An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

October 15, 2011

Bloom Day: Easily Distracted

This month's Bloom Day finds me in grateful appreciation of one of the most entertaining falls I have enjoyed in a long time, but I am not talking about changing leaves, that has only been hinted at here.  For one thing, I am talking about all the blooms in my garden right now.  Normally by this point things look ragged and exhausted after fighting one of our summers. However, we had more than ample rain during August and September, followed by a spate of weather so nice it made my teeth hurt.  Even on our bad weather days, we have been treated to skies more fascinating than television.  A friend of mine was remarking on that last night, and she attributed the atmospheric show to global warming.  I attributed it to just a greater appreciation of all things in general, that fortunately seems to be one the few benefits of our advancing age.

Let's distract ourselves from this discussion of age before it goes somewhere I don't want to, and let's head into the garden instead.  My head has been turned all summer by the Zowie Zinnias (Zinnia elegans 'Zowie').  There have been blooms on them since the day they were planted way back in May.

Zinnia elegans 'Zowie'

Zinnia elegans 'Zowie' and Hibiscus sabdariffa

That last picture introduced another plant I mentioned last month, Roselle Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa).  Unlike the Zinnia, it has taken its sweet time to start blooming, but it is now in 5th gear.  I am not normally a seed saver, but with this plant I will be making an exception.

Hibiscus sabdariffa (2)

Hibiscus sabdariffa

Hibiscus sabdariffa (3)

Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) blossoms have held their mouths open in song all summer long,  never asking much beyond a little water when they were putting down roots.

Angelonia angustifolia

This summer I went to a garden party where plants were exchanged, and I came home with this Aloe, the species I don't know.  I crashed an Aloe ID web site trying to look it up.  Update:  an anonymous commenter identified this as Haworthia limifolia.  Thanks!

Aloe (2)


Our nicer weather has brought new life to the few roses I have. This is 'Hot Cocoa'.

Rosa x 'Hot Cocoa'

Cuphea x 'David Verity' is listed as hardy for me, but even if it isn't, I will plant it again. Non-stop flowers all summer, and lately the foliage has begun to turn burgundy creating one of my favorite garden color combos with its orange flowers.

Cuphea x 'David Verity'

Another non-stop bloomer has been Cestrum aurantiaum 'Orange Zest'. This is my first year for this shrub and its second Bloom Day appearance.

Cestrum aurantiaum 'Orange Zest'

I do have some more traditional fall bloomers to show starting with Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha), also seen last month.

Salvia leucantha

Here is Toad Lily (Tricyrtis hirta), which is one of the most camera shy of perennials.

Tricyrtis hirta

We will end this month's Bloom Day with my only hardy Chrysanthemum, Bolero (Dendranthemum 'Bolero'). I planted this last fall wanting to have a hardy Mum, but not being able to stomach the color or thuggish nature of Sheffields.

Dendranthemum 'Bolero'

So what's entertaining and distracting you this fall; for what are you grateful?  Share you answer with the on-line gardening world by taking part in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, which is held on the 15th of each month.  I am grateful for our GBBD hostess, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.  Stop by and show her some love.


  1. What gardener would not have zinnias in their garden? They are such a pretty and reliable bloomer throughout the year and come into their glory in the fall when the temperatures moderate.Yours is lovely. Also your toad lily. I wonder if I could grow this one here? The Aloe is beautiful too. The flowers are very like my unidentified aloe but the leaf is different. Need an expert to identify this one. Happy GBBD

  2. Your images are stunning as always, but your first zinnia is my favorite. I keep running across that toad lily and I want it every time I see it. I really must get myself one.

  3. What a bounty of beauty you have, Les! We've been enjoying an exceptionally warm fall here in Denver, too - not even a hard freeze yet (not at my house anyway!). Love the toad-lily!

  4. Stunning, all of it. Your S. leucantha has the white blooms inside the purple bracts. Mine are all solid purple save one odd plant that needs turning into many more. I'm distracted with getting ready for winter but trying to get out and enjoy at the same time.

  5. Zinnias gone wild is a good title for this summer. I have one that is over seven feet tall. Why? I just let it go on its own and that is what happened. Your blooms are dashing. Love that hibiscus.

  6. I'm so grateful for the cooler weather and a bit of rain. We've had days so pretty it made our teeth hurt too. Yes, I appreciate things so much more than I once did because I now realize there is an ending to all of this one day. Your flowers are beautiful Les. Thanks for keeping us company last summer when it was so hot. Your kind words helped lift me out of my doldrums.~~Dee

  7. Nice close ups. That Bolero is really strange looking...and the first several images before the flower opens up are really interesting. The outside has a that eggplant purple color....really unique from other plants.

  8. Instead of aloe, try Haworthia limifolia

  9. Very pretty blooms. And a garden party sounds like so much fun! Love your mexican bush sage. Very nice pics. Happy GBBD!

  10. Your garden never ceases to amaze me. I am envious of your toadlily...something ate mine. Think it was a bunny or insects as the usual suspect (vole) had not left any holes in the soil.
    Have ONE zinnia and it is going gangbusters...from a Celebration packet from JMU's 100th Anniversary. Saving seeds for my JMU grads...and all their friends.

  11. Lovely as usual Les. Every time I read your blog I vow to improve my own photography. Love the orange mum. Happy GBBD.

  12. Cigar plants have always been a favorite of mine, every since I moved from Texas. Must try one potted and moved in during the winter.

    Nice photos as always.

  13. Dear Les, Your October garden and your photography are amazing. Love 'Hot Cocoa' and all your blooms. Happy Bloom Day! P. x

  14. Very cool hibiscus. I just brought home that same toad lily from a nursery today, my first toad lily ever. Not sure what it will make of zone 10. And so rare to find someone speak well of their summer/fall weather! Glad to hear you're enjoying the season.

  15. Zinnias! the name says it all - zingy or what! Beautiful photos.

  16. Entrancing photos as always. I'm with Donna, lots of beauty but the Zinnias are particularly gorgeous. I love that first shot.

  17. Inspirational garden and photography! These photos are as artistic as still life paintings by Dutch Masters... only better.

  18. Hi Les, Belated Happy GBBD! Such an interesting assortment of blooms here! I liked the Cestrum aurantiaum 'Orange Zest' and the Mexicn Sage bush especially.

  19. This fall weather has been great hasn't it. I like the bloom on the Roselle Hibiscus.

  20. Glad to hear you're having a great bit of weather over there...the plants definitely seem to be appreciating it as well!

  21. thanks for the id. don't suppose they are winter hardy? I now remember salvaging some seed from a plant in a restaurant parking lot. may still have some if you want?

  22. Wonderful flower power show! I love the Toad Lily a lot, so fine, such a beauty!

  23. Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment. I am sorry I did not respond to you individually, but it has been one of those weeks.