Here we are at last, the final chapter in my series about my Parking Strips first year, taking us form Autumn into Spring again.
In spite of a prolonged dry season last year, I'm happy to say the parking strip held up amazingly well.
I don't know if my love of Autumn causes me to subconsciously plan my garden to peak at that time...or if my love of the season simply blinds me to its shortcomings ;-)
While Aster 'Prince' has wonderful, dark foliage through spring and summer, in autumn, it is bedecked by millions of tiny blooms as well.
Of course, Autumn is the season where grasses all get to strut their stuff...like the above Schizachyrium 'Blue Heaven'.
Almost overnight, the barely-noticeable flowers of the Schizachyrium transform from this....
Autumn in Portland, as in most places, is divine!
The light during autumn is so wonderfully mellow, especially at sunrise and sunset.
Grasses truly are in their full glory when backlit.
The arching blades of Panicum 'Huron Solstice' seem to lick at the air like flames.
It's times like these that I just want to stop time and revel in the perfection of it all.
Never, ever, underestimate the power of light...these moments may be fleeting, but they are undeniably powerful, especially in the cooling days of autumn.
By Labor Day last year, the parking strips were so full, it was hard to believe that they had just been planted that spring.
While some plants in the garden tend to become a bit sprawly, you can always depend on ornamental grasses, like Muhlenbergia rigens above, to lend grace and structure.
October finds Aster 'Prince' a veritable cloud of tiny white, red-eyed blooms. The individual blooms are tiny, but they are borne in such profusion that they smother the plant.
In my youth, I was an avid dead-header, but with most plants, like the Echinacea above, I prefer to leave the seed heads...as long as they are striking...and, luckily, most are.
The parking strips in October look much like they did in August...just a little more muted, a little blowsier, exactly as I like it ;-)
In this last image of autumn (my camera died soon after this pic), I'm struck, looking across the street at the golden lawns and parking strips of my neighbors...quite a contrast to this lush, plant-filled space, huh?
Even in January, the grasses continue to look good, adding valuable structure and movement.
While their southwestern cousins don't have much winter interest, the blue-flowered Agastaches have great winter structure, as seen here, with Agastache 'Golden Jubilee' and Muhlenbergia rigens.
While the low winter light is very fetching pouring through grass seedheads, frost is even better. While it's a bit of a rarity here in Portland (especially with our past few non-winters), we were lucky enough to get a few days of glorious frosts, which utterly transforms the garden.
And here we are today, with everything cut back and growing like gangbusters. I've already made a few alterations to the layout this spring, and am excited to see how it performs this year.
I hope you've enjoyed this little series on the progress of my front parking strip. I have to say, it was challenging, but by no means would I say more difficult than any other part of my garden. In fact, compared to gardening on my front slope, it's a dream (oh for a large parcel of FLAT land)! I hope everyone out there is having a great spring, so far!