Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Had to add another blanket to the bed. Temperatures are dipping into the 40's at night and yesterday they never climbed above the mid-50's. Still, I can't bear to close the windows. I'm in denial. Wrapped up in my cocoon of quilts I can refuse to admit summer is over but when my feet hit the floor on these brisk autumn mornings, I question my stubbornness and consider turning on the furnace.

The summer was unusually cool and wet. A real gift for gardeners, like gardening in the Pacific Northwest. Not a happy summer for water skiers, swimmers, and sun worshiper, but to me it was very nearly perfect.

Several new perennials joined the collection this year. Mostly late season bloomers to provide color into autumn. With a few exceptions, all the plants preformed well and I'm pleased with them. Among these new plants, two surprised me with their beauty and length of bloom periods.

Hybrid geranium Rozanne, I had heard was not reliably hardy to zone 4 but this year she was given a chance to show what she could do. A six inch plant just beginning to bloom when she arrived here in June, she crawled and sprawled among the foliage of taller plants carpeting the ground at their feet in blue. Four solid months and still no sign of stopping. In late September she blankets an irregular oval more than three feet in diameter, every inch covered in bright blue cups. Fingers crossed the winter will not defeat her.

The second outstanding performer was a tiny plant without a name bought at a local plant sale. Finally identified as a native rudbeckia, but one I'd never tried--rudbeckia triloba. What a charmer when it finally burst into bloom in early August. In the evenings, just before the sun sets, when the garden is darkening and colors blur, some trick of the light makes the yellow flower petals reflect the sun's last rays and the blooms seem to be illuminated from within. Of course this inner glow doesn't photograph, but it is something to marvel at every evening. Triloba continues to bloom and looks almost as good now as it did in August. The length of bloom exceeds that of old faithful Goldstrum.

Of course this is the secrete, this is why gardens are never really finished. Every year it becomes a challenge to find just one more plant that will exceed our expectations and give us so much pleasure.

I hope this year brought you a plant that surprised you with its beauty. Have a wonderful week and don't admit summer is over yet. Hope to see you here next Wednesday.