Early Autumn

The last few weeks have seen the coldest September day on record in Portland. The cold and rain seemed unseasonably early, frustratingly so. Last weekend, however, we could finally exclaim "Oh, joy, the sun is here!" and with more normal temperatures, we may work in the garden again. It's been lovely working outside, early autumn can be glorious, after all.

The fire pit and surrounding grasses shine this time of year. Colors are subtle in this part of the garden.

Amsonia hubrichtii is beginning to turn its signature colors, which stand out with asters in the background.

The edge of the labyrinth is especially frothy with many asters, grasses and echinacea with a front of the border edging of evergreen dianthus, lavender and Teucrium chamaedrys for a little structure.

Looking through the gravel garden, Panicum 'Northwind' on the left, the top of the thyme field in the lower center.

Agastache foeniculum or anise hyssop, even after the flowers are spent, the seed heads add visual weight against a sea of fluffy things.

A Japanese maple in the background is one of the first to turn colors in autumn. In the foreground, Itea 'Henry's Garnet' adds to the show in the steep berm garden.

Hebe cupressoides looks like a miniature cypress, hence the name. It is one of my favorite hebes, even though I have lost two in the past. Hebes are funny that way, sometimes they just up and die. Still, I wouldn't be without them.

Phlomis russeliana, long after the blooms have come and gone, is one of my favorite plants for this, i.e., dots in the border that last through winter into spring.

A wide shot of the top of the berm garden on the left and the shade garden on the right. I have been working on edging beds this year, helping to define areas and give a crisper look. It's a lot of work but the results are quite satisfying.

At the edge of the labyrinth looking toward the vegetable garden and orchard.

A cosmos that my friend Janet Loughrey gave me as a seedling. They start off dark red and fade to shades of cerise.

Nothing says autumn quite like corn stalks.

Miscanthus s. 'Cabaret' always looks smashing. I adore this large warm-weather grass. It is surrounded by many evergreen shrubs as well as Sedum 'Starlight', a white upright form.

A Japanese maple that was on the property (one of three), that has taken off after a little t.l.c. It is one of the first to turn colors in autumn.

Stipa gigantea shines in the sun on both sides of a gravel path that leads to my blue shed.

Lobelia tupa, although the flowers are long gone, still has a stately presence.

Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' 

Muhlenbergia rigens, deer grass.

Upright sedum (likely 'Carl' or 'Brilliant') next to Cotinus 'Pink Champagne'.

Salix eleagnos var. angustifolia foliage.

A lovely agave from Loree of Danger Garden, likely Agave salmiana, is doing well in the warmest, sunniest part of the garden.

The tripods are going to stay, at least through autumn and winter. I like that they add some dark weight without being overpowering. I considered planting something evergreen to add structure such as boxwood or yew, but I am unconvinced it would look right here. Suggestions are welcome.

View through the labyrinth garden to the neighbor's barn.

The berm garden taking on some warm colors.

Looking past the gravel and labyrinth gardens.

I am really enjoying these warm days of autumn, nothing like a warm day and crisp nights to energize this gardener. That's a good thing because we are in high gear getting the garden ready for some photographers to visit in a week. More on that another time, don't want to give away too much, for sometimes these things don't always work out. At any rate, that's the reason we've been so preoccupied, getting it photo-ready in October. That's no easy task, especially when autumn is supposed to be a time to wrap things up, move plants and add new ones, put the veggie garden to bed and start planning for next year. I suppose we'll get to all of that in a few weeks. For now, we carry on.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you!


  1. There is something so tranquil and languid about a Fall garden as it winds down. Love the tall grasses and especially the Japanese maples. How I would love to be able to grow those here.

    1. Aaah, tranquil indeed. The sun at a lower angle and all the golds coming on make it really lovely, for the most part. Japanese maples are special, even here where they are a ubiquitous tree...we still adore them.

  2. Autumn in your garden is beautiful, Tamara. I love all the seed heads. I usually jump too early to cut down flower stalks in my garden but must remember that they add a charm all their own. As my climate is so different (the Santa Ana winds are currently threatening to warm things up again) I'm probably ill-suited to provide suggestions for screening - here I'd add a nice tall Leucadendron like 'Wilson's Wonder' or 'Chief'.

    Best wishes with the photography session!

    1. Thank you Kris! Seed heads I've had to learn to leave them. I'm always so happy I do - especially when I see birds eating them and bopping around or frost on them in winter. Thanks for the SoCal suggestion, I would do it if I lived in your zone, for sure! I"d love to grow Leucadendron, such a cool plant, I envy yours.

  3. This time of year always makes me sad, watching our beloved plants tire out and go to sleep. But when the sun is out, I handle it better. :) Your garden is lovely as always.

    1. Me too, Grace. Sunshine makes it better, for sure. Let's hope for a glorious autumn.

  4. Anonymous3:58 PM PDT

    The Stipa gtigantea is so difficult to photograph but you have captured its essence. The moody shot of the fire pit area you opened with is just plain dreamy. Those photographers are in for a treat.

    1. Thank you so much! Your words are very kind to this tired soul.

  5. Can I ask what the plants are surrounding your stipa gigantea? I'm planning on planting one in the spring and mulling possible companions.

    1. Hi there, sure - in one bed I have three surrounded by Carex comans 'Frosty Curls' and in the one in this photo is a Rhamnus alaternus ‘Variegata’ and a nepeta - that's just by chance, it wasn't planned. Other areas where I have Stipa g. they are surrounded by Salvia microphylla and various penstemons and asters.

  6. I was going to say everything is looking picture perfect, but didn't want to give too much away.


Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments! I love hearing them, I will approve comments as soon as I can. Yay!

Popular Posts