Find fall floral color in out-of-the-way places, then bring it into your garden next year
Our gardens and borders may be blooming with asters and late goldenrods and sedums but we tend to forget about the wildflowers that are still showing off their colors. And they can make beautiful garden plants!
Finding cultivated versions to integrate into your property can bring that late fall wildflower color in to your gardens. One wildflower to try is chelone, also known by a nickname that describes its appearance, the "turtlehead plant."
Chelone grows three to four feet tall and thrives in wet areas along streams and near ponds. They come with white or pink-colored flowers and they also do well in full sun or a bit of shade.
If you have a wet area on your property and you want to naturalize some beautiful perennial plants, try chelone.
If, instead, you want to move it into the garden, look for the cultivated version called Hot Lips. That chelone is smaller, has pink blooms and is more adapted to regular garden soil.
Another fall bloom that thrives in wetter conditions is scarlet lobelia. This perennial has brilliant scarlet-colored flowers and grows a couple feet tall.
Scarlet lobelia self-sow. In doing so, the plants move around to find the best spot to grow. This one is also more shade-tolerant than chelone.
The lobelia's cultivated version is called, Starship. This would grow better in a garden setting.
Another wildflower to grow on your property in both its wilder and more cultivated form is boltonia. This is also known as the false aster and it does look like and grow like an aster.
The difference is in its size, its hardiness and how it is spread. The false aster or boltonia grows bigger than asters and has less disease than asters. And boltonia spreads via rhizomes rather than being clump-forming.
You could plant a whole bank along a wall of boltonia which would bloom white, pink or purple this time of year.
Q: I've got some Arbor vitae and other cedar trees. They're getting too big at the base and taking up too much space. As they grow, the growth of the trunk dies and the green growth is mostly near the distal ends of the branches. So if I trim the branches, I end up seeing leafless branches with dead flowers and needles or dead leaves and needles. What's the best way to trim cedars while keeping green growth on the outside? - Monica, in Burlington
A: Trimming cedar or Arbor vitae can be challenging. The challenge comes as you trim the hedge and are only clipping the outside of it.
Meanwhile, all the growth on the inside of the hedge doesn't get sunlight and that can all die back.
Unfortunately, with cedars, if you cut into the dead growth, it's not going to regrow like some plants like a rhododendron.
Something to try is to be a bit more diligent next year and trim more frequently, so you can kind of push it back a little bit.
Instead of just trimming once a year in the spring, aim for trimming every three to four weeks throughout the summer.
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