Tag Archives: late bloomers

Late Bloomers

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Aster ‘Monch’

I just had an OMG moment.  I had planned to write about asters in my garden, but I got interested in the “late bloomers” phrase and googled it.  The first article that popped up had just what I wanted – a description of some of our more colorful late bloomers.  People – not plants.

The OMG moment hit when I began reading through the posted list.  The average age was probably 58!  Is there a category for Incredibly Late Bloomers? or I-Can’t-Believe-They’re Still-Alive Late Bloomers?

Julia Child was a bit of a late bloomer, at least in regards to her cooking prowess.  She was 49 when her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was published, and she was over 80 when her last cookbook came out.  Our daughter was delighted to get to sit beside her when “Julia’s Kitchen,” opened in Napa in 2002.  Julia was about 90 at the time (and we hear she slept through much of the ceremony).

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Julia Child with her husband Paul

The marriage of Paul and Julia Child was described in a great article in Town and Country.  When Paul was 59, he retired from his career in the Foreign Service – just as Julia’s cooking career was taking off.  In one of her cookbooks, Julia described Paul as “the man who is always there: porter, dishwasher, official photographer, mushroom dicer and onion chopper, editor, fish illustrator, manager, taster, idea man, resident poet, and husband.”

Paul, too, it appears, was a late bloomer in many ways.

Of course, early bloomers are adored by one and all.  The spring blossoms pop out – often as early as February or March in our Northern California garden – and give new color and vitality after the drizzly cold gloomy winter.  Mind you, I don’t do daffodils – or any spring bulbs for that matter (too short of bloom time and too raggedy out of bloom, in my opinion), but I do love the deciduous azaleas and geum and euphorbias and hellebores – as well as the plum and peach tree blossoms – that brighten up our spring flower bed.

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Spring brings peach and plum tree blossoms to our garden

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Geum ‘Mai Tai’ looking lovely in April

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the spring-blooming, deciduous ‘Northern Lights’ azalea – almost iridescent

But by the time August rolls around those spring bloomers are pretty much spent….weary from their heavy blooms and the summer’s heat.   It’s just then that the asters and caryopteris and goldenrod begin their display.  Admittedly, the blossoms on these fall perennial bloomers may not be as big and in-your-face as those spring ones, but oh well.  Small can be lovely too.   And they’re there for you when you need them most.  Timing is everything.

We’ve got three varieties of asters just starting to bloom – ‘Purple Dome’, ‘Mönch’, and a purplish one which may be ‘Winston Churchill.’  I was wary of planting them, thinking they were too water-needy for our drought-tolerant garden, but they’ve done beautifully.

Andy (see today’s Andy’s Corner) and I recommend you seek out the late-bloomers.  They have a lot to offer.  And we’re very partial to these desserts from Julia Child too.

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The aster ‘September Ruby’ just barely breaking into bloom – the 1st day of August

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A lovely little aster – most likely ‘Winston Churchill’ (do you wonder, as I do, why it was named that?  Did it have anything to do with Lady Astor? 🙂

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