A Walk in the Garden at the End of the Month: September 2015

After a week of rain, the sun is out at least for a day. The forecast is for yet another extended period of wet weather. I took advantage of the warmth to take stock of the garden to see what is going on. Most assuredly, fall has come to North Carolina. What better indication than the blooming Golden Rod. These have grown up as volunteers at the edge of the woods ever since we moved in. They make a clear statement: “Fall is here.”

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The fragrance of the tea olive (Osmanthus fragrans)blooms has been heavenly, but the rain has almost completely denuded the shrubs. The ground around them is littered with their tiny white blossoms.

Just before the rain I saw several Black Swallowtail butterflies (Papilio polyxenes) flitting about. They wouldn’t cooperate with the cameraman and stay still for a moment, so you will just have to trust me. The parsley was coming back and I concluded that the adventures of the ravenous butterfly caterpillars were over. Alas, today I saw the caterpillars back, actually in the act of departing the scene of the crime as they had wiped out the latest batch of parsley.

In past posts I have included information about the chaste trees (Vitex agnus-castus) in my garden. One of its attributes that I appreciate is that, with deadheading of its blossoms in June, it can rebloom. They were cut back later than I had hoped, but now one of them has put out considerable new growth and is blooming. The bumblebees are back in numbers and love it. This particular one was grown from a cutting originally from a plant in my Aunt Martha’s garden in Chatham, VA.

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A few other plants are still blooming: Becky daisies, various garden phlox, ‘Anthony Waterer’ spirea, ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum, Encore azaleas, ‘Osage’ crape myrtle, irises ‘Immortality’ and ‘Clarence.’ and the annuals lantana and marigolds. I put in a few bright yellow mums from the grocery store to fill two pots until the pansies and violas take their places. There are a few buds on clematis ‘General Sikorski’ that should open before our first frost.

The ground is quite soggy from all the rain, but that is such a blessing after the hot, dry summer. I can really see the positive effect of cool nights and plenty of moisture on the grass. The edges of the peonies are starting to brown which means there are fall chores ahead. I got started today by pruning the seeds from one of the crape myrtles. I will try to do the same to my favorite ‘Catawba’ in the back garden, but I will need my Arranger’s hands to help hold the ladder. She insists on proper safety measures.The rest are just too tall, and I have made a lifetime pledge to refrain from crape murder.

For those of you who care about such things, the resident Writing Spider (Argiope aurantia) has captured another victim (unidentified) and seems considerably fatter.

Thanks to Helen at The Patient Gardener for suggesting this monthly review of the garden. Please visit her site to see what she and others have in the gardens here at the end of September.

About johnvic8

John Viccellio retired after 24 years in the U. S. Navy and began to dig into gardening when he could finally land in one place. He completed the Master Gardener course in 1992 and has since designed and constructed two of his own gardens. He wrote a monthly garden column for ten years and has been a regular contributor to Carolina Gardener magazine. John published his first book, Guess What's in My Garden!, in 2014. He lives in Stallings, NC with his wife, in close proximity to seven of his eight grandchildren.
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8 Responses to A Walk in the Garden at the End of the Month: September 2015

  1. I had a beautiful Vitex in my previous garden; it’s one of the things I miss most. It’s already storming here. My grandchildren are coming this weekend so I had hoped for better. Great photo of the golden rod!

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    • johnvic8 says:

      Thanks, Marian. Vitex is special for me in that it’s origin is within family. We will be in your area this weekend…sorry to hear of more rain, but I will never turn it down.

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  2. Christina says:

    It is good that some plants tell us more sure what the season is so we cannot delude ourselves for long that change is happening. I am now the very proud owner of a Vitex agnus-castus, after seeing them in N Carolina I just had to have one, the first flowers had not been removed from mine so no flowers for me this autumn but I can’t wait for next year, yours is delightful.

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  3. bittster says:

    Lucky you to have a writing spider. My garden has been empty of them for a couple years and I keep hoping they’ll be back soon!
    Funny how quickly autumn moved in once the rain came. I love the return of moisture, but fall…. I’m not its biggest fan.

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  4. Goldenrods are certainly a reliable messenger about the arrival of fall. One of these days I’m going to have to see a chaste tree in person.

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