We had an early and hard frost here in Vermont in mid October, which sealed the deal on many of the annuals and tender plants. It is always a bittersweet morning, walking out to sagging and slimy foliage, crumpled flowers and everything tinged the color of death. The work does become clear in that moment and we all hastily cut back, rake out, and prep for the winter garden. Here are some pictures from the first week in October, pre-frost, at Gordon and Mary Hayward's Garden.
Above: The New Spring Garden with layers of autumnal color. In front is the purple splash of Aster oblongifolius 'Raydon's Favorite,' with a gangly self-seeded Nicotiana sylvestris, sprays of white Gaura, scrambling nastursium, bits of deep red from a Gallardia and Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail,' complimented by the upright mustard hue of Senna hebecarpa, against the dark red backdrop of Viburnum trilobum.
Another nice scene and one that hasn't changed dramatically since early summer, since both the Persicaria 'Firetail' and Origanum 'Rosenkuppel' have been in bloom since then. Credit goes to Gordon and Mary for their great plant choices, these two, plus the delicate seed heads Sporobolus heterolepsis, are the longest performing perennials of the year. All three bloomed early and held on late, the colors of their blooms deepening into rustier hues as the season progressed. Here, late in the season, Anemone 'Robustissima' joined the stage while the shrub, Cornus officinalis, turned a ruddy tone. My other all time favorite plant of this past summer was the annual Ammi visnaga 'Green Mist.' Its foliage started out a delicate, feathery ferny green in early summer. It's bloom was lovely, a greeny tinted Queen Ann's flower, with that lovely wiry- nest like seed head. Over time, the ferny green took on a yellow tone that lasted until the frost.
It was an endless sea of Verbena bonariensis, though we only planted a few plants. All the manure, long, spring rains, and ample space to take up, encouraged each plant to grow long, lanky arms, full of flowers. Here it is paired with the Persicaria 'Firetail' again. This was a plant that got better as time went by and one that did not require any deadheading. Its only downfall was its deliciousness to those pesky Japanese Beatles, who turned their foliage into pitted, ratty wings. Once the pest season passed, the foliage rebounded and the flowers deepened in color. In the foreground, the yellow flowers of the bronze fennel are coming into their fine show. This plant had such striking foliage all summer, it was hard to imagine the plant could improve- and then it did.
Here is one of the Salvia confertifloras just starting to bloom. In most gardens, as I was warned, this plant did not have enough time to come into full bloom, but I often admired this plant for its structure and foliage alone. It has large, bright green, leathery leaves and dark stems. It always had such a presence where ever it was planted.
One of the greatest grasses of all time:
Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens'
Here is a picture taken earlier in the season of the Aster 'Raydon's Favorite' inter planted with Ammi visnaga 'Green Mist.'