notes on the September garden

Eryngium yuccifolium

Miscanthus ‘Flamingo’

September is a big month in this garden…the equivalent of a king’s tide (the highest full-moon tide that temporarily erases local beaches).

Dahlia ‘Camano Sitka’ and Selinum wallichianum

But this is no act of nature. Big, tall plants have always been a preference. Still, the height and fullness of September is startling.

Other than the paths, like a tide the ground is completely covered
Linaria ‘Plummy,’ a cross between L. dalmatica and purpurea. It’s really something. Only one plant from a forgotten sowing in a stock tank was spotted this spring. Probably sown fall 2022

Even so there are some low-key incidents, like this quiet corner that is one of my favorites to visit at the moment. I’ve shown a couple of these plants before but not as a group portrait, and that’s how they really shine. The constituent plants are so thinly built that I’ll need to show closeups.

Verbascum roripifolium. Of five plants, this one is the most well-branched. Yes, a branching, not vertical verbascum! A cloud of bloom instead of a spire.

Unlike Joe-Pye weed and miscanthus and the dahlias and helianthus that read from a distance, each of these plants is so fizzy and ethereal that a group portrait is like a Seurat painting without the people and parasols. The three are a verbascum, a linaria, and a verbena, all started from seed this year. It’s sheer happenstance that they are all blooming together in a small protected area that seemed a safe bet for cosseting new baby plants. Apart from the linaria, multiples of these same plants are dotted throughout the garden, but they’ve reached their best potential in this little patch. Reseeding of any or all would be most welcome!

Verbena officinalis var. grandiflora ‘Bampton’

And other than reseeding, it’s uncertain whether any of these plants will return next year, just as there will never be precisely this version of a September garden again.

and the group portrait, with a stray astrantia sneaking in. Grass is molinia.

A very absorbing, quiet corner in person, but as a photo it’s not very compelling with the delicate spatial relationships rendered flat. (Don’t you want to settle a potted agave in the midst of the planting?)

Reblooming astrantia? ‘Star of Fire’ planted early May

Good public gardens are full of examples of planting that is easily legible by a general audience. Some strong planting was seen at the Bellevue Botanic Garden we visited recently in late August.

near the entrance at BBG — bananas, alstroemeria, salvia, gingers, hardy scheffleras
late summer planting at Bellevue Botanic Garden near the entrance, hardy gingers stealing the show

Near the entrance the planting was emphatic and clearly legible.

Public gardens have unique concerns — there was a fundraising art show taking place
A looser, more complex, detailed planting with a foreground sedum/hylotelephium, cynara, gaura, eucomis and lots more going on

Deeper into BBG, the planting did become looser, more free form.

Ratibida columnifera at BBG
False hemp Datisca cannabina, Bellevue Botanic Garden

This. The false hemp backlit by late afternoon sun — I’d love to see this at home in a future September garden.

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9 Responses to notes on the September garden

  1. Kris P says:

    Your September garden looks glorious, Denise! The BBG is lovely too. I adore the soft yellow color and floating habit of that new-to-me Verbascum roripifolium. Did you support your Dahlia ‘Camano Sitka’ in some fashion? It’s standing tall and proud, unlike many of those I neglected to prop up during the early stages of their growth spurt.

  2. Denise Maher says:

    @Kris, the garden had a day of light rain a couples weeks ago which always makes a difference. The dahlias were staked and tied in early . The one shown has really strong, thick stems, hence the name I’m assuming, like a Sitka spruce.

  3. “just as there will never be precisely this version of a September garden again”…I was kind of lost in that sentence for awhile. So interesting to think about.

    I’ve always been jealous of those who have the room to grow that Datisca cannabina well, it’s such a great plant. The one at the BBG is fabulous.

  4. Elaine says:

    Those soft ethereal plantings are hard to capture by photo but in person can be enchanting. Your photo of Eryngium yuccifolium is encouraging as I started seed this Spring. The resulting seedlings look like grass vs the Eryngium I’m used to so fingers crossed they will survive and flower one day. Bellevue looks like a beautiful garden to visit.

  5. Chavli says:

    The BBG is one I visit often and in all seasons. The perennial borders are fantastic and visitors’ favorite, but there are other wonderful areas, perhaps less showy. There’s always something to enjoy, even in winter.
    Although I strolled through the garden during the art’s fair, it’s hardly the best time to enjoy the garden: for me, more tranquil times are better.
    “Ratibida columnifera” caught my eye… on the list it goes.

  6. Denise says:

    @Loree, having the room for the datisca is key, and it’s uncertain whether I do at this point!
    @Elaine, I love love lurve this eryngium! Good luck with your seedlings. I bought a bunch of eryngium seed too, some of it redundant when I figured out E. eburneum is synonymous with E. paniculatum which I already grow…
    @Chavli, I was amazed at how large and prosperous the BBG has become! I visited it many years ago in the ’90s before a lot of new land behests enlarged it to what it is now. A wonderful resource for you locally!

  7. hb says:

    Very nice. Looks like Dahlias do fabulously in your area. Garden looks great.

    Have you seen your other garden recently? T.S. Hilary worked miracles everywhere here.

    The BBG looks impressive, too.

  8. Jerry says:

    That Selinum wallichianum is a beauty. Interesting to hear that big, tall plants are preferred, which helps me see the garden through a new lens. I think the effect is reminiscent of some of the prairies in the Midwest that were full of flowers and grasses. I was just looking around my garden today and thinking that there isn’t much that steals the show besides asters and zauschnerias. Time to add some more color for mid to late summer.

  9. Denise says:

    @Jerry, I really feel the absence of zauschnerias — not sure I have enough sun. There’s a stunning Xera selection ‘Silver Select’ I want to try. And the globe mallows too. Lack of sun/space are the obstacles. But it’s always great to end the season with plans for the next, just like your quest for more color.

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