African Blue Basil and Comfrey still attract bumblebees in late September.
September is nearly gone. We will greet October in only three more days.
Yet summer lingers in our garden.
Shorter days and cooler nights have brought color to our Dogwood trees.
Our Caladiums have passed their prime. Cool nights send them into dormancy.
The Caladiums began to crumple and lose leaves three weeks ago. But we forgive them. They are tropicals, after all; and they hate temperatures below 50 F.
We know the cool nights, sometimes dipping into the 50’s lately, have sent a strong signal that it is time for a rest.
It is nearly time to dig them and bring them in for winter.
But most of our herbs and flowers looks as lovely as they did in May, June, and July.
Here, near the coast, we have something like a “second spring” in September and October. And I grew up calling it, “Indian Summer.”
Although nights may be cool, we still enjoy sunny days of 70 and 80 degrees. Last week’s rain signaled an opportunity for new growth through most of the garden.
The color palette may have shifted towards richer, deeper tones now that the Black Eyed Susans have opened.
And our Pineapple Sage opened its first scarlet flowers this week. Perhaps I’ll remember to take some photos of them tomorrow.
I gathered figs today, and pears. There is pear butter cooking in the crock-pot this evening, filling the house with the rich aroma of cinnamon and cloves, brown sugar and stewing fruit.
But the Basil still blooms, perfuming the garden with its spicy sweetness.
Some of our Lantana now bloom over my head,and I’m rather tall for a Woodland Gnome.
“Miss Huff” Lantana, in its third summer, blooms at “head height” now. It will continue to bloom until a hard freeze kills the leaves.
The Cannas still open their crimson flowers each day, and the Elephant Ears grow larger than toilet seats.
That may not be an elegant way to describe them, but I bet you know exactly how large they’ve grown!
Colocasia, “Blue Hawaii” is supposed to be hardy here in Zone 7b. I’m debating whether to pot up a division to keep inside as insurance… This one spent the winter in the garage.
Geraniums still offer up fresh fuchsia, cream and pink blossoms in their pots. They love these cooler days and nights. Almost embarrassingly bright now, they soldier on as though summer will last forever.
Those who spent winter in our garage are most determined to keep the blooms coming, savoring each new day out of doors.
A particularly nice cultivar of ornamental sage, this has bloomed in the garden since I planted it from a six pack in April.
And of course, our Begonias have covered themselves in tiny pink blossoms; hundreds of them on every stem.
Their new foliage has grown in, replacing the pale winter leaves with which they greeted May. I”m a little sad now, realizing they have grow so much there isn’t room for them all to come in next month.
All of those little cuttings I stuck into pots with such optimism are now full fledged plants.
These blooming adults need new homes of their own if they are to survive. I am hoping to find some willing adoptive parents among my gardening friends.
Although this photo was taken a month ago, Begonia “Flamingo” remains covered in flowers.
I sent home a little division of a favorite Begonia, tucked into a clam shell as there was not pot at hand, yesterday evening with a beloved friend. We are sisters at heart, although she grew up half a world away, speaking different languages and eating different foods. Somehow our paths brought both of us to this community at about the same time. And now she fosters Begonias for me over the winter in her bright, sunny home.
Colocasia, “Black Magic” is supposed to be hardy here, and should survive winter with a little mulch over its crown.
And yes, it is time to begin the move back indoors for those tender plants who won’t make it through the first hard freeze. Another friend and I were chatting today, as I visited her garden for the first time.
We agree the coming winter will be as cold and harsh as winter 2013. She is waiting to buy perennials for her newly made border, knowing in her bones they don’t have time to establish before the weather shifts.
Flowers have grown into seeds on this butterfly tree.
This “Indian Summer” may be tantalizingly sweet, but it will be brief. Gardening friends to the north already feel the change that is coming.
And so I’ll begin to close the garden down next week. I’ve already been walking around and making plans; assessing what will be hardy and what is not. My windowsills are full of cuttings. I’m gathering seeds; pulling up spent annuals.
But it’s not quite time to bring all the pots back inside, yet. It is still September, and the sun shines bright and golden on the garden this weekend.
Bearded Iris have come back into bloom and there are new buds on the roses. Bumble bees still hum around the herbs.
New leaves are opening on the figs, and early mornings feel like spring.
I hope summer still lingers in your garden.
I hope a few vegetables are still ripening on your vines, and flowers are still blooming in your beds.
Pyracantha berries have begun to ripen near the street.
As the trees turn up the volume of color a little more each day, there is no mistaking the crisp scent of change in the air.
But let summer linger just a little longer, before it fades back into memory.
Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014