September may have the most beautiful weather of any month at Powell Gardens. Here’s a bit of the serene scene and the floral rainbow captured this week, starting with a view of some visitors taking in the scene from the Island Garden. I have to site a Rutger’s study: “flowers register an INSTANT impact on happiness, with lasting effects of boosting mood, enjoyment and life satisfaction.” Come experience this September charm at Powell Gardens.
Gorgeous gaillardiasblooming in a groundcover of contrasting hardy plumbago can be seen on the Island Garden.
The Island Garden’s living wall is full of late summer beauties including this Orange Carpet California-Fuchsia (Zauschneria garrettii). This western mountain native is pollinated by hummingbirds (like so many tubular, red flowers).
Encore Azalea Autumn Sundance(TM) has the richest pink of any of these hardy repeat-blooming azaleas. Look for the 10 hardiest on trial between the Rock & Waterfall and Perennial Gardens.
Like a pink “baby’s breath” Palafoxia (Palafoxia callosus) thrives in the space between the living wall and the path on the Island Garden. This annual wildflower thrives in rocky glades, railroad ballast and other challenging sites!
The double-flowering Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica‘Pleniflora’) is full of bloom. Many of us like the singe variety but it does not have the repeat bloom flower power of ‘Pleniflora.’ Look for this plant on the Island Garden and just off the dogwood walk.
Donkey Tail (Euphorbia myrsinites) is drawing a lot of attention on the Island Garden with its beautiful blue-green foliage. It is invasive in the West (cannot be planted in Colorado or Oregon) but is a behaved garden plant here.
The native Hardy Ageratum (Eupatorium coelestinum) is an invasive wildflower that has its place for tough, wet, low-maintenance areas. It is NOT a plant for a refined garden where it self-sows and runs. Use a native plant like this to your advantage and admire its blue late summer blooms that are very rich in nectar and attract lots of beneficial insects, pollinators and butterflies.
Just this week the Colchicums appeared like magic through the beds of hardy plumbago. This fall-flowering bulb has some of the most beautiful flowers but remember it has big foliage in the springtime so hardy plumbago is a great companion as it is slow to emerge in spring and by the time the colchicum foliage starts to wither it is in full swing to replace it!
The Missouri native Eastern or Savanna Blazingstar (Liatris scariosa) is also in bloom. This wildflower moves around in the Perennial Garden. Some years we can have large masses and then few the next. It’s corm is a favorite food of Woodland Voles which were in abundance last winter. We always allow this beauty to self-sow in the garden to stay one step ahead of the voles. It is a fantastic nectar source for Monarchs which are now in full swing of fall migration.
Ouchita Ironweed (Vernonia lettermanii) is a wildflower from the Ouchita Mountains of Arkansas and the most refined and gardenworthy of the ironweeds just now becoming available to gardeners. It has fine, narrow leaves and only grows around 2 feet tall. Look for this beauty on the east side of the Island Garden.
The first fall color is starting to appear in the woodlands around Powell Gardens: the White Ash (Fraxinus americana) turns pumpkin oranges to purples this time of year.
The prairie grasses are also starting to put on their fall show. This is a magnificent clump of Cloud Nine Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) on the Island Garden.
The Canada Red Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) also appears in purple fall color but this tree starts out green then turns purple through the summer, deepening until the leaves turn yellow to orange and drop next month.
A gray treefrog can’t match the foliage of this Sanguineus Castor Beanoutside the Visitor Center. This frog can be blends and marbling of green to gray but it cannot master purples of this leaf for camouflage!
The autumn fruit and cone crop is pretty low after the harsh summer but the Baldcypress trees (Taxodium distichum) are heavily loaded with their unique spherical cones.
The orange fruit of the Redleaf Rose (Rosa glauca) on the Island Garden captures attention. Look for the best display of rose hips in the Heartland Harvest Garden as they are edible and make great preserves rich in vitamin C.
The Red Sunset Trumpetvine (Campsis radicans) is in bloom over the wall outside Cafe Thyme. This native woody vine is another garden thug but can be grown where its runners can readily be removed or mowed off. Some of its cultivars like ‘Flava’ and this red-flowered one appear to be better behaved in the garden. We grow it because it is a favorite nectar source for our Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
Here’s a 45 second clip looking at one of our three hummingbird feeding stations in the Hummingbird Garden outside Cafe Thyme. It has been a joy this fall to dine on the terrace and watch these little miracles of life twitter and chase each other. There have never been so many hummingbirds in the garden as this year. The video is from the camera phone so not a closeup but captures the little birds, some butterflies and the background buzz of a cicada.