The first round of pansies arrived last week and we were able to get a little jump on some of the beds. So far the weather is cooperating and has been delightfully pleasant for planting. Every year I worry about the inevitable bursts of hot or cold at this time of year, but so far we're having wonderful warm days and cool nights...perfect for planting!
This photo also shows a container anchored by "Angelina" sedum (which has awesome winter color) and a Juniper called "Iowa" that I'm really liking this year. Those two items will stay until spring, and we'll move annuals in and out of the containers to work with the season - once these crysanthemums fade, we'll replace them with pansies, then another switch for Christmas holidays, and then finally back to pansies and snapdragons for spring.
The "Limelight" paniculata hydrangeas are showing their Autumn colors, which we'll leave until around Thanksgiving, and then cut them back. I like the juxtaposition of the aging hydrangea blooms with the fresh and perky new pansies.
The hydrangeas were installed a couple of years ago, and I'm still delighted with them! They replaced a rather "stand offish" clipped holly hedge, and I think the hydrangeas add a suitable romantic feel that suits the home and "the Missus". If there is a negative, it's that they are completely naked in winter, which is why we have an evergreen holly hedge behind them under the windows. When we set up for Christmas (typically the weekend after Thanksgiving), we'll give the hydrangeas a good whack to neaten them up for the winter. For reference, these were cut to 30 inches last year, and are now more than 8 feet tall. This time we're going to cut them to 30 inches at Thanksgiving,and then back to 18 inches in spring before the new growth starts (the beauty of paniculatas is that they take full sun and bloom on new growth).
Over just a little along the front of the house, we also plugged Pyracantha "America" into the holly hedge, and I'm thrilled with the way it's now breaking up all of that dark green. As long as we hand prune a couple of times a season, we are able maintain it at about 5 feet, and it's still covered with those great berries for a long showy period in autumn and winter.