Switchgrass and River Oats

In Autumn grasses take a more prominent place in the garden. In our garden, there are two grasses that do really well: Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) and Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). There are also sedges (Carex sp.) that do well, but that’s a different story.

River Oats

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The Early Bird Catches the Bulb

Last week I placed my order for fall bulbs from John Scheeper’s. Normally I order bulbs right around Labor Day, so I was about a month later than usual. But it’s been a busy fall.

tulip suncatcher

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Remembering Our Own Age of Reptiles

For the last few years I’ve been inspired by our friend Pat Webster’s approach to garden art. (You can follow Pat through her blog Site and Insight.) Pat likes garden art that reflects the particular – the life experiences of her and her family, her forebears, the history of her own acreage.

Our new Triceratops before placement in the garden. 

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Last Plant Standing: Fall vs. Spring Garden Clean Up

My last post was about seedheads, but I was going to talk about the importance of letting plants stand through winter. However, I got distracted and forgot. So I’m reblogging this post from 2013, which addresses the question of fall versus spring cleanup.


One way to classify gardeners is based on whether they remove dead plant material in fall or spring. Mostly I’m a spring cleaner.

Birds and bugs are my primary reason. The other day I watched goldfinches feeding on the seed heads of yellow coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), one of the late season sights I love. These and other seed heads are basically free bird feeders. And the tiny seeds left on the ground will attract sparrows and buntings in spring.

Joe Pye Weed Sweet Joe Pye Weed seed heads in fall.

Plus, there are all kinds of eggs and hibernating critters in the stems and under the leaf litter. Let them be and you are more likely to have a diverse and healthy population of insects. This is a positive thing as it reduces the chance any one insect species will become a serious problem.

Some people  are very enthusiastic about the…

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Season of Seedheads

As the days get shorter, flowers become scarcer and the garden fills with seedheads.


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A Galaxy of Asters

Aster means “star”, which seems appropriate. They look like the heavenly stars that we see from an earthbound perspective. And so they are at their best when blooming in great masses, a Milky Way of asters.

Short’s Aster

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Reminders of Brighter Days

Today is the last day of September, which means that no matter how many lawyers you hire to argue otherwise, autumn has truly begun. It’s simply undeniable. And yet, should we want to deny it, there are certain plants that stand ready to back us up in our denial.

These are the plants that, once the heavy heat of summer has faded away, are inclined to pop up with a few more blooms more generally associated with the months of bright sun and longer days.


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3 Goldenrods for the Shade Garden

Too many people still think of Goldenrods (Solidago sp.) as a weed instead of a garden plant. Resistance to Goldenrods in the garden is built around three misconceptions: 1) Goldenrods cause hay fever; 2) they spread like crazy; and 3) they tend to be too tall and ungainly. (Actually, 2 and 3 are only partial misconceptions.)

Bluestem Goldenrod in the Lamppost Bed.

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Butterfly Brawl

I am a strong believer in listening to people who know what they are talking about. Unfortunately, sometimes people who usually know what they are talking about shoot themselves in the foot, often by insisting that they know more than they really do.

DSC_0714 Monarch
Monarch on Butterflyweed

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Some New Plants for a Difficult Bed

The Back Island Bed has never quite clicked. Lots of different plants have been tried in it. Some have worked, others have not. I suppose part of the problem is that the bed, which is in light shade most of the year, is infiltrated with feeder roots from the nearby Silver Maple.


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