September blooms

(Question)

Kindly tell me what flowers and flowering shrubs still bloom in early September in Toronto? This is research for a novel. Many thanks for your helpfulness.

(Answer)

Early September in Toronto is still summer, so many of the flowers, shrubs and vines are still in bloom. These blooms are still being visited by bees and butterflies preparing for winter, and the seedheads are scavenged by migrating birds that nest in the far north. It is a busy time in the meadows along the valleys and gardens.

In the gardens, most of the shrubs have finished blooming, but there are still a few that continue to bloom. A hardy, short shrub, potentilla, or cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) are normally covered with bright yellow, five-petaled flowers, but cultivars also come in orange, pink, scarlet and white. These will bloom to frost. The rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a tall, vase-shaped shrub with single or double blooms from mid-summer to late September. They come in pink, white with a red centre, mauve and purple.

Many vines are still blooming, or about to bloom at this time. Many of the later flowering clematis (Clematis cvs.) are still putting out their red, mauve, pink, double or single blooms on twining stems. My all-time favourites are golden clematis (C. tangutica), which has bell- shaped yellow flowers from August to October that turn into fluffy seedheads, and sweet autumn clematis  (C. terniflora) that is covered in small, white blossoms throughout September that send out a heady, sweet scent when the wind blows.

The deep yellow of  black-eyed and brown-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta and R. triloba) dominate the late summer garden, and are joined by the native purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). The natural colour of the coneflower is a deep pinkish purple daisy shape, yet the cultivars come in white, scarlet, orange and yellows. Many of the true geraniums, or cranesbills, bloom well into fall. Rozanne is a cultivar with a blue-mauve flower that will continue to frost.

In many gardens and the verges of valleys and highways, the native asters create a haze of mauve and white.  Heath aster (Aster ericoides) and smooth aster (A. laevis) bloom white, while Calico aster (A. lateriflorus) blooms mauve. Favoured asters in the garden include the deep purple New England Aster ‘Purple Dome’ (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’) and the ubiquitous New York or Michaelmas Daisy (S. novi-belgii), also purple.

The asters bloom around the same time as the stately goldenrods and their brilliant yellow plumes. The two most common in the Toronto area are Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) and tall goldenrod (S. c. var. scabra). These plants are most at home in open areas, but are sometimes found in gardens.

Do not discount the grasses as bloomers in early September. They are at their peak at this time. In many gardens, the grasses add structure and beauty alongside their flowering partners. The fountain grasses (Pennisetum alopecuroides) and the Maiden grasses (Miscanthus sinensis) range in size, but all add their feathery plumes in reds, greens and golds. The northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) dangle their overlapping flowers through the winter, bouncing in the slightest breeze.

There are many other flowers at this time of the year. The annuals we plant in pots, urns, planters and flower beds are still blooming: petunias, million bells, impatiens, begonias, browallia, and tickseeds are still putting blossoms forth for the enjoyment of all.

Good luck with your novel: proper atmosphere can only enhance the story.