Fewer and even more appreciated: late season wonders

My potted salvia would like to take over the world.

I do not have the greatest of September gardens. My urban space is more calibrated to midsummer, the time of Garden Walk, lilies, and many flowering perennials. I also love my garden in spring, when it’s taken over by tulips and other bulbs. But by this point in the season, I’ve grown weary of watering, staking, and deadheading and am beginning to appreciate the break that winter provides.

That’s not to say that this time of year doesn’t provide its own lush beauty. Colocasia have grown and multiplied to provide immense sculptural canopies. Coleus are equally explosive, dwarfing their unseen pots.  While some flowering annuals have given up the ghost, this is definitely salvia’s time. And, of course, a number of midsummer perennials are still providing blooms.

Just one on David Austin ‘Charlotte’

Do I regret not planting Knock Outs instead of roses like this David Austin that is currently featuring one, gorgeous, fragrant bloom? I do not. I’ll take my one rose over ten KOs covered in boringness. The DAs will produce, sparingly, throughout October, and I’ll enjoy them despite, or even because of, the minimal output.

solidago caesia

And what about this delicate spire of solidago caesia? I have some showier varieties yet to come but this is the daintiest solidago I’ve yet seen and I’m glad I planted it. An unknowing visitor would barely notice it; it’s one of those you have to (annoyingly) point out.

This is also the time I appreciate the boehmeria, which is now producing its weird, pipe-cleaner-like flowers and, always, my hydrangea paniculata varieties, which own late summer around here.

It’s a time that allows one to focus, to look with a certain degree of awe at just this, this one amazing thing.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. At this point I am happy for Black cohash, aka cimifuga aka Actaea, asters, phlox, perennial sunflowers, hibiscus and autumn sedum.

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