Fall Fragrances

Flower scents are more commonly associated with Spring, but this Fall, my garden plants are really full of fragrances. The Sweet Olive, Osmanthus fragrans, bloomed with a multitude of tiny flowers that completely filled the yard with their strong scent.

I am having my house painted and the painters apparently, spent the day trying to figure out which plant was making the wonderful perfume that could be smelled over the paint odor.

The climbing rose prefers to bloom when the weather cools.  It attracts the bees and hummingbirds. The scent becomes strong at different times of the day.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Gingers have been reblooming with sweet scents.  This one is Maximun Hedychium.

The Evening Primrose, Oenothera grandiflora, is hanging on with its unusual scented blooms lasting longer in the cooler weather.  I don’t know if it was the heavy rains we had that stimulated these plants to flower more, but it has been a Fall filled with fragrances.


Perfect Primrose – Bartram’s Oenothera grandiflora

William Bartram’s Oenothera grandiflora has had a good year in the Automatic Garden and it may be because the rabbit that habitually ate the plant has moved on.  It is otherwise known as Evening Primrose and blooms as the sun sets.  I spotted this perfect full cluster early in the morning, grabbed my camera and headed out in my jammies to get a shot before the yellow blooms closed.  With the humidity near 90%, I had to continually wipe the moisture from my lens to get a clear photo.

I originally got the seeds at Bartram’s Garden in 2009 with a note on the packet that germination requirements are unknown and if you figure it out, you’ll get a free packet of seeds.  I figured it out and took on the challenge, growing the Evening Primrose in garden beds and flower pots out of the rabbit’s reach for the last ten years. I have been successful and harvest enough seeds for the next year’s Evening Primroses.


Spring Has Begun Part II

More early Spring bloomers include this red Canna.

A surprise blooming plant for this time of year is Oenothera grandiflora or Evening Primrose that was collected by William Bartram in 1775 in Alabama and grown in his Philadelphia nursery.  Normally, this plant blooms in the late summer or early fall.  I think some of the seeds germinated early during this warmer winter.  I found it blooming in three locations and the plant was shorter than usual.

The orange Tassel Flower, Emillia coccinea, has been maturing all winter and is now blooming. I thought I read somewhere that it was related to a dandelion, but it does not reseed like one.

A true Spring ritual in this part of the country is the blooming of Azaleas.  I was surprised to see some opening already.  All our big Azalea Trails are usually the second week in March, so hopefully they can hold off until then.

February is the start of Spring around here and a time to trim back Crepe Myrtles, Roses and start cleaning out beds. The trees that lost their leaves are budding out.  And best of all the days are getting longer and evenings on the patio can be enjoyed.


Morning Scents

I was in the garden earlier than usual one morning and was pleasantly greeted by the strong scents of my blooming gingers. This one is Hedychium hybred “Pink V.

My most reliable ginger that has been with me for many years is Butterfly Ginger, Hedychium coronarium, which I believe has the strongest scent and can be detected from across the backyard.  I had a neighbor that told me she could smell it as she walked by the front of my house. The plants bloom in the Spring and Autumn.

Because it was early morning, I was able to catch the scent of the Four O’Clocks, which bloom in the early evening.  These flowers have a wonderful fragrance and are great to plant near a porch or patio. Oddly, I have never seen hummingbirds or bees on them.  Maybe some night I will stay up and see what pollinates them.

Another night bloomer, is Evening Primrose, Oenothera grandiflora, and was collected by William Bartram.   It has an usual scent that is an acquired taste.  I never really saw any pollinators on this Primrose, until I spotted what I believe to be a green bee, which I hope my reader that is a bee expert will let me know.  Anyway, the bee was really working on the flowers and when I passed by later, it was still gathering nectar.

I look forward to my morning garden tour and being greeted by a scent, new bloom or a backyard critter.


High and Out of Reach

One of my favorite plants is William Bartram’s Evening Primrose (Oenothera grandiflora).  I purchased the original seeds at Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia.  The instructions said they were difficult to germinate, so I was thrilled when I was able to grow them.

Unfortunately over the past few years, the rabbits have taken to eating them or just biting the stems in half.  This year, I was determined to grow some Primrose to replenish my seed supply. I managed to get six plants to grow in pots and elevated them in a tall planter.

It worked and the Evening Primroses bloomed.  Soon I will be able to collect seeds for next year.


Flashback Friday

During a recent trip to Philadelphia, I bought a mug of a William Bartram ‘s drawing of the Franklinia Altamalia.  It was first seen in the South by John Bartram and his son William.  Later William was able to collect some seeds and named the plant after a family friend, Benjamin Franklin.  All the Franklin Trees that exit today are from those seeds, as all the plants in the wild have disappeared.

The mug inspired today Flashback, William Bartram.

 


Autumn Yellows

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Autumn seems to bring out the yellows in the Automatic Garden.  The native Swamp Sunflower keeps its blooms for weeks.  This started out as one plant, but has reseeded and multiplied over a few years to the point that some had to be removed.

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The Esperanza or Yellow Bells (tecoma stans, Texas native) took a very hard hit during last winter’s freeze.  It struggled all summer and was finally able to put out some flowers before next winter arrives.

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Mexican or Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is a favorite of the Monarch Butterfly.  This is a yellow variety.  The Monarchs fly over the Gulf Coast on their migrations to and from Mexico.  This Tropical Milkweed should be cut back in the fall as it harbors a parasite that is fatal to the Monarchs.

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And of course, a favorite of the autumn garden is the yellow Oenothera grandiflora or Evening Primrose.  It seeded itself all over the garden naturally creating succession germination and has had a plant blooming since August.   It is a native of Alabama where William Bartram first collected it.

 


They Threw Down the Gauntlet

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Bartram’s Garden, that is.  Several years ago during a visit to the garden of colonial naturalist John Bartram,  I purchased Evening Primrose  (Oenothera grandiflora) seeds with a challenge printed on the packet.  It said that if you are able to germinate them, a free packet would be sent. (Of course, if they germinate, you wouldn’t need a new packet!)  The plant and seeds were originally collected by John’s son, William Bartram in Alabama.

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The first attempt yielded a couple of plants that grew for awhile and then rested for the summer.  In the fall they shot up long stems and bloomed.  I carefully collected some seeds to put into pots to later transplant to beds and allowed some seeds to to drop and plant themselves naturally.

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Well, by the third year I was rewarded with too many plants!  There was enough to transplant to two other beds as well as to share with fellow gardeners.  The photos don’t really show all the blooms. The Evening Primrose has done fantastically in the Automatic Garden and certainly germinates well on the Gulf Coast.


Second Anniversary

April is the second anniversary of the Automatic Garden Blog.  It is a good time to look back at some favorite plant photos.

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Confederate Rose

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Canna seed pods.

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Butterfly Weed pod opening.photo

Screaming Anole.

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William Bartram’s Evening Primrose.

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Poppy love.

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Hummingbird with a bee under its wing.

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The last rose.


Reseeding

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In the Automatic Garden the plants are allowed to reseed for the next season.  William Bartram’s Evening Primrose (Oenothera grandiflora) prolifically reseeded this year and the plants need to be thinned, transplanted and shared.  It is important not to disturb the soil once plants have dropped their seeds.

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The Swamp Sunflower has reseeded outside the wire fencing, but enough are in the bed so these can be removed.

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Rocks are a favorite germination site for seeds.  These Salvias will be returned to their bed.

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Some plants seem to be able to reseed in just the right places as these Johnny- Jump-Ups did.   Allowing plants to reseed on their own is an easy way to have a continuous supple of annuals for the garden.  A few are pictured here, but the Automatic Garden reseeds zinnias, mealy blue sage, black-eyed Susans, wishbone plants, blanket flowers, ornamental peppers, dancing lady gingers, columbine, and cleome just to name a few.