A Gardening Journal

The Best Season Ever: Seven-Son Tree in "Afterbloom"

The countless white flowers of seven-son tree are showy in themselves, and are even more welcome because they lead to countless deep pink doodads that last into October. Truth to tell, these are even showier than the flowers—and a heckuva lot more obscure.

Heptacodium miconioides mature calyces 092317 320 

After all, blooms are about petals, pistils, and pollen. We all know more or less what they are. The pink doodads? Much quirkier.

Read more: The Best Season Ever: Seven-Son Tree in "Afterbloom"

Cypress Vine's September Seedlings

Cypress vine germinates readily, grows quickly, begins flowering when still a toddler, and doesn't stop until cut down by frost. Over the growing season, then, many hundreds of its flowers come and go. And because they are popular with hummingbirds as well as butterflies, it's no surprise that at least some of those flowers might mature to seeds. And that some of those seeds might fall to the ground & germinate.

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Cypress vine plants aren't hardy even in subtopical Miami, but its seeds are reportedly hardy into climates as severe as those of coastal Maine. How rampant must this vine be where both plants and seeds are fully hardy!

Read more: Cypress Vine's September Seedlings

Waking Up the Frangipani

Frangipani in bloom is one of the iconic thrills of the tropics. In almost every color but blue, flowers emerge in large clusters month after month after month. No wonder the temptation is strong to grow frangipani in a container, enjoying it anywhere it can receive sufficient warmth and sun.

Plumeria cuttings making progress in rooting 091017 320

But first it must come into leaf. And to come into leaf, the tree must be rooted-in and thriving. Frangipani are typically propagated from cuttings that, conveniently, can be shipped anywhere as leafless, rootless, dormant sections of stem. The suspense is in waking up such a cutting, so that it takes root, begins forming foliage, and—eventually— favors you with glorious flowers. I'm discovering just how much patience that wake-up can require.

Read more: Waking Up the Frangipani

Seven-Son Tree in Bloom

September is a miracle month for any woody plant just entering into bloom. Not still flowering since July and August (take that, Rose of Sharon), nor drying-gracefully-in-place since June (take that, hydrangeas). I mean fresh-as-a-daisy flowering, with just-now-getting-up-on-the-horse-for-that-first-trot-around-the-track-in-September blooms. Like, say, this singular species of ornamental tree from Asia, the seven-son tree.

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The flowers are sparkly white, fragrant, and in large clusters that seem to tip every stem. And, in New England at least, they are at their peak in September. Astoundingly, this floral show is merely the prelude to another display in October that's even more intriguing. Now that I think of it, seven-son flower puts on a memorable display each season. Year-round, this is one essential tree.

Read more: Seven-Son Tree in Bloom

The Best Season Ever: Copper Spoons & Friends

Although all hundred-plus species of kalanchoe are hardy only in dry subtropics and tropics, some of them are so eccentric, easy, and ornamental that they are essential container specimens everywhere. My kalanchoe collection is still modest but, even so, each member is is so distinct that you can enjoy its best view only by orienting yourself very specifically.

Kalanchoe orgyalis Kalanchoe luciae side 090217 320

On the left is paddle plant, whose nesting pairs of large leaves are particularly stunning when seen from the side. At the right is copper spoons, which is merely grey and tan from this vantage. But from above? Thrilling!

Read more: The Best Season Ever: Copper Spoons & Friends

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