Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Summer's Last Florrah

In the backyard, the exuberant yellows and brilliant whites of August are mellowing into a more subtle color scheme. The stonecrop, which I'd like to induct into the nativy non-native club, is deepening towards burgundy.

The sunchoke, aka Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosa) is showing up late for the party and wondering why so many others

are sporting sober earthtones.

September's late boneset (Eupatorium serotinum) is gracefully extending the white of August's boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), though to a much reduced audience of insects.

Goldenrods and New England aster are brightly colored, but

their cheer is muted by the deepening browns of Joe Pye Weed.

Today was as good a time as any to take a measure of this magnificent summer's growth. Cutleaf coneflowers rose to 6.5 feet. The JoePyeWeed topped out at 8.5 feet. The cup-plant in this photo rose ambitiously to 9.5 feet before growing top-heavy and splaying out.

Sunchoke was the undisputed champ, rising to 10.5 feet, even though it was growing in pots.

The big pots, which contain the sunchoke roots' imperialistic tendencies, can be tipped over in the winter to harvest the edible tubers packed inside them. (Idea: Try cutting the tops when they die back, turning over the pot, then lifting the pot occasionally to take a few tubers.) I eat them raw, but a friend heaped praise upon sunchoke soup.

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