Late Summer

Late summer at Chickadee Gardens means being extremely busy. All that food we are growing needs harvesting and preservation of some kind. Weeding and watering continues, as does general clean-up and regular planting of odds and ends to fill in gaps. Also, it is a time of year when I begin to evaluate the garden and decide what changes I shall make in the coming months. Plus, we have a few small projects brewing, more on those in another post. Busy busy busy, but the evening light these past few evenings has been lovely, so I took the opportunity to take a break and walk about with camera in hand. Here's what much of the garden looks like mid-September:

 The evening sun lightly reflects off of a very large Salvia o. 'Purpurascens'. 

 Calendula 'Strawberry Blonde' from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds bloomed all summer and got out of control (height). I chopped it back and now it is in a second glorious flush of bloom. Plus, I see many seedlings all over the place, which I welcome.

Looking north through the edge of the gravel garden and fire pit. Tall, spiky Muhlenbergia rigens or deer grass is looking splendid around the fire pit. This grass, which is essentially evergreen (although I've been experimenting and cutting it back in late winter for refreshed growth), really shines in late summer all through winter. It's adaptable to a range of soil and water situations, too.

Cosmos atrosanguineus, chocolate cosmos in front of a variegated yucca.

Hebe (from Western Hills) I show yet again because it's just so easy with virtually no water and it always looks smart. I have a few in full sun at the top of the berm garden where they have good drainage.

Verbascum blattaria and its seeds. I yank out a fair amount of these, but leave some mainly for their seed structure. It adds something to the garden.

 Caryopteris 'Dark Knight' is one of the best late season flowering plants, providing the bees with pollen and nectar. I cut it back by about a third in late winter/early spring and it responded with significantly more blooms. 

 Sedum 'Stardust' in the foreground as the sun goes down.

Begonia grandis subsp. evansiana 'Alba' in the evening light. This has seeded about a little bit, a great hardy begonia for the Pacific Northwest.

Sedum 'Matrona', just fabulous. It stays reliably upright for me and is a super magnet for honeybees.

Artemisia 'Silver Brocade' sited in full sun with little to no water.

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' in the evening light. This tall beauty had great color last autumn, I hope it has a repeat performance this year.

 Grasses caught in the evening light. Stipa gigantea surrounded by Carex comans 'Frosted Curls' with Miscanthus sinensis 'Cabaret' closest to the house.

Allium senescens ssp. montanum var. glaucum (whew...what a mouthfull) is a late-blooming small allium (just 6" high) especially nice at the front of the border. I saw a lot of this on the Broad Walk at Kew Gardens last autumn.

Looking north through the meadow. The grass is dormant but the recent rains have already started to turn it green again.

Just a nice view looking west past the driveway.

This area where the river rocks are has been challenging. I've planted a few things here that either did not thrive or died all together. My solution for dead plants lately has been not to replace them as I'm finding I need more visual gaps as plants outgrow their allotted spaces. Here I opted to extend the dry river bed out a few feet. Easy enough to do as we have about a 6" layer of these river rocks in our soil as a ribbon of them runs through the property. I think a real stream went through here at some point.

The meadow, although frothy and without structure (now), is still a source of carefree pleasure.

Solidago 'Fireworks' really does look like fireworks. This is a fairly large stand of them and they do seed around this general area, so I have allowed it to grow as I have the room to do so. This is so valuable for late season color and for pollinators when few other plant are freshly in bloom right now.

Olearia lineata 'Dartonii' is an evergreen shrub with an ephemeral presence. It adds structure and winter interest without being a solid mass.

Facilities Manager built me these three tepees for which I have plans. If it works out, I'll post a photo next time.

The veggie garden has yielded much food this summer to us and the critters. Here, a self-sown sunflower (well, more likely a bird-sown sunflower) looks as if it's looking at me upside-down. Flowers in the veggie garden make us very happy.

There is a mystery grape planted on our fence that was uncovered when FM cleared the area for veggie production. Even if they are a bit on the tart side (and with seeds), the chickens appreciate them.

Another grape with darker leaves, Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea' has struggled until now. Finally it puts on a little growth.

Lastly, one of four delicious 'Honeycrisp' apples - that were delicious. OH MY GOSH. I can't wait for the bigger crops. The orchard is just barely beginning to yield a bit of fruit.

Much of the garden is crispy from just general late summer dryness. Much of it looks good still for two reasons: FM waters for me on the hottest of days, and, two, we have primarily plants adapted to our dry summers. Moles have been a huge issue for me this year, however, wreaking havoc in the veggie garden, undermining poor little plants and also in the shade garden where the tunnels are so plentiful the whole garden is raised up so you can hardly see them. If you walk on the soil it all squishes down with big tunnels underneath your feet. Hopefully some critters will take care of them and balance will be restored as our efforts to trap them have failed miserably.

All in all, I have to say it's been a pleasant, mild summer with very few hot days. We've actually had a bit of rain which was welcome, very welcome. I love hot summer days, but I love a good summer rainstorm, too.

Well, that's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens as summer winds down and autumn is nearly upon us. Thank you so much for reading and for commenting, we love hearing from you and knowing what you are up to this late summer in your own gardens. Do share! Happy gardening!


  1. All the grasses really provide that wispy look so appreciated in Fall. We have had a very cool wet summer so all of our veggies and fruit are ready at the same time. Lots of picking and processing. A tip to try for your moles: Find their tunnels and put a dryer sheet in each tunnel. They don't like the smell and move away. Works on our pocket gophers.

    1. Picking and processing, that's the name of the game for so many of us! I will definitely try the dryer sheet in the mole hole - I'll do anything at this point. Thanks for the tip.

  2. So many beautiful photos Tamara, and I can't wait to see what the tepees are for...

    1. Thank you Danger...I can't wait either! Not that big of a deal but I think it will look cool.

  3. Wonderful, as always!

    Artemisia 'Silver Brocade' is one of my absolute favorites. I had two, but one bit it; I think I was fussing about too much cleaning the area up early in the spring. The one I have is currently glorious, though. I love the prostrate growth. It makes a sort of ground cover. (Actually, I usually cut back the more upright flower spikes.) The remaining one made a baby about a foot away form the mother plant. Yay! And, finally, the nursery got some back in stock, so I bought a few more. : )

    Oh, I - do - go on, don't I?! About one silly plant! Hehe.

    1. One **silly** plant? NEVER. No plant is silly, nor any amount of admiration for it. That Artemisia is fantastic. Buy multiples of what you love, especially if it does well for you in your garden. The prostrate growth is fantastic, I agree. :)

  4. At a time of year when most gardens in the Northern Hemisphere are looking at least a little sad, yours looks beautiful (despite the moles). I love that meadow.

    1. You are too kind, Kris. There are sad parts but I have cleverly edited them out...hee hee...

      The meadow is pretty cool, I must admit. It's amazing when caught in the morning or evening sun, especially.

  5. What color did the 'Lemon Queen' foliage turn last fall? I went looking in your archives but got distracted by other beauties...

    1. Hi Nell, I have a photo of it from fall 2017 on the blog - here's a link:

    2. Thanks! That is color to hope for, from a most unexpected source.

  6. What a fabulous life you've created for yourselves--house, garden, and soul. Cheers

    1. We have, thank you for your kind words, Patricia :) Cheers to you too!

  7. I think we are at about the same time in Sept that Loree brought Gerhard and I to see your garden (and the lunch !!!) and I found it particularly lovely at this point in the year-everything just sort of billowing and bountiful. I look forward to your fall reports and the presentation of the teepee project.!

    1. I was just remembering that, it has been a year because yesterday was the HPSO fall sale.

      Thank you for your kind words, billowing and bountiful are words I like....I might borrow them from you ;)


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