Freeze Aftermath: Garden Bloggers Bloom Day October 2010

– Posted in: What's up/blooming

Our first frost this autumn was later than usual, and was actually a hard freeze, dropping to 26F(-3.3C) on Sunday, October 10th. Most gardeners in warmer climates imagine a hard freeze like this:

Morning glories after a freeze

Morning glories after a freeze

But cold climate gardeners know the scene can just as easily look like this:
Bird bath with cold hardy flowers

Dianthus, alyssum, pansies, and white colchicums complement golden sedum, gray artemisia, and green forget-me-not foliage in this post-freeze composition

At Their Best in Autumn

It takes more than one hard freeze to wipe out a hardy garden, though we all know this is the beginning of the end. Some plants, however, are truly at their best in autumn, and others seem to get a second wind once the temperatures drop and the autumn rains return.

Sedum Hot Stuff

Hot Stuff sedum is in its glory

Cape Diamond rose

Many roses are still blooming. This is Cape Diamond

rudbeckia and feverfew

This double feverfew and rudbeckia showed up on their own and were unfazed by the freeze

Bidens ferulifolia Goldilocks Rocks

Bidens ferulifolia Goldilocks Rocks is still rocking in its container

I had never grown bidens before, so ‘Goldilocks Rocks,’ a trial plant from Proven Winners, was an education for me. I grew it in the old washtub I use as a planter to mark the entrance to the Secret Garden. I confess I forgot to water it during our prolonged dry spell, and it never blinked. It doesn’t need deadheading to look good, and it’s hardy to at least 30F. It probably would not enjoy standing water, but otherwise it’s as trouble free as anyone could want. Bidens ferulifolia is native to Arizona, and is also called Apache beggarticks or fern-leaved beggarticks. Glad to make your acquaintance.
asters in upstate NY

Three kinds of asters growing naturally here. Can you identify them?

The asters above are native to our area. In a hard freeze, the open blossoms get ruined, but new buds will open after the freeze. Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata) and various mallows also behave this way. Their foliage is quite a bit hardier than their flowers.

Last of the Colchicums

The double-flowered colchicums are the last to flower here.

Hostas and white colchicums

These hostas fared better than most, providing a pleasing contrast to the Alboplenum colchicums

Waterlily colchicum

Waterlily colchicums

Vegetables Still in the Running

Yes, the tomatoes are over and the basil is history, but there are still vegetables and herbs worth eating out there.

beet greens

These beets are both gorgeous and tasty


Parsley seems to improve in flavor after frost

red ribbed swiss chard

Many find Swiss chard attractive enough to grow as an ornamental in containers

There’s also kale waiting to be harvested, and often there is broccoli, though not this year.

Fantastic Foliage

Many biennials have great looking foliage in the autumn of their first year. We’ve already seen forget-me-not foliage in the birdbath tableaux.

foxglove and lungwort

Foxglove and lungwort look lush in the cool autumn weather.

adlumia fungosa and heuchera

Allegheny vine and coral bells contrast beautifully

Do you remember Allegheny vine (Adlumia fungosa), which I wrote about here? Finally, let’s not forget about the foliage autumn is famous for:
colorful tree foliage in autumn

Our view across the street.

While we’re not going to attempt to prevent the inevitable, we cold climate gardeners don’t throw our hands up in defeat. We enjoy the remaining beauty for as long as we can, even if it means squinting and pretending we don’t see the signs of eventual decay.
Phlox paniculata

Phlox paniculata is throwing out a second flush of bloom

The leaves of border phlox have been ravaged by drought, but the recent rain encouraged a second flush of bloom. A more fastidious (or ambitious) gardener probably would cut them all down, but I deadleaf a few every time I pass by, and turn a blind eye to the browned remains of the spent blossoms. Soon enough all will be austerely neatened by falling snow.

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.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Jeannette October 30, 2010, 10:02 pm

It’s wonderful you still have so many blooms! I was out taking pictures of what is still lovely in our garden in southeast PA – still mostly looking nice, actually, though I loved the way you put it: “squinting and pretending we don’t see the signs of eventual decay” – poetic and true!

Kathy Purdy October 31, 2010, 9:56 am

Of course, that was two weeks ago. There is a lot less than there was then. But it is still nice to be out on any mild day. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

Melanie (baconseed) October 21, 2010, 10:19 pm

That is your view across the street?! I live in suburbia, so I am more than jealous! Your photos are lovely, and you blog informative!!

Kathy Purdy October 21, 2010, 10:27 pm

Yup, that is my view across the street. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

Neil Moran October 16, 2010, 3:33 pm

I love this time of year, as fleeting as it is. In addition to the ornamental plants, I enjoy seeing the fall foliage of the native red-osier dogwood, wild raspberries and the various grasses. It hasn’t been that cold yet, here in the U.P. of Michigan. Days are mostly sunny still. Great photos and view across the street.

salix October 16, 2010, 8:51 am

What a view you have of the wooded area! I can imagine that the early spring is just as beautiful.

Layanee October 16, 2010, 7:53 am

No freeze here yet and this must be a record. The morning glories are really sensitive to temperature changes aren’t they. The marigolds just continue on and always look so pretty with a sugar coating of frost. Love your foliage also.

Darla October 16, 2010, 7:41 am

Gotto love those cold hardy plants! I am not looking forward to jack frost at all.

Patsy Bell Hobson October 16, 2010, 3:40 am

I love the view from across the street. Trees are such an important part of our landscape. Thanks for sharing the fall color.

Leslie October 15, 2010, 9:24 pm

I wonder if your cooler summer creates plants that can take that freeze and keep on going? It seems to me they would be toast here if it dropped that low. The double colchicums and your wonderful view are fantastic!

RBell October 15, 2010, 8:53 pm

Hard to beat that autumn view of the trees across the hillside. Down here in central Texas, its hard for us to even imagine an October freeze – especially one down to the mid-twenties!

Kathy Purdy October 15, 2010, 8:56 pm

It’s hard for me to imagine your summer heat!

Donna October 15, 2010, 8:46 pm

You really did get a cold snap. Here in the Falls, we had a light frost, just a dusting on the grass and car windows. You still have a lot blooming, much more than here. Very pretty images.

Lisa Ueda October 15, 2010, 8:18 pm

Love it love it love it Hot Stuff Sedum is amazing! The double cochicums too, goregous. I’m pretty sure the only thing frost nipped was the morning glories;) Nice variety of what’s in bloom.

Kathy Purdy October 15, 2010, 8:50 pm

Cosmos, zinnias, and coleus were the most noticeable casualties. Of course, one hard freeze does not slay a garden. It’s when you get several in a row that the plants really start to surrender.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter October 15, 2010, 8:08 pm

I can ID 2 of the three ex-asters – Symphyotricum lateriflorus on top, bottom right is S. novae-angliae. The double Colchicums are just stunning.

Frances October 15, 2010, 7:58 pm

My goodness, Kathy, that birdbath garden shot looks more like Tennessee that what I imagined your cold climate would look like after a hard freeze! Good to know, that an experienced gardener can plant for that effect. Kudos! We have those same asters, or similar ones, but don’t know their names, whites and blues, all welcome! 🙂

Kathy Purdy October 15, 2010, 8:11 pm

Frances, the credit must go to my oldest daughter, who has taken charge of that bed.

GardeninginaSandbox October 15, 2010, 7:35 pm

Nice to see that you have lots of blooms left. Not so here. Beautiful view across the street.