September color

As much as I love the freshness of a June garden, September is my favorite month. Some visitors seem surprised that we “still” have so much color but I can’t imagine it any other way. The gentle light and the beautiful cool blue days demand that we be outside reveling in exuberant color. We definitely plan for this time of year (in truth, for the whole summer into fall season) to be stupendous but it doesn’t take much – a few annuals like zinnias, ageratum, and alyssum; and a handful of tender perennials like dahlias, salvias, angelonia, and plectranthus and you’re golden. Or the garden is in any case, especially in the slanted light of September. Even with roses, delphinium, asters, and euphorbia (re)blooming in the Rose Garden, it wouldn’t be nearly as spectacular without the annuals and tender perennials giving them a boost. I know a lot of gardeners choose not to buy plants that won’t survive the winter outside but I think those plants are worth every penny (and seed annuals like zinnias really do just cost pennies) because they’re the ones that carry the garden so effortlessly past its usual early summer peak well into the prettiest months of all.

And of course, some of them can survive the winter and carry whatever we spent on them into the next season too (and the next after that and the next…) We’ve started taking cuttings of some of our favorites like porterweed (Stachytarpheta mutabilis), cigar plant (Cuphea spp.) and heliotrope. We’re lucky to have the greenhouse for overwintering them but sunny windowsills would work too.

Is your garden as colorful as you’d like it to be this month? Do you use annuals and tender perennials too or do rely on late-blooming hardy perennials and shrubs? For a look at a whole world of colorful September blooms, check out May Dreams Gardens Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (September 15).