Blooms of Late September

When we returned from vacation a week ago the garden was looking a bit neglected. The grass was overgrown, perennials were flopping and needed rectification. This past weekend I started getting things back into proper order, but also took stock of our autumn blooms.

Aromatic Aster
Aromatic Aster

Of course, autumn is about asters, and I have many species of wild asters blooming. Without a doubt my favorite is Aromatic Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolius), which is both floriferous and nicely compact. This is a pleasant change from the many asters that tend to be rather rangy.

Short's Aster
Short’s Aster. It’s more of a sky blue compared to Aromatic Aster’s violet blue.

Then there is Short’s Aster (Symphyotrichum shortii), also with abundant blue flowers though tending to need cutting back to keep it in bounds.

Brown Eyed Susan, New England Aster
Brown Eyed Susan with New England Aster in the foreground.

Everybody knows New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae). Here it is blooming in the foreground with Brown Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba).  I love R. triloba for its adaptable nature, ease of care, long period of bloom, and clouds of small, orange-yellow flowers .

Big Leaf Aster
Big Leaf Aster. Grows in dry shade and can make a nice groundcover.

Then there are a whole bunch of asters that are loved by aster fanatics but look rather weedy to most people who are immune to the charms of their subtle but fascinating distinctions: Big Leaf Aster (Symphiotrichum macrophyllum), Crooked Stem Aster (Symphyotrichum prenanthoides), Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum) etc., etc.. I have many of these.

Blue Stem Goldenrod
Blue Stem Goldenrod

The Goldenrods (Solidago) are another seasonal stalwart. (And please remember that it is ragweed, not Goldenrods, that causes hay fever.) The best goldenrod in my garden is Blue Stem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia), with 2-3 foot arching wands of tiny golden flowers on (as you might expect) blue stems.

'Darlow's Enigma' rose
‘Darlow’s Enigma’ blooming on our back arbor.

The ‘Cassie’ and ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ roses are having a final flush of blooms.


A really terrific ground cover that comes into its glory at this time of year is plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides).  Are those blue flowers gorgeous or what? This plant was considered only marginally hardy in the Chicago area, but now with the warming weather it Broseems to have no trouble making it through our winters.

Caryopteris 'Longwood Blue'
Caryopteris ‘Longwood Blue’ with Orange Coneflower in the background.

All these are old standbys in my garden. There are some newcomers as well. Caryopteris ‘Longwood Blue’ is blooming for the first time, and I definitely like the clusters of delicate blue flowers.

Sedum 'Matronna'
Sedum ”Matrona’

I’m also pleased with Sedum spectabile ‘Matrona’.

Morning Glory 'Heavenly Blue'
Morning Glory ‘Heavenly Blue’

2013-09-22 12.46.03

This year I grew Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor) ‘Heavenly Blue’ up my new tuteur, It covered the tuteur well enough with its heart-shaped leaves. The flowers, however, were rather sparse.

Fennel and Mexican Sunflower
Fennel and Mexican Sunflower

I like this bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), and it combines well with the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia), which is still pumping out blooms.

What are your favorite autumn flowers?

45 Comments on “Blooms of Late September

  1. I have two favorite flowers that start flowering in late summer and continue into early fall. These are Cimicifuga ‘Brunette’ or Branched Bugbane and dahlias. I like the bugbane because it grows very tall – 7′ – doesn’t require staking; has fragrant white flowers and it attracts lots of bees. Dahlias are so rewarding because they produce so many blooms over such a long period. More gardeners should try growing them. They come in thousands of different colors and sizes, cost relatively little, and provide many blooms for bouquets.

    • I planted a bugbane before going on vacation, it looks like it suffered while I was gone. I will move it to a spot that is more moist. I have seen lots of them growing beautifully at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the fragrance can be really nice.

  2. I love that sky blue aster- Asters do generally tend to be messy in their growth, but lovely for their colour late in the year. We have a bright pink one about to bloom, but I think my favourite autumn flowers are the Plumbago. I’ve got several spots where it has spread well, and the leaf colour as the nights gets colder is an added bonus.

    • I’ve learned to lots of cutting back with some asters, and others I plant only where conditions are more challenging – to keep them from getting too exuberant.

  3. The heat of this summer seems to have retarted the flowers of most of my Asters, only those with lots of irrigation have flowered well. I like your selection.

    • Asters have done well this year for me, the goldenrods less so. S. caesia is good but some others like S. odorata have bloomed very sparsely.

  4. Aha I learned something new! 😀 About Goldenrods. They are found in the wild here. 🙂 The morning glory vine is gorgeous, by the way. I am thinking of getting a pot for our new place, I wonder if it will live outdoor in winter…

    • I’ve grown Heavenly Blue Morning Glory for many years in several locations in the Seattle area. It is an annual here. I have never had it overwinter or self seed. It does not spread like its cousin, the field bindweed. It does best in an eastern or northern exposure.

  5. I’m not a huge fan of blue flowers but those heavenly blue morning glories are a thing of beauty!
    I have a new word to look up today thanks to you..thank you! I’ve never seen this one: tuteur!
    Great post and welcome back home!

    • Every time I’ve grown Heavenly Blue before this year it has flowered profusely. I wonder if mine never recovered from the cool spring and late start it got this year.

  6. I love your asters – and really appreciate your naming the big leaf aster. It is everywhere in my area, but I couldn’t decide which aster it was after looking in my wildflower book.

  7. You have a huge collection of plants and I always enjoy reading about what is happening in your garden. Will have to look up plumbago as I’m a fan of blue flowers.

    • Definitely check out the plumbago (sounds like a back injury, doesn’t it?). I think it is originally from Africa. It emerges really late so combines well with spring bulbs.

  8. Asters are definitely a must and wouldn’t they look stunning next to the Tithonia which I’m mad about by the way. Plumbago is delightful indeed. So many people complain that there are hardly any flowers in their gardens right now…doesn’ have to be, does it 😉

    • Tithonia with the Asters, yes, why didn’t I think of that? Orange and blue go so well together, IMO. Why is it that so many people forget about fall when they buy their plants?

  9. I remember that you are a real aster fanatic, and I have come around to your way of thinking. But enough about asters- is the bronze fennel always that size? Somehow I pictured it smaller and more restrained. Right now, I’m loving my asters, as well as my pink turtleheads and some the tall white ones that are finally doing something after 2 years of just sitting there. Swamp sunflowers are on the horizon – it won’t be long now.

  10. Wow, asters already. I have a huge overgrown bunch of them (they’re taking over the sidewalk in the back) but they won’t bloom until next month, or maybe it’s November, I forget, they are the same color as your aromatics but obviously a different variety. I love the sedum too, and so do the bees. The fennel is lovely.

  11. I like the plumbago. It would look great under some yellow or orange flowers-maybe brown eyed susans. I’ve read that it’s “perfectly hardy” but I’ve never grown it. I wonder if it would take 20-25 below zero.

  12. Loving your fall garden. My asters are really slow to bloom this year. Still waiting on my Georgia asters to open. I’ve never thought about putting bronze fennel with Mexican sunflower. The results are fabulous!

  13. Things look great there. How do you keep track of all the asters?! There are white ones all over the fields here and I wish someday I could figure them all out. They’re such carefree plants. I bet it’s just a matter of time before someone makes them into the next breeding craze!

  14. I’m not a huge fan of the Asters–but fellow bloggers like you are doing a great sales job! I can’t really say why, but they’re starting to growing on me. Love that last shot of the Fennel and Mexican Sunflowers! Your Morning Glories look great, too!

    • If you were to try one aster, I would say go with S. oblongifolius. I lover the color, they have tons of flowers, drought tolerant, and they don’t get too big. They do need sun, though.

  15. Jason. asters and sedum are really autumn plants, flowering late in fall. Yours blue one are pretty! And I love these Plumbago, I have no them, nice!

  16. Asters just make me happy at this time of year, and yours are pretties! But I do love that plumbago too, what a shot of blue. I’m going to find a spot for bronze fennel next year — I really like its see-through structure combined with bright sturdy flowers like the orange sunflower.

    • Actually now I think it is just regular old fennel, but you are right it manages to be both dramatic and wispy enough to see through. It won’t make it through our winters, but I think I’ll keep planting it.

  17. Love this post! There is something so delightful about the late summer garden. My Echinacea clumps warm my heart, and the Artemisia and Lamb’s Ears practically glow. My Autumn Joy sedum is coming but I’m interested in your Matrona. How tall! I’ll try again with Rudbeckia (we had a dry spell that apparently sent it packing last year) and I simply must get some Asters! It is dry, hot, and then very cold in my Zone 3 garden but that’s half the fun: finding the stalwarts that want to stick around and even flourish. Thanks for a truly inspiring post. ~Gina

  18. I have been away from blog world for a long time and thus lots to catch up with your blog. Beautiful blooms. How do you make sure that they bloom so profusely? All mine are sporadic — they can be profuse or not but depends upon year. Any kind of aster is my favorite. And wild asters grow in my garden, don’t know where they came from!

  19. What are the commom names of your blue asters? I have “October Sky” and “Monch” blooming in my garden at the moment. “October Sky” is blooming abundantly, falling over all its neighbors and just having a wild time. When I walked past them yesterday, the bees were having a feast and making a lot of noise.

    • The common names are aromatic aster and short’s aster. October Sky is a variety of aromatic aster. Monch is a variety of Aster frikartii, I think. The bees and butterflies do love asters, whatever they are called.

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