Six on Saturday -Hits and Horrors

Hard to believe that it’s the first weekend of autumn; the year is, once again, whizzing by and the hot, humid summer days are already just a memory.  There seems to be a lot of purple in my garden this week – the New England Asters are in full bloom everywhere, as are the Colchicum, while dogwood and some Viburnum leaves are already brilliantly orange and red.

I did have one horrible shock this week though – and I’ll get that out of the way first:

White Pine Sawfly - Neopidrion pinetum - Sept 28 2018 sm
1 – Yesterday, I discovered a few branches of a special weeping white pine – Pinus strobus pendula –  totally stripped of needles (see photo below).  The culprit?  These nasty white pine sawfly larvae.  I’ve never experienced them before so had to research what they were.  The really sad thing is that they don’t even morph into in interesting butterfly or moth – just an ugly, large fly.  All that destruction with no apparent benefit.
White Pine Sawfly damage to white pine Sept 28 2018 sm
This is the leader – I may wind up pruning it off n the spring – need to wait to see if they ate next year’s buds too.  Those needles ain’t never gonna grow back!
Popcorn Plant Sept 28 2018
2a – I’ve shown this Popcorn Plant (Senna didymobotrya) before, I think.  It’s grown to about four feet high this year, just starting to send off side branches,  and I’m troubled that I won’t be able to dig it up and overwinter it indoors.  There’s just no room for another tropical inside.  Maybe I need a greenhouse eh?
Popcorn Plant flower Sept 28 2018
2b – closeup of the flower
Variegated Sedum Sept 28 2018
3 – A few years ago, a neighbour gave me a tiny baby division of her variegated Sedum.  Here it is today, a teenager, blooming quite nicely for the first time.  Interesting that there’s very little pink or red in the flower (unlike the regular Sedum spectabile).
Broccolli Sept 28 2018
4 – Another neighbour brought over a dozen broccoli seedlings this past May.  They grew beautifully – at least, the leaves did.  Tons of foliage (that the cabbage moths devoured) but no flower to harvest.  Until now!  For a single appetizer, perhaps, or for just one dip into a sauce – this fingernail-size bit of broccoli!
Zinnia elegans Queeny Sept 28 2018
5 – Zinnia elegans ‘Queenie.’  This Zinnia was hyped a lot in the spring and has been all over social media, but it’s turned out to be a bust for me.  The marketing effort touted its changing colours while for me, it was always a fairly insipid yellow or yellowy pink.  It wasn’t very robust, especially compared to other Zinnias, and was just as prone to powdery mildew as the other varieties.  Worst of all, most of the flowers were double (although not, for some reason, these ones), which are not very attractive to pollinators. Just say no.
patio - Sept 28 2018 morning b
6 – And finally, here’s a shot looking up at my small side patio garden.  There are layers of Iris, Marigolds, Colchicum, Veronica and deciduous shrubs going up a small rise; pots of Canna are on the edge of the patio.  It’s a small quiet oasis to watch and listen to the birds and bees.

That’s it for me this week – we have no frost forecast for the next two weeks so no major cleaning up to do yet.  I do have a few hundred bulbs to get in and will talk about those next week, perhaps.  I’ll be resting my legs for most of the day, today, trying to keep them fresh for the Prince Edward County half marathon tomorrow.  I may talk about THAT next week, as well!

Until then, enjoy the fall (or spring, if you’re on the other side of the globe!) and click over to The Propogator‘s site to link to wonderful Sixes from all over.


  1. I like the popcorn plant which has an interesting combination of yellow and chocolate colours. I posted broccoli today too ( and had some for dinner tonight) and I read that the leaves are good to cook too, so no need to worry about lack of flowers. The view of your garden is lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We had some of the broccoli leaves last night and they were quite tasty, Chris. I believe you can spray them with good olive oil and roast them in the oven, to make chips, similar to kale! Interesting thought….

        Liked by 1 person

  2. the larvae of the #1 are impressive and voracious … fortunately we don’t have them here … About the popcorn plant, I already saw this plant on internet but the name was unknown to me. That’s a shame that you don’t have a greenhouse … I could lend you mine to overwinter it ?! …😁

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  3. Never seen a popcorn plant before! It’s fab and does look like popcorn. I couldn’t get into my garden all week and found sawfly larvae on my roses! I’ve never seen them on a pine before though. Hope you got it sorted. You have a beautiful garden.


  4. Those sawfly are NASTY! I would be so angry if they did that to one of my small pines! I have never seen them before. The ponderosa pines are so big that if they are up there, I would never know.
    I did not know you had popcorn plant. We know it as popcorn cassia, and it is more common in Southern California than it is here.

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      1. Yes thy are. There is a species that looks just like it that is growing as a street tree on one of the main streets into Capitola, along with queen palms. It needed pruning for clearance but developed a nice wide top that blooms exquisitely.

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  5. Hope your pine tree rebounds. Like Tony (above), I’ve got a soft spot for trees. As the others, I immediately looked up popcorn plant & see it can be grown as an annual. Does it produce a lot of seeds? Perhaps you can grow it again next year, if you can’t get it thru what sounds like horrible winters where you live. Good to know about the zinnia, also. I’ve never grown them but have decided to take the plunge next year. If I get offered or see any Queenie seeds, I’ll just say, NOOOOOOOO! Chris says so. Side garden’s looking good! Let us know if you make those broccoli leaf chips. (Sounds gross.)

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