As September arrives with shorter, cooler days, the landscape regains vigor and color with a final flower show before winter sets in. In addition to predictable foliage changes, select perennials and shrubs come into their own, while annuals hit a peak before dying off for the year.
Some of my personal perennial favorites include asters, japanese anemone cultivars, turtlehead (chelone lyonni), and of course, many ornamental grasses. Retail nurseries tend to rely on perennials that flower from spring into high summer, often omitting selections for later months when homeowners spend less time outside. In designing a garden for year round interest, it is important to include fall flowering selections.
They brighten autumn days and round out the garden palette. They enhance views from indoor windows and greet family, guests and passersby that appreciate your house from the street perspective.
Several excellent shrubs shine during fall months: beautyberry (callicarpa bodinieri) with its amazing cascades of bright purple berries, coralberry (symphoricarpos orbiculatus), many viburnum cultivars, and winterberry hollies (ilex verticillata cultivars). These brighten the fall landscape and many work well for cutting arrangements to be enjoyed inside.
There are even bulbs for fall….peacock orchids (acidanthera murielae) and fall blooming cyclamen (cyclamen hederifolium) are more unusual selections for the plant connoisseur. Give some a try next year or encourage your designer to use them.
And don’t rush to remove summer annuals too quickly! Dahlias, salvias, verbena bonariensis and annual daisies are putting on strong show, so enjoy those last weeks of color. There is still time to get in cabbages, kales, winter pansies and ornamental grasses that will push the garden to those last moments before frost .
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