Hello fellow readers,
As we approach the homestretch of the gardening season many gardens grow tired. Mine especially so as the poor things suffer from neglect. Busy tending to other folks’ gardens is my not so perfect excuse. Thankfully there are late season bloomers I rely on to lift the drab and weedy. Rising high are Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium) – a tall native plant seen roadside in sun or part shade that makes a wonderful backdrop. Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway’, commonly sold in nurseries, has volleyball sized purplish-pink flowers August through September on top of five to seven-foot maroon stems. Some warn they’re prolific spreaders by self-seeding. I prefer to say they’re robust, especially in damp soil, plus butterflies and hummingbirds love them. There’s E. rugosum ‘Chocolate’ with burgundy foliage that blooms white. New smaller varieties of Joe Pye Weed such as E. dubium ‘Little Joe’ grows about four feet and ‘Baby Joe’ only a bit over two.
Another deer resistant late bloomer is Ligularia, also known as Ragwort. Mine is L. dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’ with large reddish-brown glossy leaves and orangey-yellow flowers standing about three feet in part shade. She also prefers damp soil and blooms August through September.
Each fall I marvel over Swamp sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrowleaf sunflower with yellow daisy-like flowers. It’s on my to-do to plant. Many varieties stand a stately six feet or more, but ‘First Light’ stays about four feet. Swamp sunflower is another moist soil lover that flowers best in full sun, though part sun and well-drained soil is fine with weekly watering.
How about sun lovers like Sneezeweed (Helenium) which looks like small coneflowers in reds, yellows and oranges. Despite the common name, Sneezeweed doesn’t make you sneeze. Same is true of Goldenrod (Solidago) which has a bad reputation of causing allergies, but it’s ragweed (Ambrosia) to blame (check out a previous column topic Godenrod’s Bad Reputation). There’s ‘Fireworks’ which grows three to four feet tall and ‘Golden Fleece’ which I have in the rock garden standing a cute eighteen inches. Both are sturdy, non-invasive and full of brilliant yellow fall blooms. I’ve heard ‘Golden Fleece’ goldenrod, which is semi-evergreen, when planted in groupings can serve as a groundcover that’s effective in squelching weeds. A perfect addition for weary gardeners looking to pump up fall color in their tired gardens. Garden dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com