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An early taste of autumn in the garden

Photos courtesy of Lynn Hunt.

(Read caption) White Dawn and hollyhocks combine for an unexpected late summer display.

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What a difference a week makes. Just a few days ago the garden looked sad and bedraggled. Today several roses are in bloom and some of my perennials are back in good form. It’s an enticing sample of what is to come in late September and early October.

Anthony Waterer spireas are a good example. I cut them back severely after they threw out a few pathetic summer flowers and now they are once again mannerly rounded bushes covered with blooms. The clusters aren’t as large as those in the spring, but for this time of year, they look impressive.

My blue anise sage (also known as giant blue sage and Brazilian sage) has been a hummingbird magnet since July. This plant arguably has the deepest blue flowers of any salvia and is a perfect companion for just about any rose, particularly the yellow/apricot Jude the Obscure.

It's only supposed to be hardy to Zone 8, but since it has been happy here on Maryland's Eastern Shore for several years. I can only assume it doesn’t read books on horticulture.

My hollyhocks are volunteers growing in a small trellised bed that's home to three climbing roses and several miniature climbers. One of the roses, White Dawn, is a sport of the popular pinkish New Dawn, but it doesn’t rebloom as dependably. In fact, it hardly reblooms at all. So this afternoon, the sight of a single White Dawn appearing between two late hollyhock blooms sent me rushing for the camera. (See photo above.)

Of course, the butterfly bushes continue to be the most admired plants in the garden. Butterflies, moths, bees, hummingbirds, and those strange insects that resemble hummingbirds can’t help but hover around their own personal flower snack bar. (See photo on right.)

This year I’ve even seen goldfinches adorning the butterfly bush's branches like brightly colored ornaments.


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