My annual POPPIES seed pods are ripe so I gather some but others I break open and scatter where I want them next summer. I think the seeds do better if they freeze a few times. The ORIENTAL POPPIES dormant earlier but there are now small plants up to bloom next spring. Their dried seed pods look good in dried bouquets.

          Dormant POPPY roots rot easily in wet soil so if you get new ones be sure to use lots of compost in your planting area.  An efficient way to plant is to dig a fairly deep hole, make a hump of soil in the center, and spread the new roots over the hole with the crown even with the top of the soil. ORIENTAL POPPIES do not like to be moved around so if you want more plants go along side your big one and cut off a chunk without disturbing the main root.

          If you bought hybrid CONE FLOWERS this spring and let them go to seed then next spring will be a surprise! Mine produced hundreds of seedlings over a large area.  B.J. thinned them out and I had the most diverse plants of various colors, variation in height, some double, some single, large dark cones and they bloomed all summer. I am going to let them seed again this fall to see what happens.

          A plant I do not see very often is the TOAD LILY (Tricytes hybrids). They prefer shade and are among the last to bloom. It is hard to describe the blooms. Some say it is star shaped and others funnel shaped. They come in various colors. Mine purple with stripes and spots. I have seen yellow ones. They also like mulch during winter, rather slow to start in the spring, and grow to about 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall when mature. An early frost will probably keep them from blooming.

          DAHLIA’S are at their best right now.  They like lots of water for those big tubers so our rains have encouraged them. Shortly after the frost hits them they will need to be dug carefully so that you do not break off the eyes of the tubers attached to the stem.  Some authors recommend storing them upside down but I have never tried. They must not freeze but do like it cool.

          A late blooming shrub, the BLUE CARYOPTERIS (Caryopteris) is now in bloom in full sun. It is a light blue about 5 feet tall and wide. I have heard it called the “BLUE SPIREA”. They bloom on new wood. It is listed in some places as a Zone 6 or higher but mine does fine here in Zone 5. Some leaves may feel furry on the underside.  They come from the dry, hot slopes of Asia. There are some darker blues. Mine is called “Blue Mist”.

          NEW ENGLAND ASTERS are now in bloom. I have blue and red that can get 6 feet tall unless you cut them back to about half by July 4th. A light frost does not bother them.  BUTTERFLIES are quite numerous and like ASTERS! I have seen PAINTED LADIES, SULPHERS, and WHITES.

          HUMMING BIRDS have been here for a week or so now.  I see them on SALVIA and LANTANA that I plant especially for them. A BLACK and BLUE SALVIA with a tiny RUBY THROAT HUMMINGBIRD drinking from blooms can not be beat! STAR FLOWER (Penta lancealota) is another favorite of BUTTERFLIES. It stands lots of heat and does well in a pot arrangement 15-18 inches tall and wide. They also dead head themselves.

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