Fall for the colours of a seasonal palette



Popular garden guru Mark Cullen recommends asters, brown-eyed Susans and Joe-Pye Weed for late season colour.

I have them all and heartily endorse the selection. I also have one of my own to add to the list.

Anemone Robusta. A group of ladies used to hold a fundraiser every Spring at a church near our home, the money being used to run programs for young children. I used to dig up and pot plants from my garden for them to sell. One year, I had a particularly large number and the ladies insisted I take something from their collection in return. I tried telling them that the idea was to help with the fundraiser, not walk away with freebies, but they were insistent.

“It’s our way of thanking you,” said one with a sweet smile as she handed me a small pot.

She didn’t know the name, but assured me I would love it. “It grows big and has the prettiest flowers,” she said.

I needed no further persuasion and brought the plant home. The lady was right. It did grow and it had beautiful pink orchid-like blooms that danced above the large leaves.

For years, I looked for it in garden centres, hoping to identify it. Then another gardening friend told me that some old plants go out of fashion and survive only in our gardens, one doesn’t see them being sold.

 I labelled it “Orchid-like flower from church sale” in my garden journal and left it at that.

Until one year, while at Stratford to catch a play, I noticed large clumps of the same plant. The folks there have helpfully labelled the plantings and I learnt its name. Anemone Robusta.

A fitting name, as it is very robust, growing bigger and taller with each passing year. Now the blooms that dance in the air are on branches that are taller than I am. I have dug up and moved its many seedlings to other spots in my garden and gifted them to friends.

“It blooms from summer to fall!” I tell anyone who admires it, hoping to persuade them to take a seedling. Or two. “Don’t the blooms remind you of orchids?” I ask another, hoping to elicit a demand for a seedling. Or two.

And so our gardens grow.

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