Mild October’s Bounty: Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day October 2013

– Posted in: What's up/blooming

This has been a very mild fall. We’ve had the occasional skin-of-the-teeth frost, which means some frost on the back lawn, but not enough to touch the plants in a raised bed, or the stone floor of the front porch, or the back deck, which is a floor above ground level. As a result, a lot of plants that usually would have been long gone are still blooming happily.

'Mingus Toni' dahlia is a gaudy mixture of pink and cream.

This ‘Mingus Toni’ dahlia is lucky to be blooming so late into autumn.

I blame the relatively cool summer for the reason my ‘Mingus Toni’ dahlia didn’t even start blooming until the third week of September. I’ve gotten to enjoy several blooms since then. I had thought that growing them in pots would help provide some of the warmth dahlias need to thrive. My other dahlia never did bloom. Maybe they need bigger pots, or more consistent feeding. Maybe dahlias just don’t like me.
Delphinium 'Bellamosum' is a dark blue flower for your garden

‘Bellamosum’ delphinium backlit by the sun.

My sister gave me two delphinium seedlings from her surplus seed-starting. I really didn’t think I’d see them bloom this year, but the mild autumn gave them time to set buds and bloom. I know the dark one is ‘Bellamosum’ and I think the lighter blue below is ‘Cliveden Beauty’. They are both from the Belladonna group of delphiniums, which don’t get such tight spires of bloom but are more perennial in the garden. So far that one ‘Bellamosum’ has produced five spikes of that gorgeous blue!
This light blue delphinium may be 'Cliveden Beauty'

This light blue delphinium may be ‘Cliveden Beauty’

In early May I discovered a bunch of seeds I had meant to broadcast in a flower bed weeks before, when they would get exposed to a long period of frost. I figured I had nothing to lose so I sprinkled them on all the bare ground. I guess they got enough cold to germinate, because they started blooming in mid-August, filling out the front north bed in a very cottage garden fashion.
Various annual poppies, larkspur, and love-in-a-mist (Nigella) give this border a cottage garden look.

Various annual poppies, larkspur, and love-in-a-mist (Nigella) give this border a cottage garden look.

I think many of these annuals can tolerate a light frost, but by now we’ve usually had some hard freezes, which mars all but the toughest plants, if it doesn’t kill them outright.
Candy Oh! Vivid Red rose, Bellamosum delphinium, Crocus speciosus, and Heterotheca villosa 'Ruth Baumgardner' grace the autumn garden.

Candy Oh! Vivid Red rose, Bellamosum delphinium, Crocus speciosus, and Heterotheca villosa ‘Ruth Baumgardner’ grace the south side of the front walk.

Somehow, I don’t think you would see all of these blooming together in a typical October. Okay, the Crocus speciosus is supposed to be blooming in mid-October. This is my first year growing Heterotheca villosa, false goldenaster, thanks to Frances of Fairegarden, so I don’t know if it would typically be blooming now. The Candy Oh! Vivid Red rose is as tough as they come, and it was blooming after a hard freeze last October. Well, maybe they would all be blooming in a typical October. I’ll have to see how that Heterotheca does next year.
Spartacus colchicum, a fall blooming bulb for your garden

Spartacus got a late start, but is going strong.

‘Spartacus’ colchicum is new to me this year. It emerged later than most of my other colchicums, but is looking good when the earlier bloomers are all but a memory. Can you believe all those flowers came from one corm?
Various cultivars of flowering tobacco faithfully bloom in fall.

Various cultivars of flowering tobacco faithfully bloom in fall.

The pink flowering tobacco was another seedling from my sister. I’m not clear whether it’s ‘Cranberry Isle’ or ‘Bella’. Maybe it’s both. Flowering tobacco self-sows for me, but never takes off until late summer/early fall. That’s okay. It looks great while so many other plants are past their peak.
The variegated leaves of Arum italicum Marmoratum emerge in fall and last through the winter.

Will Arum italicum make it through the winter?

Arum italicum ‘Marmoratum’ is another gift from Frances, who lives in Tennessee. It is not reliably hardy in Zone 5, but I have planted it in between the house and a stone walkway in the hopes it will get enough reflected heat to squeak through. Stay tuned.

I feel very blessed to be enjoying such mild October weather. It’s really been a great gardening year.

Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

When dealing with frost it is always best to be paranoid. In the spring never think it is too late for one more frost to come. And in the fall never think it too early.

~Rundy in Frost

Comments on this entry are closed.

Alana October 16, 2013, 9:05 pm

Lovely. Pinned several onto my Flowers board.

Kathy Purdy October 17, 2013, 7:24 am

Thanks for pinning!

les October 16, 2013, 6:41 pm

I hope your Arum makes it. I have several, and I appreciate their winter foliage.

Gail October 16, 2013, 2:41 pm

Loving that back lit delphinium and the mosaic birdbath~a very pretty photo. Happy Bloom Day.

Dee Nash October 16, 2013, 9:28 am

Hi Kathy, I would guess that in your climate dahlias need a lot of sun. They like warm temperatures–but not too hot like my house–sharp drainage and rain, but not too much. In other words, they can be quite finicky. While they may hail from Mexico, they love England and the Oregon coast. Go figure. We both have a challenge with them, but when they bloom, oh my! Happy Bloom Day my friend. Have a great week.~~Dee

Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern October 16, 2013, 9:20 am

What beautiful blooms! You have reminded me to start some nicotiana and nigella from seed for next year. Thank you. Beautiful Dahlia! I have never tried – seems like too much work for me but seeing that bloom, it must be worth it!

Pat Webster October 16, 2013, 8:48 am

Kathy, we’re experiencing the same marvellously warm autumn weather. It’s almost like summer… but colder weather is coming. And I love that, too.

bobobill October 16, 2013, 8:32 am

Do you have Trailing Arbutus in your yard?

Kathy Purdy October 16, 2013, 9:09 am

No, we don’t. Why do you ask? It was growing wild in the woods at our old house, but I haven’t seen any here.

Frances October 16, 2013, 5:10 am

Dear Kathy, it makes me so happy to see those Tennessee plants growing and happy in your garden! May they all survive to see many years of bloom in the future. The fall crocus and Colchicums look so happy there. I might have to try Spartacus for the name alone. The blue delphiniums, something we cannot grow due to the heat of summer make me swoon. Happy GBBD to you!

Hannah October 16, 2013, 1:07 am

The Spartacus colchicum really does have a lot of blooms. I haven’t tried those. I don’t grow Nicotiana and yours are blooming great in the fall, maybe I should consider them. Anemone japonica blooms great for me in the fall.

Julia Hofley October 15, 2013, 11:17 pm

Hi Kathy,
My dahlias didn’t bloom until October. I have a dark red one that looks black. D. ‘Chocolate Karma’. It’s a stunner. I have had dahlias go until mid November in some years. The leaves look awful but they continue to produce good looking flowers. Have you tried the Global Warming Mums from Vermont Organics? These are just opening now and are the latest flowers to bloom in our garden.I still think we have a lot of color left too with this warm fall. The California Callas are still in bloom and are just lovely. They were flower machines this summer and fall. I also grew over 20 different tuberous begonias from tubers under lights in our basement and they are blooming their heads off right now. It’s hard to say good-bye to the garden. I am in La la land pretending I live in a warmer clime…when I should be tearing out annuals while it’s still warm. Complete denial this year.

Kathy Purdy October 16, 2013, 9:12 am

I am glad to hear you have a similar experience with dahlias. I will have to keep my eye out for the plants you mention. Those mums sound promising.

Layanee October 15, 2013, 9:15 pm

Delpiniums are my all time favorite perennials and that color is divine. Lovely blooms this GBBD. Enjoy the few frost free mornings left this year.