The garden beds are slowly disappearing under the fall leaves. The yellow, orange and brown blanket provided by the trees will protect the perennials as the cold deepens. In the Spring, the leaves will decompose, adding their nutrients to the soil, and nourishing the plants. The tree leaves and mulches are the fertilizer for my plants.
Here is Athyrium ‘Ghost’ (ghost fern) with a red berry from Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) in the shade. Many of the the ghost fern’s fronds have died down already. I like the feathery texture and silver colour of this fern, and have added more around the garden. The remaining silver fronds look good rising up through the maple leaves, behind the lily of the valley. Two ferns have made a substantial clump about 0.6 m (2 feet) tall and 1 m (3 feet) across. Athyrium ‘Ghost’ seems to have inherited its vigour from one of its parents, Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern). Its other parent, Athyrium niponicum (Japanese painted fern) is much shorter and narrower in my garden, with fewer fronds.
Campanula poscharskyana ‘Camgood’ (blue waterfall Serbian bellflower) continues to impress me with its extended blooming period, and the sheer number of blooms. Here it is, a third of the way through October in zone 3, and this group of three plants is having a bloomfest. Despite the competition from the iris behind, and the pine above, these stars are still shining bright. I will have to cut back the iris foliage, since it does not age as gracefully in the fall, as the pretty Campanula does. Both pine needles and deciduous leaves are sprinkled between these plants in the garden.
These are the flowers of Campanula portenschlagiana ‘Hoffman’s Blue’ (Dalmatian bellflower) in October. This perennial was covered in blooms in the summer, but now there are just a few scattered flowers. The foliage of this plant is fresh and green as soon as the snow has melted in spring. With a short garden season, this is an admirable trait. The leaves continue to form a healthy carpet until the snow falls again. A ground cover with unmarked leaves and pretty purple flowers is a winning combination. I have it in a long narrow section under the roof overhang, and rarely water it, yet it never droops. In the plants that have knit together there are very few weeds.
This must be the latest I have ever had tender plants such as impatiens still blooming in the garden. The little rose-like blooms of these doubles are appreciated so late in the year, and look very pretty in the shade. We just got frost last night, so they can’t last much longer, and will soon turn to mush. I will plant new impatiens next year when all danger of frost has passed.
Here the Linum perenne (flax) and lobelia are covered with falling leaves. The blue lobelia flowers are swimming just above the cover. The lobelia should have no problem with light frosts, and I expect they will bloom for a while.
This is another section of lobelia and Dianthus caryophylus (carnations) with crisp brown maple leaves. The lobelia has formed a river of blue through this bed since the end of May. I think this annual blends well with the perennials in the garden. It enjoys our cooler summers, so the blooms never falter for five months. It is so easy care that I do nothing to it after planting, except give it a spray when I have the hose out.
With the exception of the yellowing ferns and fallen leaves, this little shade bed looks much like summer. The Brunnera macrophylla (Siberian bugloss) and Pulmonaria (lungwort) have no trouble lifting above the rising pile of maple leaves, but the little Asarum europaeum (ginger) groundcover are barely level with the top.
Above is a closeup of three Pulmonaria ‘Samourai’ (Samourai lungwort) in a sea of fallen maple leaves. Their silver swords cut their own path above the tree debris.
Here is another post on protecting your perennials in winter by using a mulch of fall leaves.
As the tree leaves settle in the garden beds, the perennials one by one get ready for winter in my Northern garden. Soon the frosts will send them the signal to dismantle the above ground structures, and the insulating layer will keep the crown and roots safe until next spring. How is your garden getting ready for winter?