A Quiet Autumn: GBBD, October 2013

Autumn seems to be pretty subdued in these parts. Very little foliage color, and fewer flowers than normal. My theory is that many of the flowers threw in the towel early because it has been pretty dry since the beginning of August. And the warm fall has kept the leaves green late into the season.

Blue Stem Goldenrod
Blue Stem Goldenrod

Nevertheless, there are a few blooms to be enjoyed in my garden. The Blue Stem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia) still have flowers, though many have gone to seed.

Short's Aster
Short’s Aster

You cannot have Goldenrod without Asters. This year the flowers of Short’s Aster (Symphyotrichum shortii) have bloomed for a very long season, as has Aromatic Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolius).

Purple Dome
‘Purple Dome’

‘Purple Dome’ is a late-blooming dwarf New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) that is just starting to show its purple and gold flowers. I have it in the back garden, where it is not thriving, perhaps because of too little sun.

Aster seed heads

Most of the Asters, however, have gone to seed.

Brown Eyed Susan
Brown Eyed Susan

There are still some Rudbeckia flowers, like this Brown Eyed Susan (R. triloba). As you can see, though, most of the flower heads have only the ripened seed, which makes the goldfinches very happy.

Caryopteris Longwood Blue
Caryopteris ‘Longwood Blue’

The Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Longwood Blue’ is doing well for its first autumn. I’m looking forward to ‘Longwood Blue’ getting bigger and better in the future.


I have a little patch of Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides), an excellent groundcover. I’m a sucker for blue flowers.

Heavenly Blue Morning Glory
‘Heavenly Blue’ Morning Glory

Speaking of blue, the ‘Heavenly Blue’ Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor) continues to bloom modestly even as the weather cools. It was very slow to get going this year, so at least it is hanging on late into the season.  At this point in the year, the flowers can last until late in the day.

Pentas, Cigar Plant
Pentas, with Cigar Plant in the foreground.

Other heat loving annuals, like the Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea) are also holding their own. Pentas (Pentas lanceolata) still crowns my containers with bright red blooms.

Cleome – that’s the neighbors’ house in the background.

And this one self-sown Spider Flower (Cleome hassleriana), glowing here in the afternoon sun, keeps blooming without a thought to the coming winter. I wouldn’t mind having a bunch of these next year, and have been throwing the seeds around with that in mind.

Rose cassie

Finally, the shrub rose ‘Cassie’ still has semi-double white flowers. not as many as in June but enough to brighten the front entrance.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is sponsored by Carol at May Dream Gardens. Follow the link and see what other gardeners have in bloom.

59 Comments on “A Quiet Autumn: GBBD, October 2013

  1. Hi Jason, i am a sucker for blue flowers too, but the problem is we don’t have so much blues here to suck! Blogging made me realize the reality of the changing climate, that it is already with us and we all notice the changes. Colder countries got them colder or longer and we in the warm climes have them longer and warmer too. When i think about it, i get really scared for the future.

  2. Love those Pentas!
    One thing I noticed about your GBBD photos is the light – Autumn sunlight seems to have a different quality than other times of the year.
    Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!

  3. The Pentas still look as good as new! What’s your secret? My pots all look pretty tired by the end of August. It still looks like September in your garden though! Love the Short’s Asters.

    • My secret is this warm fall weather. Short’s Aster is really easy to grow and has lots of blue flowers. I’d say it is one of my top two asters.

  4. Still plenty to like in your garden, Jason. Another fine Solidago and I also like the shrub rose with its charming flowers. I saw Aster Purple Dome quite often recently and think it’s a very garden-worthy variety. The Penta is new to me and looks great. Is it fully hardy?

    • No, Pentas (Pentas lanceolata) is a semi-tropical plant and grown as an annual here. Purple Dome has been a little disappointing, it really hasn’t gotten very full.

    • There is a lot of Caryopteris at the Chicago Botanic Garden. My understanding is it dies back to the crown during spring but grows back in spring. But remember I am in Zone 5, aren’t you in Zone 4?

  5. I love plumbago as well! Mine spreads politely, so I am hoping for, if not a carpet of blue, at least a respectable area rug. Your photos remind me that I must try Pentas next year.

  6. Caryopteris has become one of my favorite shrubs, too, for late summer/fall color. Seeing your Plumbago reminds me that I didn’t include it in my Bloom Day post; the funny thing is, I didn’t plant any and have no idea where it came from. But I agree, I like this groundcover; hope it reseeds in my garden. Your cleome is lovely…and don’t worry, if you scattered the seeds, you’ll have more volunteers next year:) Happy Bloom Day!

    • You can get some surprising gifts from the gardening gods. For instance, I have a Blackberry Lilly and I have no idea where it comes from. I haven’t found Plumbago to be a self-seeder, it spreads pretty slowly – too slowly – in my garden.

  7. That dark red Pentas is gorgeous! I really should give that flower a shot, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it for sale around here though. Caryopteris is one of my favorites for this time of year.

    • Well, there is always the gap between what you wish and what you get, so maybe I am too hard on my home town. Not sure how different it is from other large US cities.

  8. I’m really glad to have Woods Blue aster this year, but I might have to get Purple Dome. Yours is beautiful. I have been surprised by this year’s very late blooming Sheffield daisies and Montauk daisy in my garden.

      • It reseeds freely here, but is very, very easy to pull out when you find it in a place you don’t need it. I’m happy when a plant like that reseeds.

  9. You have some real beauties in your garden~How do I not ave Blue stemmed goldenrod! It has been dry in my garden and there has been a shortage of blooms. I was surprised when I compared the Goldenrod bloom period to last years and there are no Rudbeckia triloba blooming either. Oh well, there’s always next fall! Happy GBBD

    • After having a west spring, we have had a dry late summer and fall. I think a lot of flowers have stopped blooming early as a result.

    • Pentas are excellent hummingbird plants. When I first had them in pots was the first time I had hummingbirds in the front yard. Before that they were only in the back. And as I recently discovered, they are a host plant for some sphinx moths.

      • I would love to see the Sphinx moth. I was going to add more annuals next year too since I saw so much activity on them this year. Plus they last longer into Fall and the Monarchs and Swallowtails seemed to be happy they were there.

  10. Your caryopteris is beautiful. I have an unnamed species that has long since bloomed out. And thanks for the tip about the Rudbeckia triloba. I have some from Scott, and I love to see goldfinches in the garden. Usually they come pretty late, so I hope the seed heads last.

  11. You know I love the R. triloba, and I eagerly await the finches this year! I’ve wanted to try the Ceratostigma for the past few years, but was worried it might be a bit too aggressive in my tiny garden…how has it behaved for you?

    • It’s been quite well behaved, in fact I wouldn’t mind if it were a bit more aggressive. Although it is just barely hardy here, so it may behave differently for you.

  12. Cassie is adorable. And I just adore asters. Good luck with your caryopteris. I had a fairly large one, but it died last spring in an unexpected late freeze. 😦 I miss it, but am not ready to get another and face potential heartbreak again.

  13. ‘Cassie’ has an interesting form! The Aster I recently bought, ‘Vibrant Dome,’ apparently is a sport of ‘Purple Dome.’ It’s in a spot with dappled shade, so I hope it will survive. It’s weird how green everything is into October, isn’t it? Our leaves are starting to turn fast now, though, with the sudden dip in temperatures. Happy GBBD!

    • Yes, it’s unsettling to see the leaves still green. We just had a cold turn in the weather, though, so maybe we will see some color before the leaves fall.

  14. I find that the volunteer Cleome are much stronger than the ones grown from nursery plugs. I’ve been opening seed pods and throwing the seeds around the garden myself! Our goldenrod and most of the wild asters are done now. Our leaves started changing quite early this year–August was cold. My morning glories are still pumping out the blooms, and they do stay open most of the day this time of year. Your soil may have been too fertile for the Heavenly Blues to have a heavy bloom.

    • You may be right about the soil – it has an extremely high organic matter content. Maybe I should dig a hole just for the morning glories and fill it with lousy soil! Are your volunteer Cleomes pretty much all purple/lilac?

  15. Good luck with getting more Cleome next year Jason. You’ve still got some lovely blooms going on. I hope they last a while for you yet.
    The temperature dropped drastically over night here and had the first frost warning in the car on my way home from work this morning!!
    I’ve noted your comment re goldfinches and Rudbeckia. I wonder if our goldfinches would like it. Happy Bloom Day!

    • I think of Scotland as a cold and frosty place, but from your posts it sounds like your weather is fairly mild. Things have suddenly turned colder here as well, but that just feels more normal for the middle of October.

  16. I hope you are enjoying them while you can, our warm fall has definitely turned against us this week and it looks like it is only going to get worse! I think fall is going to be a little subdued too.

  17. I think I need to add Goldenrod to my garden, I keep seeing images of it, reading about it – I call it fate 🙂 Great to see your garden in autumn – still plenty to enjoy out there

    • Goldenrod is a great plant, and people don’t need to be afraid it will overwhelm everything else. The Blue Stem is a great species, as is the Anise Scented (S. odora).

  18. You still have some nice color going on in your gardens especially your Morning Glory which are beautiful. The fall season is a little behind this year here as well but the foliage is now starting to turn into an array of colors. It is just about upon us.

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