September’s Sumptuous Blooms

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September’s Sumptuous Blooms

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

September in the Perennial Garden means some chores: here Volunteers Amanda Stoltenburg and Linda Brewer cut spent flower stems of Goldsturm Rudbeckia before they can self-sow into adjacent beds. Mostly September in the Perennial is a blaze of late summer flowers!

The Seven Sons Tree (Heptacodium miconioides) is in full bloom with fragrant white clusters of flowers (you guessed it, in clusters of seven at each twig tip). Seven Sons is a Plant of Merit and a great large shrub or small tree with much ornamental appeal.

Rose-of-Sharons (Hibiscus syriacus) are also in bloom now and this is the glowing ‘Diana’ cultivar which is perfect for a white or moon garden because its reflective flowers stay open at night. A well named cultivar as Diana is the goddess of the moon. Powell Gardens has quite a collection of Rose-of-Sharons from blue-flowering ‘Bluebird’, ‘Blue Satin’, ‘Blue Marlin’ and ‘Coelestris‘ to Pink-flowering ‘Aphrodite’, ‘Pink Satin’, Blush Satin’ and more.

The Dynamite Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia hybrid) is in dazzling red bloom, nicely underplanted with silver Artemisia and white Snow-on-the-Mountain. See the prior blog on zone denial for more about crape myrtles.

Sneezeweed or Helen’s Flower (Heleniuim autumnale) is a glowing yellow flower of the season along with many in the large Sunflower family (Asteraceae) which includes sunflowers, black-eyed-susans/Rudbeckia, and asters. Sneezeweed is NOT an allergen plant: it was made into a snuff by Native Americans to make them sneeze and rid their bodies of evil spirits. You won’t sneeze from it unless….

Sneezeweed, a locally native flower has, like many native plants, been sent to finishing school in Europe. European gardeners have long admired our natives and selected garden forms & hybrids of them. Sahin’s Early Flowerer Sneezeweed is such a cultivar that blooms from midsummer until fall! It is a star performer in our trials in the Perennial Garden.

Some select cultivars of our native flowers have not performed so well in the Perennial Garden. This is the highly promoted ‘Henry Eilers selection of the locally native Sweet Coneflower (Rudbeckia subtomentosa). Its fluted “petals” are not that striking but maybe it just needs a different site.

Here is a wild strain of the Sweet Coneflower growing right nearby — its flowers are dazzling in this season.

Hybridizers are going wild with many of our aster family plants at this time. From purple coneflowers (Echinacea) to Coreopsis (shown) there are many awesome new sports and hybrids. This is the new cultivar Coreopsis ‘Sienna Sunset’ which has been blooming all season. Its flowers open burnt sienna and age to peach. The next test will be to see how well it survives our winters.

Lemon Queen Sunflower is another American native that went to finishing school in England. Its soft lemon yellow flowers show off well with the tapestry hedge as a backdrop in the Perennial Garden. Many of our native perennial sunflowers are garden thugs but this one is quite behaved. Keep wild sunflowers wild at the edge of a woods or competing with other plants in a prairie.

Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) has been absolutely stunning this summer. Garden Phlox is actually native to Missouri and wild forms of it can be bought from Missouri Wildflowers Nursery. There are many cultivars selected from this native and depicted is the long-blooming cultivar ‘Eva Cullum with pinker flowers than the wild strain.

This picture shows Rose Turtleheads (Chelone lyonii) a native east of Missouri. The top plant in the photo is the wild form while the lower plant is the cultivar ‘Hot Lips’ which has darker, glossier foliage and more compact form.

The dazzling Missouri native Savanna Blazing Star (Liatris scariosa) always draws attention when in bloom in the gardens. It will soon be covered by migrating Monarch butterflies as it one of their favorite nectar sources.

Snow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) is a very poorly named plant as it is native to the Great Plains and found wild in Kansas and Missouri’s loess hills. Snow-on-the-prairie! This plant is an annual but self sows just right to act like a perennial. We let it add a little sparkle all around the Perennial Garden. It is related to the poinsettia in that its upper leaves are colorfully edged in white surrounding the tiny flowers.
Hungarian or High Daisy (Chrysanthemum serotinum) is at peak bloom now. It is always a joy to have a daisy blooming now, this species is tall but can be cut back earlier in the season to keep its height lower.

Geranium ‘Rainbow’ never fails to take a good picture and is my and Perennial Garden Senior Gardener Jennifer Bolyard’s favorite perennial geranium. It has very nice rebloom as you can see (most geraniums bloom solely in early summer).

The large flowers of Colchicums (a bulb) appear from nowhere now. This great crocus-on-steroids-like plant is immune to deer and squirrels. Just remember it has big leaves in the spring so makes a nice addition with other perennials that are slow to emerge in spring.

If you think the season of flowers for 2009 is over THINK AGAIN. There are 100’s of species still in bloom at Powell Gardens, many of them at their best now. What better way to soothe away the stresses of this challenging year than to come immerse yourself in our flowers. I just read on George Ball’s web log for Heronswood Nursery that a recent Rutgers University study showed that flowers register an instant impact on happiness, with lasting effects of boosting mood, enjoyment and life satisfaction.