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Fall 2006 Mary's Plant Farm Newsletter


September 2006. As I start writing this falls newsletter, there has been no rain for weeks with temperatures in the nineties. There have been showers in surrounding areas, I know. I have been caught in them and race home to find it dry here. If your areas are dry, do water your mature trees and shrubs. I've had to water the Franklinia and Stewartia in the woodland, but others including the Styrax look fine.

Today Sherri, Mandi and I armed with shovels, pitchforks, garden rake, loppers and chainsaw in hand tackled the planting of memorial day rose. I had planted two of these roses in the border next to the road. This area gets the run off of winter salt water from the road because there is no ditch. As the roses grew and spread, I would trim the long runners they sent out along the ground. To make a long story short, I had not trimmed them in over a year. I was shocked to realize the long runners had rooted, making an impenetrable planting 2' high, 5' across and at least 10' long. The rose was always beautiful to look at with its small closely set glossy green foliage, with absolutely never a speck of black spot or bug damage. Lovely clusters of small white roses sit atop the foliage in June. And it never suffered from draught conditions. For someone who has a problem area needing a ground cover that they could let go and only trim around the edges, this would be a good selection. We are keeping a few pots available, we just don't have the room to grow it in the ground anymore.

I just finished an article on native trees, requested by a magazine. With the government withdrawing the money from to control the emerald ash borer, it is creating more interest in other trees. I wrote of the Oxydendron, Nyssa, Cladrastis, Sassafras and Cercis. Most of these bloom and have beautiful fall color, are smaller of stature and should be planted more often. We have large sizes of all these plus the beautiful Cercidiphyllum (Katsura), which looks like a blue-green waterfall in the summer and turns golden in the fall. The tour group I had last week wanted to know what they could plant for color in September and October. There are many shrubs, perennials and bulbs for fall bloom. In perennials the fall Aster novae-angliae with tall pink, blue and white blooms. You can trim these back in early June and July if you want them shorter, and it makes the clumps spread for more bloom. There are also the dwarf asters of 'Purple Dome', 'Woods Blue' and 'Woods Pink'. Don't forget the lovely blue spikes of Lobelia syphilitica. Customers always ask for the red lobelia (Cardinal Flower), which doesn't have a long life span. For a low ground cover or edging plant, the Ceratostigma plumbaginoides bright blue flowers later produce a decorative seed capsule and the foliage turns scarlet. The Anemone japonica 'September Morn' and A. j. huphenses have tall pink blossoms and A. j. 'Whirlwind' has a double white flower in the fall garden. Do not trim anemones back during the summer, the foliage stays low with bloom spikes coming up by the end of August. The Arum Italica variegata foliage begins to show in September and will stay beautiful till next June. Chelone glabra is a beautiful tall fall bloomer for sun or shade in white or pink. Leucanthemum nipponicum is a fleshy leaved type of shasta daisy, that has huge crisp white daisies in September and October. A true perennial Chrysanthemum 'Ryan's Pink' has huge deep pink daisies into October and is hardy. Mums are hybrids and are not always hardy. The Begonia evansiana 'Grandis' is also beautiful in Sept. and Oct. with clusters of pink bloom. But its worth growing for the foliage alone. It looks like your grandmothers angel wing begonia, but is hardy, and is good for the shade garden. The purple or white of the Eupatorium coelestrinum, called hardy ajeratum is 2' tall and great for cut flowers. It does have a spreading habit, but will grow sun or shade in wet or dry. If you've never the tried the native Vernonia (Ironweed) you should. It can be used tall in the back of a border or trimmed back in June and July, as would a mum to make a shorter bushier plant. The deep purple flowers are beautiful in September, especially if you plant some near Rudbeckia 'Goldstrum' (black-eyed-susan). The 'Goldstrum' will bloom in September instead of early August if you trim them to a foot in June.

There are so many shrubs for fall bloom. Elscholtzia (mint shrub) has pink or white bloom spikes. Trim this back to one foot in early spring, the same as you do the Caryopteris, which blooms blue from the end of July through September. I love to use it in summer bouquets. For the rockery or borders edge you will fall in love with the deep rose-colored bloom sprays of Indigofera 'Rose Carpet'. Starting to bloom in late June, it keeps going till frost and is only one foot high by two feet wide, and loves dry weather. Then there is the Callicarpa 'Dichotoma' with its sprays of glossy purple berries, looking like they were shellacked or you can have C. 'Leucocarpa' with white berries. Both are beautiful in sun or shade. As I write this the end of August, I can't forget the Crepe Myrtles are in full bloom in colors of bright cerise and lovely orchid. And I'm not even listing the Viburnum varieties with all the varied colors of berries and foliage.

Bulbs of course are a favorite, especially those that bloom in the fall. The Colchicum varieties start blooming in September. I plant them every where in the woodland, and along edges of the border. They bloom in lavenders, whites and pinks. Colchicum 'Waterlily is aptly named, since it looks like you picked a big pink double waterlily from the pond. Each bulb sends up five to seven flowers. Sherri calls them crocus on steroids. Colchicum 'The Giant' can be eight inches tall and tree inches wide. We have searched far and wide with our sources in Holland to send us the beautiful and hard to find Sternbergia, which blooms large yellow crocus like blossoms in September. You can see their bright color across the garden. All of our bulbs will be available the first of September, direct from Holland. To have bloom from next Feb. through August, fall is the time to plant. I don't mean just tulips and daffodils. You can have alliums in bloom from the end of May through August using different varieties. Allium cernuum just finished with its pink balls of bloom. The Lycoris squamigeri are still full of bloom, and we have finally found a source for the lovely Lycoris aurea, in yellow, that every one admires here. Plus, there are many other new bulbs that I've found for the connoisseur or just another gardening enthusiast like me. Our September seminar will be: Bulbs: not just tulips and daffodils, but color throughout the year with bulbs. Saturday, Sept. 16th, 10:30 a.m. Reservations please. Our October seminar: Making a Hyper Tufa Trough. Instruction and materials to make a 12" to 18" trough depending on mold selected. October 7th, 10:00 a.m. $35.00 pre-paid fee. Class size is limited. We also have freshly dried hydrangea blooms and other fall decorator items in wreaths or by the stem.

Remember our fall hours are Tuesday through Saturday 9:30 to 5:00 Closed Sunday and Monday. We close for the season beginning November 1st, but will be field digging so call before you stop by or set up an appointment if you need us. Don't forget to check out our website www.marysplantfarm.com.

Good Gardening,

Mary Harrison 2006