The Weekly Gardener 1

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Officially Fall

The End of September

White Roses

With temperatures stubbornly stuck in the eighties and nineties I would have missed the beginning of fall this year but for the garden following its own internal clock: warmth or no warmth, once we passed the fall equinox, everything in the flower and vegetable border slowed down production.

The autumn faithfuls, the stonecrops, are putting up a good show with their gradual color change from chartreuse to dark brown but everything else got the message that it's time to retire for the season.

Everything but this glorious miniature rose, you should see it float above the messy landscape, it looks like it was placed on top if it after the fact.

I don't understand what actually triggers the sudden shift, it must be the light levels or the altitude of the sun or something, the garden always knows best.

It's time to start planning for next year, so I'm trying to focus on finding spring bulbs and moving early blooming perennials. We need more daffodils, we always need more daffodils.

The weather forecast promised a wave of chilly air next week, but there is no sign of it yet. So far September unfolded according to its regular pattern - warm, sunny and dry.

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David

White Garden Phlox

Roses are not the only flowers who got a second wind this fall, a solitary phlox sprung back to life, encouraged by sunshine and summer like temperatures.

Phlox is a must have in a temperate climate garden, especially if you have clay soil. There aren't many perennials that bloom all season long, are fragrant, like alkaline soils and require so little maintenance. The clumps are very long lived, once they get established they thrive for decades and their bloom improves with each passing year. They tend to get quite large if they have enough room, five feet tall by four feet in diameter.

The mature plants produce black seeds vaguely reminiscent of peppercorns, which sprout eager volunteers every spring. The seedlings respond very well to relocation, I have populated all the flower beds with progeny from one large plant.

The scent of this delightful perennial is at its best during sweltering evenings or on stormy days, right before a summer downpour, and the white variety in the picture, named David, is exceptionally fragrant. You may not believe this, but I actually followed its scent all the way from the front door of the plant nursery to the last shelf against the back wall in order to find it.

Unlike the purple breed which produces generous bunches of flowers from June to November, the white one only blooms once in July, but it looks like this one decided to break with tradition and surprise me.