September, the transition month between summer and fall, is the month for lots of celebration from Labor day to football victories, and back to school rallies. Also, I suggest it is a great month to travel the region in search of beautiful gardens. These gardens have reached the zenith of growth and beauty. One that comes to mind is the Birmingham Botanical Garden which is only 1 1/2 -2 hours from Montgomery. Birmingham and the State should salute this elegant, well-maintained garden with many venues, plus a wonderful gift shop which includes plants. Also, if your quest includes purchasing herbs, heirloom roses, and other annuals and perennials, drop by Petals from the Past, a nursery, off I-65 for a real treat. Many Saturdays they host lecturer on topics such as how to grow and maintain fruit trees. Just go to their web site for more information.
Let's look at some of the garden chores facing us in the garden in the month of September. Vinca will start to decline as the night time temperatures get cooler and needs to be replaced. Many of us had planted Vinca back in late May and June, so this is about the bloom life of this annual. (Some of the older varieties will reseed.) We can fill in any holes in the beds when the Vinca or other annuals die back with pansies, dianthus, dusty miller, lamb's ears, or herbs such as parsley, oregano, fennel, chives and others. If you are not ready to plant the winter annuals, impatiens and begonias can be planted and will last through a hard freeze. These could be transition plants to keep the garden going until you want to add winter annuals which may not be readily available now. We can also plant some perennials and biennials such as holy hock, fox glove, and delphinium for beautiful spring show stoppers. These plants are not fillers, but the divas which set a dazzling stage in April and May. Other perennials such as all types of salvias, Shasta daisy, scabiosa,, monarda, Asian lilies, pentas, lilies of the Nile, and phlox, would be a great addition to the beds. I mentioned Fennel for the garden because the common fennel is a prolific, valuable addition to the garden in providing nectar and pollen to beneficial insects. The good insects this herb sustains include hover flies, lacewings, ladybird beetles, paper wasps and soldier bugs. It also is an important source of food for the butterfly larvae.
PLANT OF THE MONTH--ALLIUM or ORNAMENTAL ALLIUM ( Liliaceae)
There are about 500 species of Allium which are native to the Northern Hemisphere and are grown from bulbs. They require full sun or partial shade, need regular water, and some are more cold hardy than others. In our area, we can grow almost all without having to dig the bulbs. They are kin to the edible onion, have arresting bloom heads which make great cut flowers. Some varieties have very fragrant blooms. The onion scent is not evident unless the stem is pierced or bruised, plus blooms of the different varieties can also be dried. Some grow 5-6 feet tall, and some so short they make a great border.
Chives come from this family of plants. The range of colors are from white, yellow, purple, blue, pink and shades in between. A. christophii, called The Star of Persia is very distinctive with bloom heads 6-12 inches across. Most flower catalogs would carry these. Try a Google search for the most choices.