Weâ€™re in the midst of the last warm days of fall giving way to cool and colder weather. Light and medium frosts have been visiting with hard frosts soon to follow. Itâ€™s interesting to see how the plants in the garden respond to the weather. Placement and severity of frost have brought an interesting â€“ ok, strange and half-burnt â€“ look to the garden that keeps me poking my head everywhere noting the changes.
A medium frost took out the basil, marigolds, and isolated zinnias. It burned the outer growth of nasturtiums and bushy zinnias but they have recovered with milder weather. The annual Sages hormonium and farinacea have remained unblemished along with Ricinus, castor bean, and a self-sown petunia. Amaranths are still in form owing their protection to leafy screens of Cannas.
Some of the bird and chipmunk sown sunflowers continue their bloom but my earlier plantings are finished. Itâ€™s causing me to think of extending the season by trying 2nd and 3rd sowings. It may be silly of me to assume every fall will be similar to this one and the previous two. But if I donâ€™t try it, how will I ever really know.
The real surprise has been Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’, otherwise known as â€œHoneywortâ€ or â€œBlue Shrimp Plantâ€ (photo above). Cerinthe is proving to be unscathed from light frosts and I will be curious to see how it bears up to a hard one. I had great germination and planted a large group in an island bed. Big mistake. The plants are thickly covered in wide glaucous leaves and the block looks like a mass of undifferentiated green touched with blue from a distance. I would have enjoyed them more by planting small groups closer to well-trafficked paths and walks.
The beauty of the plant is in its details. The bracts are very blue and protect the small purple, partially closed flowers. Flowers are nodding, making them convenient for bees and hummingbirds to visit. The plants are long flowering with older stems continuing to bloom while new ones begin opening.
The first time I encountered Cerinthe was at a garden open house. A volunteer was wisely stationed nearby to answer the constant stream of visitors asking, â€œWhat plant is that?â€ myself included. The plants are unique in their appearance and make a fun addition to the garden.