Saturday, September 20, 2008

The un-mum brigade

As I gaze at the tangled, going-to-seed mess that is my main sunny gardening bed (above), or walk through the slug-ravaged side and front shade beds, there are spots of cheery color that I know will continue to provide pleasure through October. And they aren’t mums.

There’s no need to get into all the reasons I find mums unsatisfactory; most of you have seen my mum rants. I’d rather talk about the plants that—for me—more than ably substitute as late-season solutions. Some of them are perennials like Japanese anemone and boltonia (at top). Some of them are summer shrubs like hydrangeas. Hydrangea fall color is perfect, and it’s fun to watch the slow process of change. Here you see my Alpenglow in high summer (above) and then in fall:

Foliage plants seem to transition into fall particularly well. I have a bunch of them including these coleus and colocasia (above) and this colocasia hybrid (below) that really has only come into its own in the last few weeks.

And, hell, I’ll take an impatiens over a mum any day. (BTW, I don’t mean the exotic mums you can see in garden shows. Those are magnificent. I mean the ordinary ones that you see in garden centers everywhere now.) These Fusion impatiens have performed nonstop since June and they’ll keep it up until frost.

When November hits, I am busy composting leaves and planting bulbs. My mind is the on the future and I don’t need to look at a few (now quickly browning) mums to keep my spirits up. Not to mention that the fall tree color we have here in Western New York is another reason not to worry too much about fall garden color.

Are you visiting from the GWA conference? Take a look at the Perennial Posts at right. They’re a sampling of my favorites.


Cindy, MCOK said...

I find it hard to work mums into the garden ... they're very stiff plants. In a garden like mine, and yours from what I've seen, they don't fit in with all the loose shapes and forms. It's like putting the Church Lady into a hippie commune.

The only mums I really like are the billowy pale pink ones, like Country Girl aka Clara Curtis. It's not always easy to find them here, though.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I'm also not a mum fan. I get enough color from the Asters. I love that Colocasia. I've never grown one because my soil is too dry, but I think I might have a pot big enough for one next year.

Robin Wedewer said...

You have a lovely selection of fall plants. I'm with you on the mum mounds. Snore. Beautiful foliage and, yes, impatiens are much more attractive options.

Robin Wedewer
National Gardening Examiner

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Mums can be a hassle with all the pinching back and they aren't reliable here as a perennial. I love foliage plants.

Frances said...

Try the other blousey pink hardy Korean mum, Sheffield Pink. It has no equal and needs absolutely no care. The light peachy pink with yellow center sets off the fall foliage of maples and dogwoods to perfection.

Frances at Fairegarden
new url

Pam/Digging said...

Aha, there are those variegated elephant ears you mentioned. Very nice!

Impatiens say summer to me, so I do prefer mums and asters as October rolls around. Around here, fall is a state of mind more than a true season, so maybe I need visual cues more than you, Elizabeth.

EAL said...

Pam, I totally like fall color and some fall flowers, but mums don't say fall to me--or, that is, they say it in a way I don't like.

Anonymous said...

Well I like to put a mum or two by the front door at this time of year, though I only buy the $3.00 ones that are in 6" pots. Other than that, I feel as though it is a waste of money. But I do agree with what you have all been saying about putting them IN the garden-- these mums deffinetly do not look good when planted among the rest of the plants!

MA said...

Elizabeth, the dark colocasia against the salmon color house is smashing!

Pirate Named Neo said...

cool garden, as a lawn care tech, my favorite plant is turf, blue grass is nice but too high maintenance, where I am, Cincinnati Oh, south side of the transition zone, fescue works best. A well maintained plush, green weed free lawn tickles me to no end.
Landscaper of old I like azaleas, rhododendrons,junipers and assorted annuals... have to agree mums ain't all that!

TC said...

You really are anti-mum aren't you? ;~)

I think the link to Gardening While Intoxicated on your Plurk page is broken or something. I've tried it several times and get the following error:

"Connection Interrupted

The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading.
The network link was interrupted while negotiating a connection. Please try again."

EAL said...

It just worked for me, TC, but I will check and redo the link.

Brian said...

You have lovely and beautiful selection of flowers and gardening is a great hobby. If want to see greenery every where in this world we have to adopt this hobby.

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Brian Goethe