You may notice it first when people start pointing out that the days are getting shorter. Darkness creeping into the evening earlier and earlier every day, transforming larger and larger sections of day into night. A few leaves have already started falling, even though the feeling of summer hangs on tight. The mornings start to get cold, and and people’s email signatures hint at a new season approaching. But before we get our sweaters out and sending salutations to the sun before dinner starts, there’s still more to enjoy in the garden. Some late summer harvesting, some seed gathering, and some last attentions before the plants go to bed for winter. Lots of plants are still showing off their grand finale at the Snoqualmie Tribe’s Native Plant Landscape, so here’s a hint of what we’re up to and which plants are grabbing our attention.

Flowering heads of Pearly Everlasting in the late summer.

Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)
Type: Perennial
Range: Common across Washington, on both sides of the Cascade mountains
Landscape Conditions: Dry or partially moist soils, prefers full sun

A cluster of Pearly Everlasting flowering in the landscape.

Pearly Everlasting is true to its name, persisting in the tough growing conditions of late summer when other plants may be showing signs of drought stress. Bunches of tall upright stems grow together, adding brightness to the landscape from July through September. The white part of these flowers are actually shiny papery bracts, which hold on long after the yellow true flowers at the center have gone away. This makes this plant good for flower arrangements, and a dried bouquet will last through the winter, maybe for years! Flower buds gathered in mid-summer can be used in a tea to clear airways and soothe sore throats.

This plant is easy to add to a sunny landscape. It can spread with rhizomes, stems that grow underground, so the biggest task will be deciding where you don’t want it to grow. Fall is a good time to dig out sections of these rhizomes to move the plant into new spaces. It is an herbaceous perennial so in winter we cut the stems back to an inch or two above the soil, revealing the evergreen structure of the landscape.

A cane of Black Cap Raspberry with small thorns and a milky colored stem.

Blackcap Raspberry (Rubus leucodermis)
Type: Biennial
Range: Meadows and open woods on both sides of the Cascade mountains
Landscape Conditions: Moist well-draining soils, full or partial sun

A black cap raspberry in the landscape can grow in many different forms. This individual takes the form of a shrub.

The blackcap raspberry has a delicious purple-black fruit that you can harvest in mid-summer to use in baking or jam, if you ever get past the point of eating them straight off the plant! A good way to tell this plant apart from invasive blackberry or other brambles is the white color on first-year stems, another name for it is ‘Whitebark’.

The canes on this plant are biennial, meaning they live for two years. During the first year, canes only grow vegetatively and won’t produce any fruit.  During their second year they will flower and fruit and then die at the end of that season. So, late summer is a good time to cut back old canes to encourage lots of berry growth for next year.

The new growth can grow very tall and upright, arching overhead, in a shape that can work well in some landscape spaces. But thorns are sharp and can snag you while you’re working nearby, so stay safe. Consider planting them away from paths you travel through often. If your garden has a fence you can weave the canes through to keep them in one place, and for easy berry-picking!

You can also work together with the plant to shape it and help it grow using a technique called tip-rooting or layering. If you place a rock to hold the end of the cane against the soil the terminal bud will send out roots, anchoring it in place and eventually forming a whole new plant.