coDid you miss me? I spent a week in Maine. While there, I was fortunate to visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden near Boothbay. I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in Maine on vacation. The garden is planted in a typical coastal Maine environment – large granite rocks and outcroppings, conifers, and along an inlet. Stunning!
I have people emailing me and writing “What am I doing wrong? My plants look horrible.” Join the club. They are tired. They have given their all and now need to relax until cooler weather. If they look really bad, you can cut them back. I cut my geraniums (really Pelargoniums in the professional horticultural world) down to the ground and they will come back and bloom all winter long. You can root the cuttings to get more plants by dipping the ends in rooting hormone powder (available at box stores) and placing the cuttings in planting mix – I use Miracle Gro seed starting mix and add perlite for drainage. Make the cut just below a leaf and remove any flowers or buds. Be patient. You will have lovely new geraniums soon.
I am cutting my Salvias way down to new leaves on the stems. When the weather gets a bit cooler, I will fertilize them for some autumn growth and color. Roses can be cut back and fertilized now. I use David Austin rose food available from their USA website. Just about every plant can benefit from a hair cut right now. Me too.
Now is also a great time to assess your garden and see what is planted too close together. Do not wait until spring because you will not remember where things were. I plan on moving many plants when the cooler weather arrives. Look for the Mayflower Moving Van outside of my fence! Now is the time to correct my OOPS and move things that are not doing well or being crowded out.
There are two things to look forward to in an autumn garden – Senna (Senna wislizeni) and Confederate Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis). Senna can grow to 8-10 feet tall and has masses of bright yellow flowers. We used to call it Cassia and some people refer to it by the old name. The laxative Senna is made from the pods. Senna has weak roots so plant them away from strong winds. Mine tend to move around quite a bit and I find new seedlings popping up. I just dig them up and plant them where I want them and not where they choose to grow. I also have popcorn Senna – the blossoms smell like fresh buttered popcorn. Senna is a host plant for Cloudless Sulphur butterflies—those yellow fluttering ones you see everywhere!
Confederate rose is not a rose and is native to China. It is a member of the hibiscus family so the flowers only last one day. They are usually pink and fade to white. They can be cut down every year to keep them manageable.
My advice is to be patient this month, do some planning and trimming, and wait until the cooler weather to really get out there and enjoy your garden.