy.

Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum hybrid

The entry garden begins to look like autumn, with scattered leaves and fall mums, even with the summer 'welcome' slate and wreath still in place.

The goldenrod Solidago Rugosa, my last plant profile for this fall posting, lines the edges of our fields. When it appears around my house I know the garden season is nearly over. I believe rugosa means rugged, and if so this plant lives up to its name. Bees and butterflies love its dense plume-like flower panicles. It grows in full sun to part shade, in zones 4 to 9, thriving in moderately fertile soil. 

Goldenrod Solidago Rugosa
I am linking this posting to Carol's lovely blog, May Dreams Gardens, where she hosts Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day every month on the 15th. Be sure to visit there if you haven't already!

What are your favorite fall blooms?

Happy Autumn Gardening!
Pamela x

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!

I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Pam, I like your early fall flowers, but most of all I like how neat and tidy your garden is! The entrance looks very inviting and elegant!

  2. Hi Pam! I actually had one chrysanthemum pull through this year, but it's puny. I do seem to be having good luck with a Sheffield Daisy, though--it's bigger than last year, and has a number of buds!

    Is it too late to try to take cuttings of the turtlehead now? I would love to have a couple more up in my lasagna garden. The bees do indeed love them!

    I'm growing perennial sunflowers for the first time ever in my new Terrace Garden. The friendly deer came and nibbled one of the plants down quite a bit, but it's not dead. The other one, just a bit up the hill, wasn't touched and has been blooming pretty consistently since July. I hope it expands! Yours sure do look nice in the pots on either side of the arbor.

    The Caryopteris is so pretty! I wish I could have some, but I really don't think it would make it through the winter up here--we're just enough colder than you.

  3. Kimberley, You can divide turtlehead now, but should wait until spring to take cuttings. P. x

  4. Your sunflowers are gorgeous next to the arbor like that! I grew some 'Strawberry Blonde' sunflowers that my daughter picked out this year, but the colors are really quite muted. Next year I'll try for some giant yellow ones! I love pretty much all Clematis, including the giant ones. That one must take quite a bit of work, though! I've never grown any giant cultivars like that one, but if I had some sort of pergola or something for one to climb on, I would!

  5. Pam, I love how many bees are in your pictures.

  6. that you and your Caryopteris are flourishing, is a good omen for the future, for you and your garden!

  7. The garden often starts to fade and look worn out come September, but you've got over this stage with some beautiful planting. I love sedum Autumn Joy, it really is a joy seeing the vibrant flowers. I bought a sedum for my garden last year, Brilliant, but it's not quite as bright as Autumn Joy.

  8. I think it's not big enough to divide just yet, so I'll plan to take cuttings in the spring. This plant doesn't show up in nurseries around here very often. Thanks!

  9. I think those are all my favorites except the autumn clematis. I am one of those garden who loathes it, and yet, I can't eradicate it from my garden. Oh well. I think asters might be my favorite plant. I'm sorry your blue ones didn't overwinter, but that was such a bad winter. I'm also glad you're feeling better this fall. Hugs Pam!~~Dee

  10. Pam-I love your giant sunflowers and your Sedum Autumn Joy is AMAZING! Your gardens are looking wonderful for Septmeber!

  11. You have a perfect cottage garden! Everything looks great. And you're providing for the wildlife too! I planted 'Sweet Autumn Clematis' a few years ago hoping it was cover a fence. It's still just sitting there not much larger than when I bought it. I think I have it in too much shade and will probably move it to a new location later this fall. I can only hope that mine will grow as large as your's!

  12. My favorite fall flowers are the surprises such as colchicums which appear overnight and give such pleasure or the blue of Eupatorium coelestrum whose clear and fluffy blue flowers are more spring like than fall like.

  13. Thankyou for the tour around your favourite blooms ! there are some cracking flowers there ! Your garden still looks lovely and fresh, which must take a lot of work on your part. I love your idea of colour coordinating your pot mums with your borders !

  14. Your chrysanthemum and sunflower look so stunning, make me so jealous! You still have a beautiful garden in this season.

  15. I do like a nice autumn sunflower :)
    Mine have been neglected in their current spot and really could use a little tlc next year. I'd love to have them looking as nice as your two pots.
    I think this was a bad year for mildew. Usually my phlox are free and clear, this year it's a different story. I think the nights were cool and damp while the days were dry and this encouraged it. My fingers are crossed for next year to be a little better (isn't that always what gardeners say?)

  16. The chrysanthamums are something I've never tried, but yours make me want to.

    and those autumn joys have such HUGE flower heads - I have sedum that go by that name, but are not as large - maybe our different zones!


  17. oh my ~ I just stumbled on your blog and love your gardens! Would love to see you share your post over at Fishtail Cottage's garden party - just uploaded a few minutes ago! I love meeting new gardeners! xoox, tracie

  18. Your first photo is absolutely lovely! Pam, your garden is such a haven for you to enjoy. I wish you much enjoyment of the autumn season in your beautiful garden. Thanks for sharing it with us! -Beth

  19. The perfect cottage garden, lined with a white picket fence. As always, oozing with plant gorgeousness :)

  20. Your perennial sunflowers are impressive, I have only tried annuals and I particularly like the fact that I can rip up the whole thing in November and get rid of the whole lot – they have surprisingly shallow root system for the big, tall plants they produce. If I was ever to try the perennial version I think I also would have them in pots, I would not want them to run riot in my tiny garden! Do you find seedlings all over the garden since you don’t deadhead?

    I love chrysanthemums too, and would have liked to have many more, I have one early and one late flowering. But at this time of year I think fuchsias are my favourite plant – well, they are favourites all year round really, but right now many other plants are finished flowering but the fuchsias just go on and on so they bring a lot of colour in the garden.

  21. Helene, I haven't had a problem with seedlings. They seem to spread through underground roots. P. x

  22. Pam, All your fall bloomers are so pretty and some of my favorites. Maybe it is the photo angle, but your Autumn Joy looks so big I thought it was an hydrangea! So glad you enjoyed Longwood. I want to make another trip to the meadow before frost. Carolyn

  23. Hi Pam, you asked what program I used to do the mosaic. It's actually on a website called bighugelabs.com

    I link to my photos on flickr to do them, but I'm pretty sure you don't have to do a flickr page to to it!


  24. Everything looks so pretty, Pam. I'm headed to Pennsylvania to visit my folks in a week. Looking forward to it after the 100 degree heat I've had in Southern California. This is the best time of year on the East coast.

  25. I love the front entrance of your house Pam...and I also adore perennial sunflowers and turtlehead... caryopteris does not like my garden, but instead I love asters, anemone.

    Your late summer garden is beautiful Pam.