Looking on the bright side, there are still many things blooming. There are many butterflies and a least two or three hummingbirds doing battle on a daily basis. Cooler weather will eventually arrive, which will be my cue to make some big changes outside. A good winter's rest will do wonders to rejuvenate many of the plants, and there's always the hope that next year will be even better.
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Off the covered patio and to the right.
There are some pots congregated here and there, along the banister. Some are cuttings I rooted but have never planted. Then there are the clearance plants I ordered online. None of them have bloomed, and they probably won't, this year. I think the tuberoses got too late of a start (and maybe not enough sun). Ditto for the pineapple lilies (which snails or slugs have been pestering for the past month or more). The white-flowered muhly grass is a small clump, but definitely growing a lot from when I first planted it. Orange bottle-brush ginger will not bloom this year, I'm sure, but it's doing pretty well, considering a late start and the tininess of the rhizome.
The umbrella palm has been very happy in its new location, but it has begun to flop somewhat. I might try to give it some sort of support, next year, but the flopping's not terrible, and it took most of the summer for it to get even to this point. I like the shape of umbrella palm-- like a living firework.
A different angle.
Some of the plants along this path have tried to sprawl across it. I need to cut them back, but they're not doing any real harm.
Further down the "straight and narrow path". ;o)
You can't see very well in this photo, but the trellis to the left is where the passion vines are planted. The caterpillars have eaten all the leaves and flowers, as I've written before. The vines are still there, but I doubt it will do anything much more until next spring-- if even then.
The other trellis is supporting pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana). It took a while to really rev up, but the vine is going crazy, now. I'm amazed at how far it has wandered in one or two directions. The flowers have started in earnest, too. Not an early-blooming vine, in this climate.
In the right foreground is the bog sage. On the left is tithonia (Mexican sunflower), which is getting tired and ugly, but still blooms. I haven't had the heart to remove it, because the flowers still attract plenty of interest from the butterflies.
The little stepping stone path from the gravel circle to the front lawn.
Kind of a mess, here... The bog sage, as you can see, is loose and floppy. On the right of the stepping stones are what remain of this year's seed-started daylilies. I've lost a number of them during the summer. Too much water, probably. However, there should be enough remaining plants to make it worth the time and money.
The flowers on the right that look white are actually the very pale pink flowers of the double-flowered rose of Sharon from my paternal grandparents' garden. These roses of Sharon have been a bright spot, this year, and I hope they'll only get better, next year.
A slight turn to the right.
The loropetalums have begun a late-season flowering. Nothing compared to their big burst of bloom early in the year, but nice, all the same.
It looks like a jungle (jumble?), and maybe not in such a good way. (g) Well, ok, I still kind of like my jungle, even if it is messy... Better to embrace the messiness of the outdoors than to try unsuccessfully to train and wrestle it into order, perhaps.
Ducking into the semi-shade garden...
This is a part of the garden that I think may be undergoing a renovation. I'm not completely satisfied with the use of the space, and I suspect that many of these gingers would be happier with a little more sun. Getting the right amount of sun in our yard is tricky. I don't want to scald them with too much hot, direct sunlight, but they might grow better and healthier with just a little more. Then there's the soil to consider. They like a humus-heavy soil with a fair amount of moisture in the summer, but in the winter, they can rot if the soil stays too damp. The no-damp-winter-soil requirement takes some of the partially-shaded areas of our yard off the list immediately...
Unfortunately, from what I've read, gingers might be better transplanted well in advance of cool weather. In that case, I might need to wait until they emerge in spring/early summer. (Some gingers can be slow to emerge until the weather heats up quite a bit.) I'll do a little more reading. Even if I do need to wait, it's not as though I have any definite plans, yet, anyway! There are one or two other small jobs I could focus on, first. (Just one or two very small jobs... (g))
Back down the path in the other direction.
Not much to say here... The border on the right side gets a lot of sun (which maybe isn't obvious in this photo, taken first thing in the morning, before the sun had gotten high enough to peep over the trees to our east). The one on the left is more shaded, though parts of it get decent light, too.
There are plenty of plants that thrive in full sun, but most of what I have planted here is only of short to medium height-- well under 3 feet tall-- lots of daylilies, but also purple heart, coreopsis, crinum, and so on. My only complaints for this part of the border would be that it could do with a little more vertical interest and late-season interest-- but the latter is a nit-pick, because there are things planted here that look good all summer (and a few of the daylilies are rebloomers).
The shadier strip on the other side presents more of a challenge. This year, we tried to address part of the problem by planting a couple more dwarf gardenias. If they do well, they'll provide a nice, evergreen backbone for the border. I've also been very impressed by the variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica 'Variegata').
I could've sworn I blogged about the flax lily when I first planted it, but now I can't find it, so maybe I overlooked it. Too bad, because I would have liked to have known when I planted it, and a "before" photo would be useful, too... Oh well, it was sometime in early to early-mid summer, and I believe the clump has grown quite a bit since planting. If it comes through the winter alright, I may try dividing it and using it to fill in the gaps between the gardenias. Because it has such attractive foliage, it is beautiful for months at a time, without relying on the fleeting appeal of flowers. (Actually, it's supposed to be evergreen, so we'll see...)
Though some sources describe it as needing "constantly moist" soil, others say it is drought-tolerant. I can only add that my clump of variegated flax lily has thrived this summer in a shady spot without any special care. (However, I did water pretty much the whole flower garden during particularly dry spells, earlier this summer.) It can suffer from rust, but so far, I'm more than satisfied with mine. (I'll try to get some photos of it, one of these days...)
Further along the curvy path.
The viburnum at the back is getting big. It seems to become infested with Eastern tent caterpillars at least once a year-- two or three times, this year. If you catch them early enough, it's not so bad, but I loathe those disgusting caterpillars. It's not a pleasant chore, removing them. Some of the leaves look a little crispy, right now, but on the other hand, it's blooming again... This probably wasn't the best location for a viburnum-- too much hot sun-- but its coping well enough that I have no immediate plans to try to relocate or remove it.
Late this summer, we've lost some large patches of creeping phlox, which was a disappointment. They were so lush and healthy-looking! They died out shortly after a period of very heavy rain, and I'm fairly certain that had something to do with their disappearance. Oh well. Fortunately, one or two smaller patches are still hanging on. Considering that I got my start of this plant just last year (from Mom's garden), it didn't take long to get to a decent size before. No reason it can't recover just as quickly. Some of it may not have died all the way down to the roots, too, so the "dead" spots may come back on their own, next year.
Not much to say here... The new arbor is still waiting for its finishing touches. One of these days!
West of the bay window...
This area needs weeding... Behind the clump of crinum (on the left) there's some of the swamp daisy. Everywhere I have swamp daisy growing, it's started to "fall open" in the middle, now. It spent most of the summer getting taller, but staying fairly upright and dense; now it's begun to open up and spread out a bit. This makes it look messier, but since I see flower buds, there's no way I'm touching it-- not until it has bloomed.
Near the garage...
In the back (middle of photo, stretching up against the fence), there's that mystery plant that has turned out to be an undesirable wintercreeper. I'll be removing that, this winter. Not sure what will take its place. Maybe canna lilies? Something with a little height, ideally, since it's the back of the border. Sun-tolerant ginger lily would work, too. Maybe a mingling of the two.
The red-and-purple-flowered bat-face cuphea has conquered a large area of this garden bed. It has bloomed all the warm season and will continue to flower until the cold nips it back. I'm trying to collect seeds, in case it doesn't survive the winter. This plant does need space to ramble. Otherwise, it just grows right over any smaller plants in its path. I'm sure that cutting it back would keep it within bounds, but that would probably require repeated trimming through the season.
To the south of the garage...
This year, the Mexican purple sage (Salvia purpurea) looks sooo scroungy! I'm not sure why. I cut it back two or three times, this summer; maybe I didn't do it right. Next year, I might cut back harder, but only once.
The tea olive is slowly gaining size.
The clump of pink/purple (depending on who you ask) muhly grass seems larger than last year. It has yet to bloom, but I'm expecting it soon. Most people describe it as looking nondescript until its late-season cloud of bloom, but I like it all summer long-- and even into winter. It's not especially showy when not in bloom, but it's a nice textural contrast to most other plants, and I like its low, billowy form.
From the back lawn...
The cannas took a while to grow, but they filled in the blank spot effectively. I'm not sure I'll leave them here for good, but I'm happy to have canna lilies in the garden. If I do move them, I'll probably try to replace them with something that won't take as long to get to size.
I do like the contrast between the large, tropical canna foliage and the tiny golden leaves of the 'Sunshine' ligustrum. (That ligustrum is a favorite anchor, and I'm happy to report that some of the cuttings I took this year have rooted. I'll be planting some elsewhere in the garden, sooner or later.)
This west-facing border is mostly past its prime. Some plants need cutting back (which will, with luck, rejuvenate them for next year). Others are just played out-- like the remaining celosia and tithonia, which looks dreadful but is still blooming... I've been leaving it for the butterflies, but eventually, it has to go.
Then there are the two sages. 'Pizzazz Purple' has done really well all year, but now it's gotten a bit scraggly. Tall, but scraggly. Blooming, but scraggly. It will die back with frost, so I guess I'll leave it until then... Salvia leucantha has only recently begun to bloom, so it is probably the best-looking plant, at the moment. It got big this year!
Here, you can see more of the expanse of "lawn" (glorified weed patch with the occasional spot of grass) on the septic pad. I have a long blog post planned on the subject of this area. Most of it is already written, in fact.
On the other side of the west-facing border, we have a bug-eaten moonflower vine (which still blooms well, despite the nibbled leaves) and some clock vine that has finally decided to clamber up the rustic obelisk.
I believe this will be the last year for the obelisk. I'll almost certainly remove it, this winter. Not sure what the plans are for this part of the garden. It needs a lot of work, and there are limitations on what can and will grow here. Ornamental trees are out, because of the septic field lines nearby. Even shrubs are not a good idea, out past a certain distance from the house. The soil is very dry in summer, so drought-tolerant plants that can handle hot sun are best-- but of course we're still in southern Alabama, so humidity is (almost) always with us. There are plants that can do well, here, though.
And that does it for September's delayed garden survey. Last year, I stopped the garden surveys in October. I haven't decided if I'll do the same this year, but if nothing else, I hope to have progress to blog about, even if it doesn't merit a monthly "survey" entry.
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