Rain is forecast but the day started cool and sunny; just the right weather to show off the shades of autumn. A few plants are doing their thing and, despite the fact that American readers will be surprised that I am so excited about one of their weeds, I am delighted to see the ‘berries’ on phytolacca. My plant has struggled to get going and the new shoots get frosted every spring as they emerge. If they didn’t I am sure the plant would far exceed the 1m it struggles to achieve. More of a curb to its development is the helianthus ‘Monarch’ that is encroaching on its space. But, for now, I will admire the inky berries as the leaves dissolve on the stems.
The last flowers are being produced on the ladybird poppy (Papaver commutatum). These were sown in some awful compost (I didn’t know it was awful at the time) and are shorter than they should be but they have struggled on. This is a popular annual because of the vibrant, strikingly marked flowers. Native to north-eastern Turkey eastwards it is sometimes called the Caucasian poppy as well as the ladybird poppy. Sometimes it is given the cultivar name ‘Ladybird’ but it is the same thing. It is a hardy annual and should self seed. I will scrape off the compost and spread it and hope it will come up somewhere else. Apparently ‘commutatum’ means it has had its name changed – which would seem to apply to most plants these days! There are only a few flowers left but they look especially nice against the dead, older stems. There seems to be a thought that the seeds need stratification to germinate but that is not true.
The kochia (burning bushes) are starting to change colour as the days shorten. The bright, lime green that has been so cheery all summer is being replaced by pinkish crimson. It matches the pink of the neighbouring nicotiana well.
My eupatorium ‘Baby Joe’ only produced a single stem this year but it branched well and is a broad dome of fluffy pink. For weeks now it has been alive with insects, especially honey bees and butterflies. These attract the attention of wasps which flit around trying to grab insects to take off to the nest for their grubs.