Our first frost this autumn was later than usual, and was actually a hard freeze, dropping to 26F(-3.3C) on Sunday, October 10th. Most gardeners in warmer climates imagine a hard freeze like this:But cold climate gardeners know the scene can just as easily look like this:
At Their Best in Autumn
It takes more than one hard freeze to wipe out a hardy garden, though we all know this is the beginning of the end. Some plants, however, are truly at their best in autumn, and others seem to get a second wind once the temperatures drop and the autumn rains return.I had never grown bidens before, so ‘Goldilocks Rocks,’ a trial plant from Proven Winners, was an education for me. I grew it in the old washtub I use as a planter to mark the entrance to the Secret Garden. I confess I forgot to water it during our prolonged dry spell, and it never blinked. It doesn’t need deadheading to look good, and it’s hardy to at least 30F. It probably would not enjoy standing water, but otherwise it’s as trouble free as anyone could want. Bidens ferulifolia is native to Arizona, and is also called Apache beggarticks or fern-leaved beggarticks. Glad to make your acquaintance. The asters above are native to our area. In a hard freeze, the open blossoms get ruined, but new buds will open after the freeze. Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata) and various mallows also behave this way. Their foliage is quite a bit hardier than their flowers.
Last of the Colchicums
The double-flowered colchicums are the last to flower here.
Vegetables Still in the Running
Yes, the tomatoes are over and the basil is history, but there are still vegetables and herbs worth eating out there.
There’s also kale waiting to be harvested, and often there is broccoli, though not this year.
Many biennials have great looking foliage in the autumn of their first year. We’ve already seen forget-me-not foliage in the birdbath tableaux.Do you remember Allegheny vine (Adlumia fungosa), which I wrote about here? Finally, let’s not forget about the foliage autumn is famous for: While we’re not going to attempt to prevent the inevitable, we cold climate gardeners don’t throw our hands up in defeat. We enjoy the remaining beauty for as long as we can, even if it means squinting and pretending we don’t see the signs of eventual decay. The leaves of border phlox have been ravaged by drought, but the recent rain encouraged a second flush of bloom. A more fastidious (or ambitious) gardener probably would cut them all down, but I deadleaf a few every time I pass by, and turn a blind eye to the browned remains of the spent blossoms. Soon enough all will be austerely neatened by falling snow.
Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.