The deep magenta vincas have continued to blossom since early spring and they have even sent up some babies. In the right hand corner a patch of "Homestead Purple" verbena looks as fresh as when it was planted, and "Sweet Kate" spiderwort, which was cut back in July shows off its new foliage and blossoms. The variegated plant in the middle at the back is a euphorbia which bloomed earlier but maintains its fabulous foliage for fall effect. In the back left-hand corner a clump of Michaelmas daisies patiently awaits its bloom time a few weeks away.
Beyond the boundaries of the photo, several other late performers add to the show in this garden. A charming pink "Drift" rose sends out its arching limbs that have large clusters of blossoms at the tips. Several super-hardy lantanas bloom away -- one in yellow and cream and another in screaming yellow. Two different salvias continue to attract hummingbirds with their red and purple blooms, and a pair of white dwarf crape myrtles has waning flower stems.
This has not been an easy year for gardeners or gardens. Our spring went well, but the paper said that this had been our wettest summer EVER, and we had to stand by and watch some of our favorite plants turn to mush because of too much water. Then our early fall has been devastatingly dry.
I have heard so many people say, "I just turned my sprinkler system off because it has rained so much." Well, that was a good plan for awhile, but lots of folks never turned their systems back on and others stopped using their portable sprinklers, thinking that the water table was still high. What we all have to realize is that it only takes about a week for the ground to dry out after lots of rainfall, and once it dries out, we need to start back with the watering.
Planning a cutting garden
Several weeks ago a new young friend of mine, Mamie Pound, was asking me about flowers for a cutting garden. She and her husband, Gary, own the Rothschild-Pound Bed and Breakfast in the Historic District, and she likes to place fresh flowers around in the rooms and on the dining room table. So I went to my in-house library on all topics pertaining to gardens and pulled out two books filled with pertinent suggestions. "Simply Flowers" by Barbara Milo Ohrbach offers lists of the best annuals, perennials, bulbs, flowering branches, shrubs, vines, foliage and grasses for flower arrangements, and "Cutting Garden" by Sarah Raven offers the best plant materials by the seasons.
Many of the plants on those lists cannot be grown here, but below you will find a selection of the ones I have had luck with in the past. I love to arrange beautiful, fresh flowers -- sometimes from my garden and sometimes from the florist (or the grocery store). All of the plants listed below will work in our zone.
Annual Flowers: Angelonia, cornflower, cosmos, larkspur, marigold, nasturtium, pansy, snapdragon, and zinnia.
Perennial Flowers: Ageratum, allium, aster, bee balm, chrysanthemum, coreopsis, daisy, euphorbia, feverfew, nicotiana, foxglove, gerbera daisy, hellebore, iris, lily, petunia, phlox, pink, Queen Anne's Lace, rose, rudbeckia, salvia, scabiosa, sedum, Solomon's seal, veronica and yarrow.
Bulbs: Daffodils, hyacinths, and narcissus.
Flowering Shrubs: Flowering almond, azalea, camellia, spirea, butterfly bush, crape myrtle, dogwood, flowering cherry, flowering quince, forsythia, gardenia, hydrangea, magnolia, mountain laurel, pussy willow, rose-of-Sharon, sasanqua, and viburnum.
Foliage: Artemisia, aspidistra, acuba, bay, boxwood, eleagnus, euonymous, fatsia, fern ,holly, hosta, mahonia, leucothoe, parsley, pieris, pine, pittosporum, scotch broom, sedum, Solomon's seal, spruce, tea olive and yew.
If you plant a good selection of these flowers and shrubs, you should have something blooming at all seasons for arrangements.
It's gala time!
One of my favorite annual events, the Garden Gala sponsored by the Columbus Botanical Garden, will take place on Oct. 22 at the Green Island Club. The speaker this year will be Dr. Allan Armitage, former professor at the University of Georgia and one of the most knowledgeable plantsmen on the planet. Back in 1989 Dr. Armitage wrote a seminal book called "Herbaceous Perennial Plants" which is still considered the "go to" book on perennials. He has since written one on annuals and biennials that is equally important and several others on such topics as native plants and vines and climbers. To honor his lifetime's work, Dr. A was given the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award for horticultural excellence, the highest award from the American Horticulture Society.
Come join the fun at this gala event. It will be a chance to "dress up" and get together with friends and fellow gardeners, to enjoy a delightful lunch, to bid on exciting auction items, and maybe to learn a thing or two about "Tales of the Garden." It is $75 per person and the reception begins at 10:00. For registration, call the Botanical Garden at 706-327-8400.
-- Barrie Bain is an independent correspondent.