Adieu To August

After several rather disappointing damp summers, and a long cold winter, we have at last enjoyed a fine summer here, with surprising heat still in the sun now as the season begins to wane.

The long border in early SeptemberLike many people, we have been embracing the long run of fair weather, with far more time spent outside than at the computer – so apologies for a rather sporadic online presence through the summer. Now September has slipped in; the days are drawing discernibly shorter, and the sun has to burn through the overnight mists that have begun to roll in. The garden, meanwhile, seems to be drawing in its breath to put on its final blazing show.

Anemone September Charm and Campanula pyramidalisAnemone ‘September Charm’ threads through the blue Spires of Campanula pyramidalis; just out of shot Aster frikartii Monch echoes this blue in its finely rayed flowers as do the last Agapanthus flowers. Anemones ‘Robustissima’ and ‘Honorine Jobert’ are also in full bloom nearby.

Echinacea purpurea, golden crocosmia and blue Agapanthus

Echinacea purpurea stands in front of the Agapanthus, along with a lovely golden yellow Crocosmia that sprang up here last year; a fine change from the usual rampant orange flowers that arch out through the blues nearby. Butterflies and bees abound through the borders still.

Small tortoiseshell on Echinacea purpurea

Monarda 'Blaustrumpf' and Phlox paniculata 'Starfire'In the spring, I moved several of my monardas about the garden, as some had been rather swallowed by other planting. Sadly three have disappeared; one pale pink one that I moved, and another pink and a white that I left in place. The vivid red M. Cambridge Scarlet, and the lovely purple M. Blaustrumpf have continued to put on a fine show though: I particularly like the contrast of purple M. Blaustrumpf against the dark foliage and magenta blooms of Phlox paniculata ‘Starfire’ behind.

Pennisetum villosum in border

There have been other losses in the garden too; the dark leaved Dahlia ‘Twynings After Eight’, which was late back into growth this year, was then rather overwhelmed by a canopy of surging Gaura lindheimeri and Pennisetum villosum. Under this cover, the slugs tucked in with abandon and in a matter of days the Dahlia was competely defoliated.  Its skeleton stands forlorn beneath the tangle of stems alongside the crocosmia above.

Aster turbinellus is another unexpected casualty; and the greatest loss is that of our young Euonymus alatus, whose fiery autumn foliage is such a stunning sight.  I was looking forward to it really having found its feet in its third autumn here, yet when I hopped into the border to pull up a few weeds, I found it standing utterly lifeless and leafless in the border, with no visible cause for its demise.

Agastache Black AdderDespite these small sorrows, there is plenty in the garden to savour: among this year’s newest additions, Agastache Black Adder is proving just as beautiful as I hoped; fingers crossed my three plants overwinter well.

Stealing the show for much of the past month has been Helenium ‘Ruby Tuesday’.

Helenium Ruby Tuesday

Helenium Ruby TuesdayYellow Verbascum and purple Verbena bonariensis complete a rather striking trio with this beautiful daisy. Sahin’s Early Flowerer continues to bloom nearby, and the shining faces of Rudbeckia bring sunshine to the garden on the gloomiest day.

Rudbeckia GoldsturmAmid all this finery, the first signs of decay are creeping in: the scarlet monarda heads have now wizened; Eryngium giganteum, so stunning in pale silver, looms unpleasantly as bracts and stems turn brown, and Ammi majus does not die gracefully at all.

Eryngium giganteum; disgraceful decline

ember decay in the garden

In a few months’ time, when the vivid greenery and bright colours have faded and the garden is garbed in its winter colours, these structures will add substance and form, particularly sparkling with the first frosts. It is a strange transition at this time of year, when autumn seems to reach into the brightly coloured scenery of high summer and paint sepia brushstrokes upon parts of the garden’s canvas, leaving a rather jarring impression. I must confess I have now pulled out one of the sea hollies (scattering its seeds about the border and collecting others) where it stood rather awkwardly in the long border.

Foliage of acidanthera emerging

Panicum virgatum shenandoahSheaths of swordlike foliage catch the afternoon sun in the long border, revealing at least two of the Acidanthera are returning for a third autumn: how splendid! The late-flowering grasses around the garden, such as Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ are in flower, and the first traces of red beginning to show in some.

Shallots drying in the greenhouse

Squash in the vegetable garden

The shallots and onions are drying in the greenhouse; a few squashes ripen in the kitchen garden, and the greenhouse continues to overflow with tomatoes and cucumbers, though these latter have begun to slow now, red spider mites sadly sucking the sap from the plants as once again we were unable to keep the greenhouse humid enough to deter them.

Adventures across Sussex and Kent

A few days leave from work towards the end of August saw several hundred miles travelled for some garden adventures further afield. It was a lovely interlude, but we have come back to find plenty of work to keep us busy in our own garden; weeding, harvesting, preserving, sowing green manures, collecting seeds, moving plants or marking them to move in the spring…

I’ll post a little more on the visits glimpsed above as soon as I find the opportunity.


19 thoughts on “Adieu To August

  1. Your post reads like a seed merchant’s catalogue! Some lovely colour in your borders still. I really must get hold of an Helenium like that one of yours…Did the yellow Crocosmia just appear spontaneously then?(If so, would it please appear in my garden too?)

    • Thanks, Mark. 🙂 I love the Helenium (can you tell?!) though I’d still like a really dark red one too. Yes, the crocosmia just appeared, amid the sea of orange ones that had colonised half the garden before we took it over, so I’m not sure whether it is a happy accident or a deliberate addition before our time. There are some lovely yellow ones available to buy, mind.

  2. Ooh, I must look out for some of that taller campanula and that agastache too – I bought white agastache from a car boot sale last week, realising that it is something I have not grown before. I am pleased some of your monarda have survived – I seem to have lost all of mine that went in last year unless they are going to pop again and surprise me, which I doubt – do I try again, I wonder? You have lots of colour still, and I must admit I too have started cutting out some of the things that don’t grow old gracefully. Thanks for posting.

    • The campanula is also known as Chimney Bellflower, and can grow fantastically tall. I have blue ones and white ones, all raised from seed, definitely worth seeking out. It’s hard to know whether to try and replace something that died like-for-like, isn’t it? I’m tempted to try a second time at least, with favourite plants. It may just be that their time was up, or they weren’t strong enough to get going!

  3. I have looked up that campanula and the RHS says it is a biennial and half hardy – is that right? Do you have to keep re-sowing or does it self-seed?

  4. Some glorious late summer colour in your borders Sara. Sad to read about your losses but it’s all part and parcel although it can be perplexing if you don’t know why. Agastache ‘Blue Adder’ is on the wish list. I have ‘Blue Fortune’ but ‘Black Adder’ looks a more intense colour. Have you tasted agastache flowers? If not do have a nibble. Look forward to hearing about your garden adventures.

    • Thanks Anna, Yes we have to take the losses with the triumphs. I do like the Agastache very much – haven’t tasted its flowers yet, though I love the scent of its leaves, will have to try that.

  5. I went away for a few days recently and found red spider mite on the cucumbers too. They were pretty much over though – – lots of spraying with water and I seem to have stopped the toms being affected. Phew. You always remind me of plants I want to buy, Sara. ‘Twyning’s After Eight’ is one I must order. Dave

    • Pesky critters aren’t they? They don’t seem to have stopped our cucumber production much yet despite being quite high in numbers – and our tomatoes seem ok so far. Looks like we may need to re-order Twynings After Eight next year too, and be more careful where I plant it out!!

  6. There are always losses, but our sucesses make up for them (well, most of the time).
    You have a wonderfully beautiful garden.
    Lea’s Menagerie

    • Thanks Lea. Indeed, we must take the balance of loss and gain in the garden, as in life! Overall thie good definitely outweighs the bad, most of the time.

  7. Thos Echinacea photos are beautiful, especially with the butterfly. In fact your lovely bright images put my garden to shame, as it is already firmly shades of green and grey, I really need to fix that for next year! Bethx

    • Thanks Beth, I still have some work to do on the field border. Now that the phlox and monarda are over, and the later flowerers still not out, the only real colour is pale pink from the sedum at the minute. Definitely missing cosmos this year – a white one that sprang up there is lovely, but I need a hit of colour too!

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