Six on Saturday – 7/09/19

A week into September, the first Saturday in September, which means I should be looking at my long list of ”Fall Gardening Tasks’ – it’s a list I’ve been keeping since 2005. Often items carry on from year to year: Thin out trees on east side of driveway; Cut down buckthorn along fenceline, etc. Some of the tasks are more doable: Do compost; Transplant tiny Hosta. There’s a list for Spring Gardening Tasks as well, often it contains the same tasks that should have been done the previous fall.

That brings us to this week’s group of Six on Saturday – six things in the garden – plant or otherwise. Gardeners around the world join this photographic exposition – you can see them all by clicking this link to our host, The Propagator.

1 – It’s a New Bed! (You need to say that with the exaggerated enthusiastic voice of a television game show host.) A tiny bed, now ticked off my Fall Gardening Tasks list, created by tacking on a semi-circle to the end of an existing bed below the side patio. I dug up a clump of red leaved Sedum Spectabile in the spring (it was on the Spring Task list) – it was being overtaken by other things – and had it in a pot all summer. It needed a place to call home, as did some Echinacea paradoxa seedlings I had been given a few months ago.

New bed, with red Sedum clumps on either end.
Close up. I don’t know the variety of this Sedum – any ideas?

2 – I let common milkweed take root here and there throughout the property – it’s a food source for the monarch butterfly caterpillar. Less well known, it’s also a food source for the Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillar. Quite a cute thing, looking like a striped toothbrush head. They travel in large groups, it seems, and can devour an entire milkweed plant in a day or so. Here’s a closeup of a solitary specimen, and the aftermath of a feast day:

3 – I have a large clump of tall ornamental grass near the back porch, beside the herb garden. It’s the beneficiary of a rain barrel overflow pipe so it’s very happy. Come the fall rains, though, it often winds up like this, following an overnight rain:

4 – All the sunflowers growing this year are volunteers from a previous year’s seed pack. Many are tall, multi-branching plants with the lower branches breaking off under the weight of the developing flowers and seeds. I like this one because it’s straight, about eight feet tall, with no branches at all. Just a few smallish flowers on top:

5 – I ordered a named Sweet Pea this year for the first time – Earl Grey – the flower is a lovely lilac shade with darker purple veins. It started off slow but took off in July and produced tons of blooms I let many go to seed so that next year I can have masses of them:

6 – Finally, if it’s September there must be Asters, right? Here is the native New England Aster (I won;t bother with the rather long and new Latin name) now starting. I don’t have an image of it next to the yellow Goldenrod but trust me, it’s stunning. Maybe next week…


    1. The asters get tall and leggy, even following an early July ‘Chelsea chop,’ so the challenge, for me, is to encourage them (via seed scattering) in places they’ll be supported and half hidden…but not choked out.

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  1. That caterpillar is amazing! Mind you those look like warning bristles to me, I don’t think I would handle it in a hurry. Lovely sedum, sorry I don’t know which one it is. Sunflowers are always a joy. Your weather looks wonderful, such a blue sky.

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    1. The weather has been stunningly wonderful the past few weeks, although the garden would say, if it could talk, ‘water please.’ I’ve read that the colouring of the caterpillar is indeed a warning to potential predators – the juices of milkweed are toxic so likely the caterpillar innards are also toxic…

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  2. Neat little caterpillar, the whole cat to butterfly thing still amazes me. I love those Asters and the new botanical name – couldn’t hope to spell it. I am not sure of the necessity of all the botanical wrangling. That is a beautiful sedum and I am not a fan of those. Those lists…I was thinking of making one, but probably won’t.

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  3. Are the sedum left through winter? When we learned about them in school, we were told that some like how the blackened floral trusses look against the snow. Well, that only works where there is snow. I always left mine because I thought should. They are overrated here. don’t know the cultivars. ‘Autumn Joy’ is the standard for us. Others are uncommon.
    It is nice that your native asters are so pretty. Chaparral species are not like that.

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  4. Lovely sedum and sunflowers. I was thinking about planting some sunflower seeds but couldn’t dare to do so as I don’t have any experience with them. That caterpillar is very cute!

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