Fall Color

It’s been one year and five days since I’ve posted and a lot has changed in the garden (and just about every where else in this mixed up crazy world).

One thing that hasn’t changed, and is particularly comforting, is the reliability of fall color — especially appreciated on late October day when afternoon temps reached 60 degrees and the early evening coppery sun, suspended low in the sky to the west of Vashon Island, was slowly descending from above the Olympic mountains as twilight neared.

Smoke bush

Cotinus obovatus (Smoke Bush)

id berries

Viburnum opulus ‘Compactum’ (Dwarf Cranberry Bush)

hydrangea

Hydragea quercifolia ‘Sikes Dwarf’ (Oakleaf Hydrangea)

solomon seal

Polygonatum odoratum (Solomon’s Seal)

Dwarf pumpkin flower on a late season trailing vine

A Garden Worthy Perennial Chrysanthemum

Many gardeners see little utility in the ubiquitous chrysanthemums that clutter nurseries  this time of the year. At gardeninacity blog, filled with posts that exude wit, wisdom and a keen sense of what makes a great garden plant, Jason made the point succinctly:

mum“It is my contention that Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) are underused, and Chrysanthemums overused, as fall annuals. Pansies like cool weather and tolerate light frosts. In my experience their blooms last longer than those of Chrysanthemums.

Chrysanthemums are not really annuals, but that is how they are used by the million: purchased as a dense floral mound in a pot, then thrown away. I’ve never really liked Chrysanthemums, but I bought a few this year anyway. I wish now that I hadn’t.”

I have to agree (mostly) with Jason. The few mums I have in pots winter over in the greenhouse and I group them for best effect in the fall months. But, while in Salt Lake City Utah recently for a family matter, I found time to visit the Red Butte Garden adjacent to the campus of the University of Utah, and stumbled on this prolific, arching and fragrant chrysanthemum thriving in the landscape.

mum2A closer look revealed the arching spreading habit topped with perfect daisy blooms.

mum3mum5It took me awhile to identify the plant, initially wondering if it was actually an aster of some type. I was in the fragrant garden section of the arboretum, when I finally found a smaller specimen and the identifying plant label.

Bending over, the chrysanthemum leaves gave off their unmistakable odor.

Here’s another closeup from the “What’s Blooming Now” section of the Red Butte Garden website.

Plant Facts for Chrysanthemum ‘Ryan’s Pink’

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 – 9
  • Hardy, arching and relaxed or drooping stems
  • Disease resistant; tough plant resistant to common pests.
  • Recently reassigned to the genus Dendranthema as Dendranthema x ‘Ryan’s Pink’
Goodness Grows Nursery in Lexington, Georgia introduced ‘Ryan’s Pink’ into the trade. The single-petaled flowers have dusty lavender-pink petals and a bright yellow center. Rick Berry, one of the nursery’s owners, procured his start from Decatur, Georgia garden designer Ryan Gainey.

Alaska Trip

I didn’t intend to write about the plants I encountered on our recent trip to Alaska, since this trip was primarily to see and visit with one of our indexing clients and to hike and kayak.

Nevertheless I stumbled on the Pratt Museum in Homer, which had a sweet native plant garden

I was pleased to see this native geranium still blooming in mid September, and snapped this shot.  More proof that natives can be just as stunning, nuanced and lovely as any “new” hybrid or cultivar peddled in the garden trade.

geranium-erianthum

Wild Alaskan Geranium (Geranium erianthum)

That said, here’s a post on some of those hardy geranium cultivars I grow. Compare it to Geranium erianthum!

Resurrection Bay Seward, AK

Resurrection Bay Seward, AK

Spencer Glacier Chugach National Forest

Spencer Glacier Chugach National Forest