This post is about the garden in September. I share the varieties of plants that I have had good luck growing this past season.
My garden is located in zone 5B and let me tell you, the winters get ridiculously cold and the growing season can be short. In fact, in about 6 weeks, we will likely have our first frost. This is the time of year when the garden is putting out its finest flowers and brightest colors. It’s almost as if the plants know what is looming around the corner and are having their final party of the season.
First, let me start at the beginning. I grew up in the California central valley where summer days routinely reach triple digits. When October arrived, everyone was relieved that it was “only” 85 degrees. I lived in an area where there was a lot of pavement, asphalt and stucco but not much in the way of gardens. We lived in a townhouse with no room for a proper garden. So, it has always been an aspiration of mine to have a garden. Further, living in a hot and dry climate, with almost no backyard limited any gardening prospects.
I used to pore over the pages of Martha Stewart’s books and magazines and dreamed of having a garden like hers. I was absolutely stupefied by the size of peonies from her garden and I could almost smell the lilacs through the pages. I wondered how was it possible to even grow these types of flowers. You can see a tour of her gardens on this website.
Throughout the past 20 years, I have had a lot of trial and error with growing plants and I want to share with you what has worked well this past season. By “worked well”, I mean those plants that bloomed the best.
The Garden in September
During the month of September, the garden is giving its last full effort at putting forth blooms and developing seeds. Here in New York, September always seems to be when the garden is at its peak. The blooms are at their brightest, plants are putting forth new growth, and annuals planted from seed are in their full glory.
My Philosophy on Seeds
Let me preface this section of my post on seeds by saying – I do not have a seed starting station. I do not have a potting bench or growing lights. I don’t have the space indoors, the time or the patience to coddle seedlings inside. My personal philosophy is that if I can’t plant the seeds directly in the ground outside, then that particularly plant or variety just isn’t a good fit for my garden. Below are flowers I have had the best luck growing from seeds that were directly sown into the ground.
Hands down, these were my favorite flowers to grow from seed this past year. I literally went to the local store and bought a couple of packets of seeds. Then I direct sowed the seeds into the ground towards the end of May. While they were a little slow to start, once they became established they really carried the day. All throughout the month of August I had a fresh bouquet of Zinnias in bright cheerful colors.
Here are a few tips, when the plants are young and not yet established, try to protect them from squirrels, chipmunks and birds . I covered mine with a metal basket turned upside down. Also, be diligent with your weeding.
Sunflowers are so much fun to grow from seed because they seem to grow so quickly and they make a big statement. I grew a multi-branching variety that seemed to reach 7-8 feet tall. This was another plant that provided a steady supply of flowers for the house. If you look below the sunflowers, you can see some of the zinnias blooming.
I love to collect the sunflower heads so I can use the seeds for next year. I clip them off and let them air dry in a basket.
Cosmos are another type of flowers that I directly sowed into the ground. They seemed to be a little slower in growing and blooming compared to the Zinnias – however – they recently have come into their own with generous sized flowers.
They have also provided a steady supply of flowers for our dining room table. I try to collect the seeds from spent flowers so I can plant them next year.
Final thoughts on Seeds
The best part about growing the Zinnias, Sunflowers and Cosmos from seeds is that I spent less than $10 on all of these flowers. So, if you want to grow flowers from seeds and just plant them directly into the ground, I would highly recommend these three types of flowers.
Tubers and Perennials
Buying and planting dahlias is a luxury. Any money that I saved by growing flowers from seeds was definitely spent on buying dahlia tubers. In March, I went to a gardening show where I purchased a number of different varieties of dahlia tubers. I was also very fortunate because my Mother-in-law gave me some beautiful dahlia tubers.
Dahlias are some of my favorite flowers and I love how they continue to bloom well into the fall. There are so many varieties and beautiful colors. Erin Benzakien has grown multiple varieties of dahlias on her farm -Floret.
Having shared my love of dahlias, they are also the most difficult flowers to carry over into the next year. Our winters are so cold and harsh that the tubers have to be dug up, wrapped in newspaper and carefully stored in a temperature controlled space. Every time I try to dig up the tubers, carefully wrapping them in newspaper and storing them in my basement the following spring the tubers have disintegrated. They are either shriveled up into small hard wrinkled masses or have decomposed into a dust of green powdery mold. I have not yet figured out how to save my dahlia tubers.
So, every year, I treat dahlias as an annual.
My dad shared a great tip with me for growing dahlias. Use tomato cages to help support your dahlia flowers when they bloom. The cages prevent the blooms from falling over and down onto the ground.
Hydrangeas are another variety of flowers that did well in the garden. I purchased two small “Little Lime Light” bushes last fall and planted them in the garden. Both plants survived the harsh winter and produced blooms this past summer. Having said that, these bushes are still small and the plants are still getting established so I won’t have any significant amount of blooms for another year or two.
Late in September, I love to harvest hydrangeas and hang them upside down to dry. This technique provides me with flowers during the long, dark, cold winter days. Last fall, I wrote a post on how to dry hydrangeas.
Summary For The Garden in September
Below are some images I created for you that can be pinned to your Pinterest boards. If you want to bookmark this post for future reference, simply click on one of the images below.
The pumpkins were not grown in my garden and were found at a local farm stand.
You can see the Zinnias, Sunflowers, Cosmos, and Dahlias in the arrangement above.
Thank you for stopping by the blog today. If you have a garden, what plants did you have the greatest success with? What are your favorite plants to grow?
Also, if you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read the following.
5 Plants for your Head Shaped Planter
5 Easy Ways to Bring Fall into your Home
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Lovely photos, Anna!! I SO wish I had a garden…I have a very big dream someday to have a huge herb and cutting garden. I imagine that your garden is a very pretty place to visit each day!
Hi Rachel – For many many many years – I too dreamed of having a garden. At the very least – I used to grow herbs in pots on my balcony or patios. One day, I promise, you will have a garden!
I’m so glad you shared the reason you don’t have a seed starting station or grow them in a greenhouse first, Anna. I would love to have a cutting garden but I haven’t started one yet for the same reasons! Several of our friends have huge gardens and they are just stunning but I don’t have near the time to devote to having one that they do. I’m super excited to know there are plants that can give us the same cutting garden experience without the extra hassle of a greenhouse though and I can’t wait to try some of the plants you’ve suggested. Hugs, CoCo
Oh Fabulous!! I am so glad this post was helpful. Zinnias and Cosmos are exceptionally easy to grow – I think they would do particularly well in your climate. The other benefit – is that at $2 for a package of seeds – you don’t have much to lose!