I walked out to the end of the driveway this morning to collect our newspapers (yes, we’re dinosaurs who actually subscribe to the print editions of multiple newspapers), and was greeted by our stand of Helianthus angustifolius. It’s part of the ‘Manhattan’ bed and is the penultimate bloomer in that three-season site.
|Helianthus angustofolius in October bloom|
But the Helianthus takes you completely by surprise. Until it blooms, it is truly part of the tall greenery at the back of the bed. Once it opens up, there’s no overlooking it. There are multiple – up to half a dozen – blooms on each stalk and their weight bends those stalks to a confounding series of graceful arches.
I would like to take credit for first planting this specimen, but honesty forces me to acknowledge that there was a small clump of it growing in the original Old Stone bed. We divided it, moving half out to the Butterfly bed where it would get better late summer sun. It took off (it spreads by rhizomes) and the clump is now about ten feet wide and two feet deep, fully intermingled with the aforementioned rudbeckia. Some years ago, we potted up a single plant, took it to a nursery, and asked for a further identification. Many books and websites were consulted but the nursery was unable to come up with a specific cultivar.
A handful of other perennials are still in bloom. The pink turtlehead (Chelone lyonii) is holding its own in our lower shade bed even as the rest of the bed turns an inexorable yellow. The two sidewalk beds closest to the house are still a pleasure to look at. In the ‘inner’ bed, a white David’s phlox is in its second month of bloom and a Persicaria ‘Painter’s Palette’ has both the beautiful, multi-colored foliage it has displayed all season plus, now, an abundance of pink spikes.
|Persicaria 'Painter's Palette'|
|The outer sidewalk bed, with|
Daphne Atlantica in the
Finally, although a shrub rather than a perennial, our Daphne ‘Atlantica’ is putting on an autumn show. We nearly gave it up for dead after last winter and it spent much of the spring and summer staked in hopes of strengthening its trunk. Whatever we did worked: the plant roughly tripled in size over the course of the summer and then began putting out fragrant white flowers. It is still going strong.