Monday, September 28, 2015

Turtle, Turtle...

Years ago I had a three foot wide clump of Turtle Head (Chelone obliqua). It was gorgeous when it flowered in mid-September. The rest of the time it was a mass of boring leaves taking up precious garden space. So on a whim, I yanked it all out for something more worthy.

Because I'm a bit weird, last year I planted a little four-inch pot of Turtle Head. Have I changed my mind? Do I like it now? I guess so. This past April, not remembering where I had planted it, I thought it might have been dead because I couldn't find it anywhere. Eventually I figured out that the little insignificant-leaved plant that had popped up between a vast clump of Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' and a generous spread of 'David' Phlox (P. paniculata) was indeed my little Turtle Head. Gold star for plant placement, I mumbled to myself. The thing almost died from lack of water in July and finally a few weeks ago, pink blossoms appeared! Not very many but enough to tell me it's a survivor. 

Chelone obliqua

There are other plants that behave the same way. Sedum spectable, Asters (are we still calling them "Asters"?) and Japanese Anemones come to mind--green until bloom time. I've gotten over it. In fact, I kind of like it. The idea that something fresh and lovely takes its time getting here. Gives me something to look forward to. 

Sedum spectable 'Autumn Joy'

Sedum 'Autumn Charm'

Aster novi-belgii 'Coombe Margaret' riding on a wisp of Miscanthus.

Aster novae-angliae 'Alma Potschke'

Aster novi-belgii 'Bahamas'

Aster novi-belgii 'Wood's Purple'

And its nice that the bees love them.

Anemone japonica 'September Charm'
 I've got a few re-blooming Clematis to charm the September garden:

Clematis texensis 'Pagoda'

Clematis viticella 'Confetti'

Alstroemeria x 'Tri-Color' is also re-blooming!
I hope you're enjoying your gardens!


  1. I enjoy your stories about disappearing, misplace, surviving plants, Grace. I've had similar experiences, and this year, I'm thinking I need to document my new perennial additions so I'll be ready for next spring. Also, I think I'll create a diagram of the cutting garden because I was mostly pleased with how it turned out this year. I saw some Turtlehead plants at the botanical garden the other day and found myself thinking, "What a lovely late-season bloomer!"

  2. I got so excited seeing your sedum "Autumn Joy!" I have the same experience with mine....kind of a big bla...until now, when it is just lovely as it deepens its color each day it seems. And your comments about Japanese Anenome resonated too as they are taking over a big chuck of my perennial bed. I can get a couple of months of their happiness. Now I have to figure out how much to pull out as they sure spread (by underground runners it seems?) Tough little buggers to pull out. Yes, a big Yes, for enjoying the garden now--everything, including the crisp, sunny fall days, is just perfect!

  3. Anything that comes on late to extend the season is a winner in my book...even if it hogs a bit of prime real estate before getting there.

  4. I don't mind giving some garden space to late bloomers. I've never grown Chelone though. I've heard it likes a wet spot, and I'm trying to work lots more drought-tolerant plants into my garden.

  5. I'd be very happy if I had so many late September blooms (although my pink Eustoma/Lisianthus are STILL going strong). I love plants that pop up long after they've been forgotten - it's a delightful surprise. This week my rain lilies bloomed for the first time. I knew where I'd planted them but I'd completely given up hope that they'd ever make an appearance but, after unexpected rain in September, suddenly there they were.

  6. Hello Grace
    J'aime beaucoup les clématites, de vraies beautés ;-)
    Belle journée à vous

  7. Hi Grace! It gives me hope that my own Turtle somehow survived. I haven't seen it since last summer, I mean summer-2014. I should look around!

  8. I had turtlehead a few years back, but it gave up when it realized that I was not going to provide enough water to keep it happy. Drought tolerant is for me! Still, I had forgotten just how pretty those flowers are. I'll enjoy yours instead.

  9. Gracie girl that pale pink aster has me totally in love with it !
    I am making a note to plant more aster and anemone with double flowers .. they are so pretty !
    I am in the midst of digging up plants and moving them so it is unreal here until I get as much straightened out as I can and put the garden to bed for the winter ... talk about utter chaos!!
    Beautiful plants and pictures girl !
    Take care

  10. So pretty! Every spring, never fails, all the flowers start to bloom here and then a big frost comes and kills them! I wish they'd bloom and stay that way for much longer. But even a short period of time is better than nothing.


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