Saturday, August 26, 2017
Last night the temperature dropped into the low 40s. At a different time of the year the decision to cover tender plants or take a chance would have been made. August frost is not unheard of here but it certainly is rare. An extra early wake up found the air filled with moist fog.
New England asters fill the roadside ditches and grow freely in other waste places. A purple flower catches my attention every time so we have this native growing in far too many locations in our planting beds. Roadside locations show this plant flowering on short stems following highway crew's mowing. Here the deer rough prune as they walk our garden paths. The plant's response is to produce more flowers on shortened stems. We have yet found the time to prune and the beautiful flowers appear at the top of tall stems. Lower the stem is covered with dead dark leaves. With care these plants would make excellent garden subjects.
My Great grandfather introduced me to both chrysanthemums and the notion that real men could grow flowers. Our cold location makes mums usually an annual plant here. These Mammoth Pinks may be an exception. Out in the garden they frequently winter kill. These located right in front of the south facing house wall have expanded after two years in this spot.
Nursery men find our native asters irresistible. From them they have created an aggressive plant named October Skies that grows rather close to the ground while maintaining the wild form of the flower. No pruning is needed here but a large space will be filled by this plant. Our original scrap of a mail order plant has given us two divisions and it still closes off the path opening in the stone wall.
Clara Curtis is truly hardy here. It winters over with ease and has taken over large areas of whatever planting bed where we placed it. Its appearance would benefit from some timely pruning and thinning. We do manage to weed out occasional intrusions toward other treasured plants but have so far resisted the pull to sell plants.
This resembles a weedy jumble but it actually contains treasure. This Pinxter bush has formed seed pods. Checked daily, we plan to harvest some seed at exactly the right moment and again attempt to raise some of these plants from seed. Our first attempt at this failed but this time we will place a screen barrier to keep out garden rodents. This native plant grows best in moist locations that would also support the natural growth of Cardinal Flower. We may have the perfect spot for these two plants to grow together. All we need now is to get the seeds to sprout.