September 16, 2011

September Charmers

September brings some very pretty plants into bloom.  We wait all summer for these charmers, and then suddenly they're here and summer is over.

I love caryopteris, or Blue Mist shrub.  It is incredibly easy to grow, takes no care, and brings out its jewel toned fuzzy blooms in early fall.  The whole plant swarms with drunken bees the size of small mammals all day long.
this whole plant was from a single stem cutting I took from another plant last year

the color is truly gem-like, a clear amethyst

It is very easy to propagate.  You just take a stem off and stick it in the ground, basically.
So I did that, and now I have Blue Mist shrubs in several spots around the garden.

another stem cutting, and I got this entire plant in one season

I also planted a gold leaved variety called 'Worcester's Gold'.  The foliage is quite yellow all summer, but when the light amethyst blooms come out in September, the leaves are more light green than gold, thankfully.  Even so, it's a combination that is a little bright.
'Worcester's Gold' is bright --- great from a far, a little jarring up close

Another fall charmer is chelone obliqua, or turtlehead.  It is supposed to bloom much earlier in the summer, in July and August, but the deer strip the buds and the poor plant doesn't bloom.
at long last, delayed blooms in fall

Finally, in September, when the deer have moved on to other snacks (their dining schedules are a mystery to me), turtlehead gets to show off its delicate pink furled flowers.

My turtlehead plants are at the back of the garden and are hidden.  Taller plants in front block any view of them from the patio, and I have to go around to the back of the garden to see them.  I'll move them this fall to a spot where I can actually see these charmers.

Perhaps if they are closer to the house the deer will leave them alone in early summer and they will bloom earlier (yeah, right, the deer would come up the stairs and into my kitchen if the door was open).

Then there are all the frothy tall sedums and the pretty pink fall anemones, and dusty rose hydrangeas that open in September and look so soft.

truly immortal, a re-blooming iris

And here's a return visit from spring --- iris 'Immortality'.

What a nice surprise to see this pristine white iris rebloom in the fall garden.  The buds are a strange powdery steel blue color, but the iris opens clear white.  'Immortality' will bloom well into October.

This month is bittersweet, knowing that summer has ended, school is back in session and winter is coming.

But I am charmed by the plants that shine in September to keep the end of the season at bay for just a while longer.


  1. Caryopteris is one of my all time favorite plants. They reseed and I make many new plants by digging up the volunteers. I have sent many to clients too. I love spreading around such a bee magnet. They look great in your garden. Calling the charmers is such a perfect descriptive term.

  2. You do have a charming September garden. I have tried the caryopteris several times without luck. Hmmmmm I do have turtlehead that doesn't get trimmed by deer. It is a cheery plant especially in bloom.

  3. Laurrie, Caryopteris is one of the plants I keep meaning to buy and plant and for some reason I never do. And at this time of the year I regret it. Your photos are stunning, I especially love those chelone.

  4. Hi Laurrie, I am green with envy! I so adore caryopteris, but have tried twice to get them to over-winter to no avail. It is interesting to read that they are so easy to propagate. Maybe there is something in this tidbit of information that might help me to get one to over-winter. (perhaps I could bring a cutting indoors?) I agree that Turtlehead is a super plant to have in to garden at this time of year. Next year I want of add more iris. I noted the name of your repeat performer. Have a great weekend!

  5. Donna, I have not seen any caryopteris volunteers seeding aroundin my garden, but I do get more just by taking stem cuttings.

    Lisa, thanks. Many people tell me they have no luck with caryopteris, but it's the one plant that I don't seem to kill or maim.

    Debbie, thank you -- I hope you do plant some caryoperis and have good luck. Others tell me they have failed with this plant.

    Jennifer, If you do try a stem cutting it has to be a stem tip from early summer when the growth is still fresh, it won't work in fall. Take a cutting in June or early July, pot it up and then you can winter the pot on a protected unheated porch or garage or basement. Then you can plant it out next spring. Good luck!

  6. I also have carytopteris and I LOVE it! My chelone isn't as happy as yours but I think your soil is moister than mine. Making it happy is on my massive to-do list for the fall. :o) It's flowers are so pretty.

  7. Caryopteris was on my wish list this summer, but I decided to wait until it went on sale this fall. Thanks for showing yours in bloom--lovely!--and evaluating it. I'm definitely going to add one for next year, sale or not. 'Immortality' is a beauty, too.

  8. I have caryopteris, but I didn't plant it! I have no idea how it got here, but I am glad to have it.
    I cannot believe your iris! I am new to iris, but I have never seen one bloom this late in the season. Yours must be so happy.

  9. I know that exact feeling. Here it is asters cloaking all the ditches and fields. So beautiful at this time of year but also a reminder of what is to come.

  10. I love, love, love Caryopteris too. It's been blooming here since June, with some starting much later than others. Don't ask me why. lol! Yours look full and lovely.

    I have wanted and wanted to grow Pink Turtlehead. It's really nice.

  11. Tammy, I'm glad to hear you are another fan of the lovely caryopteris. It's a stunner in long low rows at Longwood Gardens.

    Rose, I think you will be happy with your new caryopteris. Enjoy it and post how it does for you.

    Sissy, interesting that you got volunteers growing of blue mist shrub, how fortunate! 'Immortality' iris was specifically bred to bloom twice a year, once in early summer and again in Sept. - Oct. There may be other varities like that too.

    Marguerite, asters are another favorite of mine, but I can't seem to grow them well in my garden. So I enjoy them all over the roadsides this time of year.

    Sweetbay, the difference in our climates always intrigues me. Your caryopteris blooms almost two months earlier --- mine doesn't open until it sees me turn the calendar to Sept.

  12. I think I saw Caryopteris at the $5 plant sale a few weeks ago and now regret not getting it. It was in bloom then, too, and very pretty.

    Would you say it's impervious to deer browsing?

  13. Fern, the deer eat everything in my garden, but leave the caryopteris alone. That's another reason I love it!

  14. Caryopteris. Hm-m-m. Never heard of it! My husband would love it, I'm sure. He is the vegetable gardener and I the flower but he has been known to go completely ape over something the butterflies and bees like. I will definitely check this out. Thanks! We're thinking of ordering some asters from Prairie Nursery end of season sale. Also just discovered mountain mint in the Bronx Botanic Gardens -- same butterfly/bee magnet. And that looks like another on our to-buy plant list in the corner of the last picture -- blue star? Saw that at Chanticleer -- love it!


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