As the summer draws to an end and the trees take on tinges of red, there are still delights and surprises in the garden. One of the most reliable is Ligularia dentata ‘Desdemona.’ Ever since planting a small rooted division given to me by my friend Marla Hazen a few years ago, our ligularia continues to spread out luxuriously and shoot up big dashes of brilliant, long-lasting yellow every late summer/early fall. It’s happy in the damp shade of the pond edge, and the huge, burgundy-tinted leaves with zig-zag edges are interesting all season. What more could you ask for?
At the end of the season last year I bought a potted Tibouchina urvilleana that I found on the sale table at Kent Nursery on Route 7 in Connecticut. I’d never heard of this tropical plant, but was intrigued by its pink-tinged, variegated leaves. It was $6 and looked liked it needed rescuing. The woman at the cash register assured me it would have large purple blooms. Did it ever, and now it’s ready for propagation via softwood cuttings. In any season, Kent Nursery is worth a stop by any gardener taking the scenic route to or from the Berkshires.
The real stars of the garden now are the anemones. I try plants out one by one, see what languishes here and what makes itself a comfortable home. It sure looks like Anemones x hybrida (Japanese anemones) will be worth investing in to fill more dull, partially shaded spots with long-lasting drifts of pink and white and their cheerful yellow centers.
It’s almost time to start focusing on next year. Over the next several weeks I’ll be dividing, moving, trimming, and deciding which container plants to dump in the compost bin and which to over-winter in the greenhouse. I’ve started the clean-up process by investing a few hours in trimming the hostas. The spent flower stalks look really messy, and clipping them down seems to give these hardy plants a second life, even as the edges of the leaves begin to yellow. I’m already thinking of the moment in spring when the tightly-wrapped, triangular shoots begin to poke through the earth.