Friday, October 31, 2014

Autumn in the Lowcountry

Here in the Lowcountry, autumn is a time of beauty in our gardens, even if we don't have much brilliant leaf color. Camellia susanquas are in bloom along with lantana, Confederate roses, Turk's cap mallows, chrysanthemums, sweet Williams, pansies, and marigolds. I have narrowed down to nine the plethora of photographs I want to show you. 

Every picture contains a story. 

Confederate rose

Confederate Rose

I first noticed the Confederate rose at a plant sale perhaps three or four years ago and bought one not knowing what to expect. Wow! Here, it flowers in autumn. The blossoms start out white and pinken before turning red. Now I notice Hibiscus mutabilis when I'm out and about. In one yard in my neighborhood, closer to the deep water of the Wando, a line of Confederate roses grow near the street. Two weeks ago, during the Charleston Horticultural Society's Garden Tour, I spotted a gorgeous specimen in a Seabrook Island cul de sac island.

"Peace" rose

"Peace" Rose

As a teenager, my now-grown daughter loved roses and asked to plant some. This "Peace" rose is around twenty-years-old and the only one to survive of the three or four varieties I bought for her. Ten or more years ago, I relocated the rose hoping it would be happier in a spot without full sun. Eventually nearby trees grew and blocked the sun for most of the day. Last year I finally wised up and put down mulch. Voila!  This month: Four or five rose buds at one time on this hybrid tea. That's a first. If you look closely at the photograph, you will see that something has been nibbling on the leaves. 

Shepherd's needle
Bidens alba or shepherd's needle

Shepherd's Needle

The soil around a magnolia I purchased from a local nursery in 2012 contained a seed from which sprouted a bonus plant. The plant had daisy-like flowers. It grew tall. I transplanted it to another spot in the garden and took cuttings and planted them directly into the ground. I also scattered the seeds. Late last summer I began to suspect the plant must be invasive. During my trip to Taiwan, I saw this same plant growing weed-like along mountaintop roadsides. Upon returning home, I uprooted the plants still growing in my yard. A few sprouted this year. I pulled up most but allowed two or three to grow. Earlier this month, while serving as a garden tour docent, I discovered this plant growing en mass along a small portion of the homeowner's driveway. I asked him what it was. "Shepard's needle," he said before confirming that it can be invasive. But the way he incorporated it into his landscape? Amazingly beautiful! The pollinators feasted.

American Beautyberry
American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

American Beautyberry

How could I not have noticed the American beautyberry until recent years? Visiting my oldest sister in North Carolina, I discovered one growing behind her house beside an old cemetery where several of our ancestors are buried. In 2011 (I think), I bought one at the Native Plant Society sale and another at Plantasia and planted both beneath the huge live oak in my front yard. Both have thrived.  

Oakleaf hydrangea
Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
Oakleaf hydrangea
Oakleaf hydrangea

Oakleaf Hydrangeas

These oakleaf hydrangeas are ones I transplanted from the backyard. Both came from the same parent plant. The top one I planted last year. The one with the interesting leaf color, I moved this year. 

Turk's cap mallow
Cloudless sulphur butterfly on Turk's cap mallow (Malvaviscus)

Turk's Cap Mallow

During lunch I used to walk past a house on the Charleston peninsula where each autumn Turk's cap mallows bloomed in the tiny front yard. I coveted these bright blossoms. Lucky for me, a plant I selected at a swap last year turned out to be a Turk's cap. 

Alhambra Hall on the Harbor

All of the photographs above I took in my own garden. The two below depict an October morning at Mount Pleasant's Alhambra Hall.

Monarch butterfly on lantana
Monarch butterfly feeding on lantana

Grounds of Alhambra Hall in Mount Pleasant
Marsh grass, sweet grass, and lantana