For this month’s Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest we asked readers to share their favorite late summer blooming plants. One entry was chosen at random to receive one set of six (6) reblooming iris corms. The collection of six plants includes: ‘Corn Harvest,’ ‘Marita,’ ‘Constant Companion,’ ‘Immortality,’ ‘English Cottage,’ and ‘Earl of Essex.’
This iris collection was donated by the Chesapeake & Potomac chapter of the American Iris Society. The society’s web page, www.irises.org, is an informative and helpful resource to all kinds of iris information.
The winner is: Jean Mensh of Alexandria, VA. Congratulations, Jean! Your iris collection is in the mail.
One reason I picked this particular entry question was due to my own frustration over the fixation by Washington, DC/Mid-Atlantic region gardeners with May blooms. Many of them insist that the height of spring is the only attractive season in their gardens. Sure there is a lull in late June through July, but I know that late summer is just as spectacular here in our area and the responses to my query prove it.
Here are the entry submissions. Great choices, all!
Jeavonna Chapman of Baltimore, MD, said her favorite late summer blooming plants are mums and asters. “I love the mums and asters because there are so many to choose from and they are extremely hardy -- dogs, kids, snow -- they can survive anything. I like the Shasta daisy-looking ones and the purple ones that fade to white. (several varieties fit that description and I'll grow whichever one is available).”
“Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is my current favorite,” commented Mary D. Pierce of Springfield, VA. “Early in the morning, when the sun hits my garden, while the dew is still on the plants, the pink plumes sparkle like jewels. I also love this native plant because it provides a sense of motion to the garden as it sways gentle in the breeze. It also reminds me of grasses that grow on sand dunes and that the summer weather is coming to an end and with that the glories of the fall as trees begin to color our landscape.”
Kenneth Moore of Washington, DC, shared, “My favourite late-summer-blooming plant is Trombetta Squash from Renee's Garden. The plant's leaves are humongous and gorgeous, and when it blooms with its huge yellow flowers, I know that in a few weeks, I'll have three to four foot long squash to eat! Nothing makes me happier than a beautiful plant that I know will yield delicious food!”
“My favorite late summer blooming plant is Caryopteris (Blue Mist Shrub), remarked Tom Torrance of McLean, VA. “In the dog days of August, I enjoy looking out my back deck as the buds on the caryopteris swell and then burst into intense blue clusters of flowers. I have a long border of caryopteris that frame the "blue garden" bed in front of the white blossoms of Limelight Hydrangea that line the creek.”
Madeline Caliendo of Washington, DC, named ornamental cabbage as her favorite. “Because they are adorable and I love the purple and other fall-ish colors. I also like the idea of food as art and these ornamentals are just that.”
“My favorite late summer blooming flower are the sunflowers that are gracing my yard in August,” wrote Carrie Biggs-Adams of Colmar Manor, MD. “I enjoy seeing all the pollinators having a great time among all the colors of sunflowers that have done so well in my yard. Then come the finches who are eating the seeds of the heads as they mature. It makes for a colorful buzzing lively yard!”
Melissa Merideth of Bethesda, MD, favored clematis vines that rebloom in late summer. “Why: always such a nice surprise to see the beautiful blooms again!”
Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata) were the top choice of Katie Rapp of Gaithersburg, MD. “I love these unexpected red blooms that pop up out of nowhere in late summer/early fall. They just speak to me of long, lovely Indian summer days. I lived in Chapel Hill, NC, when I first saw them. I see them infrequently in the DC area. I tried to grow them in my garden, but with limited success. They came up for a couple years, but deer ate them (or kids broke them). We'll see if one comes up this year (I think I was down to one blooming last year).”
Anne Hardman of Silver Spring, MD, picked the Japanese Anemone. “It is light and airy, and it's blossoms seem to float free in the breeze. After blooming a fuzzy seed head persists like down floating through the air.”
Jean Mensh of Alexandria, VA also picked Japanese Anemone (Anemone tomentosa 'Robustissima' ) “Delicate flowers and the plant looks fresh despite the harshest summer conditions,” said Jean.
Pictured at top from your editor's pwn garden last September, from left to right, Sweet Autumn clematis, Japanese Anemone, and Chrysanthemum.
What is YOUR late summer blooming favorite?