Rounding 3rd Base In The Garden
My father was a baseball fan so I attribute my perspective of looking at summer in Richmond, Virginia as a ball player views the field of bases. The month of May is home plate where we are fresh and ready for the run of summer. June is first base and we round 2nd base in July. Third base is August, we are getting a bit winded but keep going knowing that home plate, or autumn, is just down the base line. The cooler temperatures will greet us as we slide into September knowing our gardens made it through the humidity, the heat and the sporadic rainfall once again. Along the run, different plants greet us in our gardens and at third base the blossoms of Helenium autumnale and Anemone hupehensis var. japonica signal that summer is coming to an end and autumn is just around the bend.
Sneezeweed, Helenium autumnale, is native to the eastern half of North America. This perennial is found growing in acidic soil in low-lying areas. The plant is tolerant to a wide variety of soils from moist soil to wet areas. Adding compost to your garden will provide the soil conditions this plant needs to grow well. Fertilize sparingly to prevent Helenium from growing too tall. Another method to reduce the need to stake this 3'-5' tall plant is to prune it to half the height at the beginning of June. This will force the plant to branch out, reducing the final height of plant in addition to increasing the number of flowers for your enjoyment. Removing spent blossoms will ensure the plant blooms until frost.
Japanese anemones, Anemone hupehensis var. japonica, are perfect for the shade garden as they thrive in full to partial shade in central Virginia’s acidic soil. Adding compost to the garden will provide the rich soil and proper nutrients these plants need to form large clumps of deep green foliage with white or soft pink flowers held on wiry stems 2' above. With few pests and diseases to hamper growth, these plants become established in just a few seasons and will provide years of enjoyment.
To learn more about late season plants for your garden come to Maymont and follow Marie’s Butterfly Trail down the hill from the farm or through the courtyard garden behind the Carriage House.