Monday, August 27, 2012

Fall Garden Colour

Black eyed susans the workhorse of the garden!
Even the seed heads will provide visual interest
There is a fine Irish mist falling in my garden and the forecast is for rain all day.  Hurrah!  I was away for the weekend and returned to parched beds of drooping leaves.  The rain is so welcome, since we have has such periods of drought this year.  I was visiting a friend in cottage area, and they have also have a drought.  It is sad to look out on a parched vista.  She was telling me about visiting Larkwhistle.  That is Patrick Lima's garden in Northern Ontario.  It is right at the tip of the Tobermory peninsula.  I have always wanted to visit and must admit that Patrick's book The Harrowsmith Perennial Garden, Flowers for Three Seasons, Firefly Books, 1987 was the inspiration for my garden.  I treated it like a bible when I was first planting in my garden.  His book is arranged by seasons with inspirational pictures by John Scanlan. I would take all his suggestions for a Spring garden before moving on to the next season.  In additon to his poetic and beguiling prose, his knowledge of plants is amazing. As the seasons changed I would consult his book to plug holes in my garden for colour and bloom.  My friend obviously found the same inspiration in his books and made her second visit to Larkwhistle this Spring.  She brought a 'mystery plant' from her garden  and received a plant in return! The plant just appeared in her garden, courtesy of a bird perhaps, and immediately grew and prospered, so it must be a North American native.  I still use Patrick's book when I want to find a plant to plug a blooming gap for a particular season.
Four little seedlings, now 4 1/2 ft high , transplanted in the Spring completely fill this area.
 I would have to admit that the workhorse of my Fall garden is the black-eyed susan  (Rudbeckia).  I have several different varieties, that bloom at different heights and which start their bloom at different times, but they are all in bloom now, and they help keep the garden interesting into the Fall.  Even the seed heads of the black-eyed susans have an important purpose in the garden.  Their structure adds to the Fall landscape and keeps things interesting. Once the petals fall, the dark brown pom-poms blowing in the breezes give a unique shape and texture to the season's changing vista. Patrick Lima includes them in the category he calls  'long distance flowers'.  And once you start gardeneing you realize how important long bloomers are.  He names phlox, sneezewort (helenium), heliopsis (false sunflower - a North American native),  rudbeckia, Echinacea (purple cone flower), Lysimachia (goose neck flower) and the new addition to my garden - cimicifuga racemose (black snakeroot) to the list of flowers you can count on for bloom throughout the hot August days into the Fall.
Get the book if you are serious about blooms for every season!  You will consider it a perennial bible, too.