Year-round, I sometimes comment that my favorite season is the one that’s arriving. But if I had to pick one, perhaps fall would be it.
This year, I’m especially not missing the humidity that accompanied the frequent rain, and the mosquitoes that arrived with those conditions. Now I can work outside more comfortably in my pants, long sleeves and a new mosquito net over my sun hat.
My Japanese anemones are captivating this year, blooming from mid-August through September. The sky often doesn’t provide as much water as they would prefer, but this year they are very happy. In my garden which abuts our back property line, they can spread as much as they want.
My back border is most often viewed at a distance, so I include big plants that won’t get lost. Peonies are the backbone of this garden, a couple with attractive fall foliage. I grow several varieties of these, to extend their bloom time. This year there were no bloom gaps in mid-summer: balloon flowers, gay feather and brilliant red Crocosmia supplemented the coneflowers in the far back of the border. Even though the anemones are not native, I observe bees constantly feeding on these wide-open flowers, which are easy for bees to access. This plant has been growing in this country since the late 1700s.
There are several plants that use the name anemone. In addition to this Japanese one, there is a spring-blooming bulb hardy enough to grow here, anemone blanda. Since it is a small corm, it should be mulched to prevent it from being heaved out of the ground during a winter thaw. It may be available from fall bulb suppliers now for planting, though I’ve read that some bulbs are in short supply this year.
Anemone sylvestris, sometimes called snowdrop windflower, blooms in early spring with white flowers. It can be quite aggressive in moist conditions. Anemone quinquefolia, also called American wood anemone, is native to North America, also has white flowers and can spread aggressively. I inherited this latter plant when we purchased our current property, but removed it as it choked out some desired plants.
All of these anemones are also called windflowers, so it can be confusing. In addition, there are a couple of attractive anemones that are not winter hardy here, including anemones De Cano and Fulgens. These tender plants are sometimes sold as annuals in colder climates.
My New York Aster, which is 3 feet tall, has just started to bloom. While I’ve had it a few years, I’ve moved it a couple of times, searching for the right balance between sun and moisture. The ones in the fields seem so care-free, but I’ve struggled to succeed with this plant in my garden. A fuscia colored obedient plant spreading happily in the shady back corner, is one of the last to start blooming.
Julie Brocklehurst-Woods has been a Master Gardener Volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Livingston County since 2002. She enjoys helping all gardeners become successful gardeners, especially helping people identify tools and strategies to prioritize and simplify their gardening tasks. She will answer gardening questions by email: JulieBW48@gmail.com.