Saying goodbye to August is never easy for me. Heck, saying goodbye to July, isn’t easy for me. I love summer and being outdoors. I never get tired of sunny skies, buzzing bees and balmy nights to view the stars.
With September I feel all the more inclined to make every moment count and enjoy the outdoors as much as I possibly can before the rain and cooler temperatures return.
With that in mind, the last few years I’ve made an effort to incorporate more fall blooming plants into my landscape. While anticipating their floral show all season, they offer something new and fresh at a time when I can use a good mental boost. Practically speaking, they serve to take over for plants that have finished their show. They also complement the plants that are still going strong, like hardy fuchsias, asters and dahlias. I thought I’d mention three worthy candidates that are easy to grow and are sure to be a nice summer’s end reward.
Want a fragrant mint that doesn’t take over the entire yard? Chinese mint shrub (Elsholtzia stauntonii) doesn’t have the spreading roots that we associate with mint. Chinese mint shrub is a clumping, well-behaved perennial with fragrant leaves that is native to China and can be seen growing both near valley stream beds and also on dry hillsides. In other words, it’s a very adaptable plant. In late summer, fluffy spikes of magenta-pink flowers attract bees and other pollinators. I have mine in a mostly sunny mixed border. During spring and early summer it blends and looks good but not spectacular. But when the flowers emerge it transforms into a pleasing punctuation point. Winter hardy to -30 degrees F., it will come back each successive year.
Trumpet Spurflower (Isodon effuses, Rabdosia longituba) is a unique perennial from the mountains of Japan that will be equally at home here in an Oregon woodland or shade garden. During the growing season, nondescript, lanceolate leaves grow into either a tall, narrow plant or, if you’re like me and tip prune it throughout the season, it’s a four feet tall by two feet wide bushy plant. In fall the branch tips give way to wistful panicles of delft blue tubular flowers that continue the show for at least a month. A superb cut flower, Trumpet Spurflower will increase mildly in size each year and survive Pacific Northwest winters just fine. I have mine growing next to a hydrangea whose blossoms take on a burnished rosy color. The two work really well together, if I do say so myself.
It took me a few years to figure out exactly where to situate Salvia glabrescens “Momobana” in my garden. Too much shade and it grows tall, leans toward the light, flops and doesn’t flower. Too much sun and it fries. Finally I think I have it figured out. It receives about two hours of early afternoon sun and is lightly shaded the rest of the day which makes for a well-shaped two foot tall and wide plant with unique, arrow-shaped leaves. In early fall, tropical looking two-toned pink flowers bloom on the tips of the stems and continue for several weeks. I have mine planted near an upright fuchsia bush with nearly the same colored flowers. Unlike a lot of Salvias, this one will be happy to receive regular moisture during the hot summer months. Also unlike a lot of Salvias, this one is winter hardy down to -15 degrees F. so no need to protect it during the winter months.
All three plants are available at Dancing Oaks Nursery in Monmouth or visit dancingoaks.com.