Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Annual Finale

We had a frost advisory the past two nights in east central Illinois, even though there wasn't frost in our yard here in tree-protected southeast Urbana. But it was a sure sign of things to come. We've taken in the houseplants now (much to the dismay of kitties who had gotten used to stretching out on the empty plant tables), and the neighborhood trees are starting to show early signs of leaf color. It's getting darker sooner now that the autumn equinox has passed, of course, and the angle of the sunlight has changed and yellowed. So far, there haven't been the usual fall rains, however, and some of these sunny cool days are quite a delight.
It's always interesting this time of year to see which annuals faired the best and the longest over a particular summer. So I thought I'd take a finale set of photos. The marigolds weren't as full-flowering this year as they have been in the past, so I was surprised to find them looking good this late.
The Victoria blue salvia, on the other hand, have been blooming their hearts out all summer long and show no signs of stopping anytime soon. Some annuals do keep going after the first light frosts. As far as the first to succumb, surely it will be the impatiens, but they've had a good long and full run this time, much to my surprise -- as long as they're watered faithfully, they can evidentally take a lot of heat.
The lantanas often take their time blooming well and don't really reach their full potential here, but this year they loved the heat advisories and high humidity. That reminded me that they were basically perennials (and almost weeds!) in my mother's garden in Tampa, Florida, years ago. There are so many nice two-tone varieties now -- very cheerful.

But it is the red salvia that have truly outdone themselves this year. I think I just put in one six-pack, three in each of the containers at the head of the front walk, but they look like a jungle of fire!
And yet another salvia, the blue and black from Brazil, has grown a lot from one small start in April, and its charming and unusual flowers continue attracting hummingbirds.

The easy and reliable "wave" petunias are still holding their own too, especially here in a slightly cooler and shadier area than the front pots.

There are still some perennials blooming too, although this isn't really a peak time for them. Sedums are undemanding and reliable plants that propagate easily from a single leaf, and they bloom and hold their color well as the nights cool. Here's a nice one:

The fall-blooming Japanese anemones are a lovely bunch. There are pink and white ones and a few doubles as well. They are tall and can spread a bit, but I like them anyway.

I don't happen to have any chrysanthemums (can never remember the "new" name for them) this year, but I have been enjoying the huge colorful pots of them at the local grocery stores. Besides mums and pumpkins, how could it be fall without fall asters?
There are a few other perennials on right now, including the toad lilies in the north yard, the purple dwarf butterfly bush, and some pink hydrangeas. But blue perennials aren't common in the fall, so I especially like the little leadwort with the long name, Cerastostigma plumbaginoides.
Well, that's about it for now. Next stop will probably be photos of fall leaf color around town ... and then snow pics! Had to happen ... What's still blooming in your yard?

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