Time to stop blooming? Roses and other plants didn't get the memo

Roses, herbs, and a few other plants are still blooming. It's great that they don't know they were supposed to stop earlier.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Hunt.
The miniature rose Chelsea Belle is a late season show-off.

It’s a strange time of year in my garden. The leaves have taken their time finishing their fall show, so we’re still shredding and stuffing them into trash bags every day to use later as mulch.

At the same time, the mail carrier is stuffing my box with all manner of gardening catalogs, tempting me with lovely things for next year before I have even cleaned up the mess from this one.

Many of my perennials are looking tired and sad, but some plants haven’t received the memo that summer is over. The hydrangea flower heads are still an attractive purplish-green, my lavenders continue to throw out the occasional fragrant spike, and the roses don’t appear to be anywhere near shutting down for a long winter’s nap.

Of course, as a rose fanatic I am quick to point out to anyone who will listen that the Queen of Flowers gives more bang for the buck than any other plant. I brag that I have blooms from April 24 till Christmas, and I do, although it may be just a solitary rose that appears at either end of the spectrum.

But this year I have never seen more late flowers on more plants.

The polyantha rose Zeniatta is 5 feet tall and covered with sprays. (See Photo No. 2 above.) The miniature Chelsea Belle (first photo above) is literally bursting with buds and blossoms. And The Dark Lady, a favorite but stingy English rose (Photo No. 3), is brightening the front of the garden with a dozen crimson blooms just in time for the holidays.

The herbs haven’t received the end-of-season memo either. Yesterday, while snipping a sprig of mint, I spied 15 little dill plants that had apparently sprung up in the past week. I seldom get a sniff of fresh dill after August.

Today, in anticipation of Thursday’s festivities, I bought a beautiful red poinsettia at the grocery store and placed it on the hearth.  I also brought in a beautiful red bouquet of The Dark Lady. I can’t recall mixing poinsettias with my posies before.

It’s a strange time of year in my garden.

PSSST: Don’t be tempted to prune roses back too severely this time of year. Prune only bushes with canes long enough to whip around or rub against others when winter winds blow. There will be plenty of time to prune when the forsythia blooms next spring and you won’t suffer as much dieback.

Lynn Hunt, the Rose Whisperer, is an accredited horticultural judge and a Consulting Rosarian Emeritus for the American Rose Society. She has won dozens of awards for her writing in newspapers, magazines, and television. She grows roses and other plants in her garden on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Editor’s note: To read more posts by Lynn, see our blog archive. The Monitor’s main gardening page offers articles on many gardening topics. See also our RSS feed. You may want to visit Gardening With the Monitor on Flickr. Take part in the discussions and get answers to your gardening questions. If you join the group (it’s free), you can upload your garden photos and enter our next contest.

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