As the weather gets cooler and leaves start falling, thoughts of spring may seem far removed….however, it precisely the time to be planning for all the bright color you will long to see popping in your garden early next year. Fall bulb planting is a ritual that can provide big payoffs for small efforts. Daffodils and tulips are the mainstays and every catalog and nursery abounds with selections. This year, consider trying something more unusual– something you haven’t seen or maybe even heard of. Bulbs are inexpensive and easy to install, so there is no downside to trying out new varieties. Below are links to a few of my personal favorites: Camassia lechtlinii, a mid-season bloomer on a graceful tall stalk with beautiful starry lavender or blue flowers. It’s airy and visually weightless bringing great color to spring garden beds. Ornithogalum magnum, another tall stem carrying starry white flowers that open from the bottom up. It’s an elegant partner to many lower early season perennials. Allium gladiator is a head turner that commands full attention with its big purple flower domes floating over lower plantings. At once whimsical and elegant, there really is nothing like it. All the other smaller alliums are also worth your consideration and all have the added benefit of being deer resistant. The Drumstick or allium sphaerocephalum is especially worth consideration. Ipheion uniflorum is a minor bulb that makes a lovely groundcover very early in the spring. Known as the Spring Starflower, it produces fragrant star shaped flowers that make a stunning low block of color when planted en masse. Deer and rodent resistant, colors range from white to deep periwinkle. Hyancinthoides hispanica, also known as Spanish Bluebells or Wood Hyancinth is an excellent choice for lightly shaded beds. From a base of strappy leaves a 15” tall stem emerges with tall clusters of dangling bell shaped flowers. They look lovely planted in groups below deciduous trees and in addition to being unattractive to deer and rodents, have added benefits of becoming more prolific over time.
The fall garden needs more attention from gardeners and landscape designers alike. It’s a time of equivalent beauty to spring and summer but because attentions may be elsewhere at this time of year, plants with fall interest are often overlooked. Japanese anemones, asters in all shapes and sizes, verbena bonariensis (my personal favorite), obedient plant, gaura in pink or white are all putting on a big show – while other perennials and shrubs are repeating earlier performances. The fading colors of many hydrangeas have their own special appeal at this time and make excellent cut flowers as well. Because many nurseries stock up early on great spring and summer performers, the use of fall perennials and shrubs is less emphasized in planting designs and most contractor installations. Extending interest into the fall season keeps the garden interesting into this later part of the year…a great reason to consider adding in these plants to your garden!