October 2020

The identification on this plant is not entirely clear. It may be the female plant of Ruscus aculeatus also known as butchers broom.

The month was mild and beautiful. Although we had our first cold nights you can’t tell by looking at the garden. We had just enough rain to keep the plants happy but not enough to force us indoors. There were many hours dedicated to playing outside despite the dwindling daylight. I lost several weekends to family visits for salmon fishing and hunting season so I got less done than I had hoped in the garden. And as always the garden managed just fine without me.

Daylight has been decreasing but that hasn’t stopped the plants from taking advantage of the lovely conditions. A number of them decided it was a good time to have a second flowering including Alstroemeria and Perovskia. My fuchsia is making a particularly good show now that the heat of the summer has died back. Even as I write this after the first frost at the end of the month it is still blooming cheerfully.

Autumn has also brought a bounty of berries and seed heads. The Iris Foetidissima has been particularly striking with its vibrant orange seed pods. The ground has been covered in leaves despite the continuous raking and mulching. Our leaf pile is a good seven feet tall and ten feet wide. My fingers are crossed for a good wind to get the rest of the leaves off the tree so I can be done with raking for the year.

Iris Foetidissima also known as Stinking Iris is usually planted for this bright orange fruit which is usually ignored by birds and often lasts until winter.

What I’m Up To This Month:

  • Dividing more irises (seriously there is a lot)
  • Planting daffodil bulbs
  • Trimming lavender and Russian sage
  • Raking so many leaves
  • Planting tulip bulbs
  • Pruning back yellowed and dead Hosta leaves
  • Trimming overgrown and ragged looking salvia (fall trimming is not always recommended but it is crowding a path)
  • Pulling all the baby oaks helpfully planted by the squirrels

This Month’s Featured Plant

This Fuchsia Megellanica is also known as Hardy Fuchia. It had stopped blooming during the heat and drought this summer but started again in October and looks stunning.

Fuchsias are some of my favorite plants because they are so showy. Their copious flowers are dramatic in both shape and color. My garden has a medium sized Fuchsia Megellanica. Its pendent flowers are long and tapered with bright red color. The flowers are smaller than some other fuchsia varieties but no less abundant.

My fuchsia had a difficult summer with heat between 90 and 100 for several weeks and no rainfall. Even with shade and watering, it suffered and had few blooms. But fast forward to October and this plant became a star. The entire shrub is covered in flowers and isn’t showing any signs of stopping as we roll into November. It sits pretty snuggly to the house and didn’t seem to mind the two freezes we had mid-October.

Fuchsia Megellanica is known as Hardy Fuchsia and can be grown from Hardiness Zones 6-10. It prefers partial sun and fertile, moist but well drained soil. That said it can tolerate the full gamut of sun conditions as well as soil types as long as the soil is fertile. Although more hardy than other fuchsias it likes protection from winter winds and a deep mulch to protect its roots. Fuchsias attract many pollinators including bees, butterflies and moths as well as hummingbirds which are a favorite of mine.

At this point Shady Oaks Garden only has one Fuchsia Megellanica which seems a pity because of the abundant shade. I think I will be trying to take some cuttings and spread this beautiful plant throughout the garden next year.

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