A couple of weeks of military duty in early August can really put a girl behind in the flower gardens, especially in the weeding department. Additionally, it is already starting to cool off here in the mountains of West Virginia, and the leaves on a couple of the trees are already starting to change color. Fall is definitely on its way so that also means work, work, and more work in the perennial gardens so that the beds can be cleaned up and ready for Spring before Winter sets in. Many of the perennials are starting to die back, so I cut off their dead foliage and took it to the compost pile so that I can have beautiful, black dirt come next Spring. I removed the summer annuals from the window boxes because they were dead, and I threw them in the compost pile.
In the full sun bed, there are currently five perennials blooming : Russian sage, purple and white Echinacea (coneflower), blacked-eyed susan, and two varieties of aster. However, there are still several varieties of aster that have not begun to bloom yet. I transplanted some coneflower, Russian sage, and the white phlox to the large hill located at the entrance of the lodge. Also pictured in this photo is Brutus, the newest addition to our family. He is a 5-year old adopted English bulldog, and we are so happy to have him.
In this mostly full sun front bed, I sheared off all the day lilies because the foliage was looking quite tired. As you can see, I finally have one red canna blooming, but I think I'm finally going to give up on this beautiful plant. I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with it. It reminds me of home (Florida) because it has big, beautiful tropical looking leaves. However, it does not survive a cold zone 5 winter under ground, and I have had a difficult time getting any dug up bulbs to propagate the next Spring. I am pretty tired of all of the extra work that this plant requires, so I think I will dig all the bulbs out and try to get red scarlet runner beans in this box next year. This weekend, I also planted some new mums that I purchased at Lowe's. Summer may be over, but, thankfully, the color goes on at least for a few more weeks. Although they are perennials, I have never had too much luck wintering mums over, so I just enjoy them while I can. I recommend purchasing plants that have many buds on them but that have not bloomed yet. The ones pictured here will probably begin blooming next week, and I will be able to enjoy them throughout the fall.
In the friendship garden, the yellow rudbeckia (brown-eyed susans) was winding down its bloom cycle. Additionally, the leaves of the day lilies were beginning to die, so I sheared most of the rudbeckia and lilies so that the aster that is in this bed and about to bloom will have plenty of space. I hauled off the dead flowers and foliage to the compost pile for more compost next spring. I can't wait to see the aster bloom. However, it is a somewhat bittersweet time of year for me. The aster marks the end of another growing season which means I will have to wait another 6 months or so to see any flowers in my gardens.
In the partial shade garden, the rudbeckia goldsturm (brown-eyed susan) is still in full bloom. I really do love this flower. It is so easy and long blooming that I think anybody could grow it. It is equally at home in the perennial bed and in a naturalized setting and a great choice for late summer color. The purple lobelia (cardinal flower) that I planted this Spring is also still in full bloom which is unbelievable. I am pretty happy with this flower, and I hope it naturalizes to fill in this spot next year.
Finally, this photo is of one of the budget gardens that I started less than 1 1/2 years ago. It has already filled in quite nicely, and I think that it should be completely filled in by the end of next summer. The lamb's ear and hosta in the photo were moved here from other locations around the lodge, and the liriope was moved here from a townhouse that we own in Arlington, VA. I purchased a few liriope from BlueStone Perennials, and the Itea Virginica Henry bushes in the background from Ebay. Other than very minimal weeding and decent soil, these plants receive no special care, fertilizing, or watering, so I am very happy with the way this perennial bed has turned out. If you love to garden but are on a limited budget, look around at what you already have for inspiration. Your newest perennial bed could already be right under your nose.
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