08 September 2010

Post Earl Beauty: All is well

As Saturday afternoon gave way to evening, I paraphrased an old expression from the 1970s "What if they gave a hurricane and nobody came?" Earl was pretty much a non-event for us; some wind, some rain, happily no damage to crops or properties around here. A few trees uprooted or broken in other areas, some power outages, but really, it could have been much worse. Thank you all for your good wishes and caring; I hope everyone got off as unscathed as we did.

Ironically, we had more wind on Sunday and Monday, of a more damaging kind because it came out of the west southwest, than during Earl's visit. I was pretty cranky when I walked around the garden on Monday and saw some of the perennials had been beaten around by the wind, by banging into other plants, but I soon got over it when I noticed some of the marvels that were happening.

Starting with the blooming of 'Sungold' buddleia, one of the most beautiful of flowering shrubs. Here in Nova Scotia, buddleias are not only NOT invasive, they are often marginally hardy. They will die down to the ground and come back fresh for some, but I tend to treat them as annuals, buying small plants each spring and tucking them into spots where they will hopefully be happy. Obviously, this one has been happy.

While I don't have drifts and drifts of Verbena bonariensis, I have half a dozen good plants from transplants this year, and I'm optimistic that we might get seedlings. If not, I'm sure a visit to my friend Terri next spring will yield some new seedlings. This is such a great plant, beloved of butterflies and other pollinators as well as by the gardener.

'Lemon Princess' spirea has decided to throw up a number of new blossoms along with some freshly gold foliage. I normally don't even pay much attention to the flowers on most of my spireas, as I chose them for their foliage colours rather than their blooms.

After years of battling with Russian sage, I decided to simply treat it as an annual, and buy it every year. I've placed it in the best-drained garden, where the echinaceas live, and if it survives the winter and comes back next year, great. If not, I still like it and will plant it again next season.

One of my favourite roses is the rugosa hybrid 'Polareis', which I bought at Cornhill Nursery about seven years ago and which is a spectacularly floriferous and well behaved shrub. It does get some aphids on its buds, but I just spray a blast of water from the hose on them or let their predators feast on them.

This is the season when perennial grasses are really coming into their own. Some of them have finished flowering, but others, such as the miscanthuses, panicums, molinias and schizachyriums are just coming on.

I have half a dozen or more miscanthus varieties around the property, not all of them clearly identified. Since this one came from Baldwin's Nurseries and is the earliest to flower, I'm fairly sure that it's 'Malepartus'. It was unperturbed by the wind, whoever it is.

While I am kicking and screaming about going into rapidly shorter days, I do like the light of September, especially when it plays on foliage such as in this garden. This is a garden in Wolfville that I discovered today; along with numerous low growing shrubs such as barberries, there are Japanese blood grasses (Imperata) and fountain grasses (Pennisetum) catching the light.

Although some of the echinaceas were battered and petal-bruised by the weekend weather, 'Secret Passion' decided to comfort me by producing several new blooms. It's not quite as awesome as 'Hot Papaya', but it's pretty close.

To go along with my lovely yellow buddleia, here's another late-blooming shrub: Caryopteris, or blue mist shrub, sometimes also called blue spirea. This is a small plant, bought this summer from a nursery that had brought it in thinking it was somehow a perennial (I think the nursery they ordered from screwed up their order). I love caryopteris, though it can be really slow to bloom here; its cooling blue flowers work beautifully among the hotter colours of many of September's blooms.


  1. I have not seen the sungold buddleia. I will look for that pretty next spring. I like the gold of its bloom. Yummmy. Another here I would like to grow is the Caryopteris. I have tried it a couple of times but have no luck with it coming back. Hmmmmm Maybe I will do as you do with some of these and just treat it as an annual. I do love those blue flowers during fall. I am glad to hear that your garden wasn't damaged by Big Earl. We were hoping for some rain from him but he was a stingy hurricane in that respect.

  2. I saw a yellow buddleia in another garden this summer and loved it! It certainly is a striking butterfly bush. I'm happy, too, to have finally had some verbena bonansienarus come up this year; I've noticed even the hummingbirds like it. Glad to hear that Earl didn't cause you any damage.

  3. I didn't realize Earl was to be in your area! (I've not kept up on the news lately...) Glad that you were for the most part unaffected.

    I love that Echinacea's color! My favorite is 'Hot Papaya' as well. I planted it earlier this summer and love how it changes so much from start of bloom to finish. And it lasts an incredibly long time, just as 'Coconut Lime' does. (another favorite)

    We are so terribly dry here, it's pathetic. Grass is totally brown and we're sure to lose some plants, maybe even some shrubs and trees, in spite of our best watering efforts. Too high of temperatures for too long, no rain, and lots of wind. The poor plants have just had it.

    But that's the life of a gardener, isn't it? I always told my grandma (who is a farmer) that I could never be a farmer because that whole weather thing would drive me insane if my livelihood depended on it like that.

  4. So glad you are ok and your garden not too battered.

    I haven't come across the yellow buddleia before. It looks lovely. The ordinary purple / blueish-pinky kinds are rampant round here, edging themselves into every crack-in-a-brick space.

    I have a spiraea for the first time this year. I don't have space for it really so I've put it's roots in a big plastic pot under the ground and am hoping this will restrict its size for, like you, I much appreciate its leaves - but I actively dislike the flowers.


  5. I'm glad to hear you made it through without any difficulties! Russian sage is a great plant. You could always take hardwood cuttings from it to bring into a frost sheltered place (garage/shed) for next year. Around here I can just stick hardwood branches in the ground for it and they will root.

  6. Glad all is well, Jodi! Earl didn't come our way, either, although it kept us off the boat. I love your secret passion echinacea! Only the really hardy ones make it down here. Fantastic blooms!

  7. So glad to hear that Earl did not do too much damage on his trip. I love your Secret Passion Echinacea. Just gorgeous! What a stunner your Sungold buddleia is.
    Have a wonderful week Jodi.

  8. Ooo...that 'Secret Passion' is stunning! Lots of colour left in your beautiful garden, jodi. :) And I'm glad Earl treated us so nicely.

  9. I have a Caryopteris too (on Canard Street between Canning and Port Williams) and it is doing splendidly this year. This is the first year it has bloomed so early. I guess it's because of the early push it got last spring.

  10. I worried about all you east coasters and this thing called Earl. I'm glad he fizzled out before getting up your way.

    Love your flowers and I too love how September's light casts a glow that wasn't there in June. But I still refuse to use the F word. LOL

  11. Oh, that Sungold buddleia pulled at my heart-strings Jodi. My grandmother gave me a cutting from hers just before she moved out of her home and sadly, because it was the peak of a very hot summer it didn't survive. I haven't seen it anywhere else around here, so it is lovely to at least be able to see it looking so lovely in your garden!

  12. I was relieved to hear that Earl was a non-event in most of New England and the Maritimes. For a while, it looked like it was going to be a much bigger deal, and I kept thinking about the furniture I left out on the deck and the screenhouse still set up outside in my Maine garden. -Jean

  13. Glad that Earl did not inflict any serious damage. I have not come across the 'Sungold' buddleia ~ what a beauty and yet another one to research :)


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