An end, a beginning

What a strange and fitting ending to the season this week has been. We return from a holiday to heat and humidity, which then turns sharply into a storm (the outskirts of Hurricane Michael) and this is followed by the transformation of October from Indian Summer to truly fall.

We scurried about on this short week to cart in as much of the container collection as we could. If you visited the gardens this week, you may have thought us crazy to be moving plants inside on an 80 degree day. We were willing to accept this criticism. Rain was coming and we didn’t intend to wait a few days for the weather to turn just to heave in plants that weighed twice as much as usual. To that end, all of the tropical plants and many of our largest containers were the first to enter their winter habitat (the greenhouses). This was followed by the collection plants that do not enjoy heavy rain. Now that we had our eyes on the prize, we moved in as many of the other containers as we could before the rain really began to fall in earnest.

In the midst of all this activity, I keep returning to the glory of the garden in October. Everything is so lush and full and…slow. Plants overflowing with flowers sway in the air and are often weighed to the ground with the morning dew. The wand flower (Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’) in the Display Gardens is hypnotic to watch dance on the breeze. It is also adored by bumble bees.

The bees are a bit more sluggish these days. I often arrive at work to find the bumble bees still asleep on the flowers, waiting for the sun to warm them, while the honey bees have yet to emerge from the comfort of the hive. Once they are awake, they buzz happily from bloom to bloom. Listening to this subtle symphony is a highlight of being in the gardens in October.

Aster with bumble bee

They don’t even mind sharing a pollen source with one another. Dahlia ‘Mystic Spirit’ in the North Garden is pictured below with four happy bumble bees feeding from its pollen.

Next week we begin the process of preparing the gardens for bulb planting. Often this means cutting back perennials and removing annuals and tender perennials. We will keep an eye on the weather and do our best to leave as many blooms for pollinators as we can. With that in mind, I want to show off some of my favorite plants currently in bloom in the gardens.

Salvia ‘Mysty’

Cosmos ‘Cupcakes Mix’

I often see visitors surprised at the amount of flowers in bloom in the gardens in October. For many plants, the milder temperatures are exactly what they have been craving and they reward us with a stunning end of season display. Stop by the gardens this weekend to see everything still in bloom.

[The Featured Image at the top of the blog is trumpet spurflower (Isodon longitubus)]