Sunday, November 5, 2017

Purple and gold

I first saw American beautyberry 30 years ago when we visited the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo. I was floored when I first saw them. I had no idea we had a native shrub with such gorgeous royal purple berries. I don't know how common they are generally, but they appear to be common in the Neuse River basin. They not only grow in my garden, they grow wild down by the creek on our farm and they are plentiful at Howell Woods, an 800 acre tract of land owned by Johnston Community College. I've even seen them beside the road on my way to the grocery store.

Every other year I whack them back to about 2 feet in height and they rebound effortlessly, growing many feet in a single year.

Some years the encore azaleas turn a rich burgundy plummy color. Last year I moved these out of the bed with the Piedmont azaleas because the deer were snacking on them in late winter and put them under the edge of the vitex tree in the front yard. This is 'Amethyst'.

These are swamp sunflowers from the NC Botanical Garden. While the flowers are stunning, in a small garden space they can be a bit of a disaster. A house nearby has them staked up tall and straight by their house and in a row in the back yard and they were beautiful, but I don't stake anything unless I absolutely have to. These pictures were taken last year and I have since moved most of them so that they form an allee beside where the lead the horses up and down to pasture.

with 'Caldwell Pink'. I love this rose despite its lack of fragrance. The pink is almost a bluish pink, the flowers are packed with petals, and the plant itself is a real workhorse, blooming repeatedly.

I kept some swamp sunflower by the front sidewalk and in the beds at the edge of the front lawn. I was afraid they wouldn't come back since the soil by the sidewalk is very loose and sandy, making it easy for the voles who love the roots, but it managed to come back anyway.

'Miss Bessie' beside the driveway

Next spring or summer I need to remember to get more Mexican bush sage because it's hardly ever winter hardy here. Years ago I grew a combination of the rose 'Duchesse de Brabant' and this sage and I still haven't managed to re-create that combination. I have 'Duchesse' but currently she's the size of a banana. What the heck? I thought tea roses were supposed to be easy to grow in the South but they hate me.

I first saw Salvia 'Phyllis Bide' at Niche Gardens in the fall standing next to one of the hoop greenhouses. I asked the owner what it was and when I saw it on the website the next spring I ordered it immediately. The effect of the flowers with the calyces is a smoky lavender that is uniquely beautiful. It's more hardy than Mexican bush sage.

When it's happy it grows quite big, about 5 feet high and 4 feet wide.

with 'Amistad', which also pleasantly surprised me by returning this spring. The original plant was 5 fleet hide and wide this year and hasn't stopped blooming since June. Both 'Phyliss Bide' and 'Amistad' are very easy to grow from cuttings.

I believe this is a willowleaf aster, but it's not 'Miss Bessie'. The plant is more airy and delicate, and the flowers are paler and start about a month earlier. I don't know where it came from. Perhaps it tagged along with a trade? It just showed up in my big perennial bed one year.

A bit of white to contrast with the purple and gold. This is Anemone 'Honorine Jobert'. It didn't bloom for several years due to black blister beetles, but when the beetles disappeared the anemones came back. They are very tough.

Crinum 'Royal White'

'Clotilde Soupert'

ETA: These pictures are from October. Swamp sunflower blooms from 2-4 weeks in October while 'Miss Bessie' starts blooming in mid to late October and blooms through most of November. It's in full bloom right now.


  1. You're surrounded by beauty, sweetbay! I love the asters and your cheerful swamp sunflowers, and that Crinum is utterly gorgeous. As to the Callicarpa, I've been looking for one here for ages. According to my western garden guide, there's one species that should work here but none of the garden centers carry it.

  2. Wow, are these flowers still flowering now? Love the sunny pictures. And....the American beautyberry I have never seen or heard of, indeed a real beauty!

    1. I should have specified, these pictures are from October!

  3. That's quite a hedgerow of Beautyberries! They are lovely. I didn't know anything about them until a few years ago, when people blogged about them. I'm just a tad north of their northern range, and didn't have need of a tall shrub. But now there are some hybrids that are a little smaller and do well to zone 5a. So I added pulled out two invasive Barberries and put two 'Pearl Glam' Beautyberries in their place. I love them! I hope they'll survive the winter--they're caged to prevent rabbit damage. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos of blooming things and the pollinators! Our gardens are going to sleep up here in the north.

  4. So many autumn beauties ! I love the textures and the colours in your garden, Sweetbay !

  5. Your garden is gorgeous, as always. Your swamp sunflowers are amazing! I have to ask, did you plant the beautyberries, or did they sprout on their own? I have discovered a few beautyberries sprinkled through the woods and am thinking of transplanting them closer together to make a larger, more impressive display. The berries are so beautiful! I planted 'Amistad' a couple of years and it was impressive. Unfortunately, it did not return for me. However, it is definitely worth planting even as an annual!

    1. I bought a couple of beautyberries and then started growing them from seed. Dozens! LOL They will pop up by themselves too. I just put the whole seeds in a plastic bag in the fridge and then set them out in pots in the spring to get started.

  6. I love that rose too. It's got such a delicate shape and colour, I think it's probably an old fashioned heirloom. I had never heard of beautyberries, it's great to use indigenous plants if we can. And I adore the daisy flowers - glad the swamp sunflowers came back.

  7. Beautyberry is one of my favorites, too. Your swamp sunflowers are gorgeous, and remind me of the Rudbeckia triloba I have. The Rudbeckia self-seeds and drives me crazy sometimes with how it spreads, but it provides some beautiful fall color. Lovely to see your garden again, Sweetbay!


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