Fall Flowers Brighten Autumn Landscapes
Late season color will keep your property lovely as the leaves change.
Walking to this door takes a visitor past Sedum 'Autumn Joy,' Miscanthus and Rudbeckia.
As summer draws to a close, gardens can start to look a little ragged. Iris are long past their prime, and lilies have lost their blooms. Roses have developed blackspot, and delphinium lean dangerously close to the ground with not a flower in sight. No wonder my spirits soar at the sight of the tall, bronze stems of Helenium, stars of purple aster and golden rays of Heliopsis and black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta). Fall-blooming perennials add life to the flower border when our enthusiasm is flagging and nature is heading into winter.
Greg Bonovetz’s Duluth, Minnesota, garden comes into its own in autumn. Bees buzz among bright red blossoms of Monarda and sturdy stems of purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) contrast with ferny foliage and fine flowers of yarrow (Achillea species) and velvety leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers of Datura. White coneflowers blend with ‘Joan Senior,’ a creamy white daylily that blooms for six weeks.
A tall obelisk covered with pink flowers and shiny foliage of mandevilla makes a striking statement in the center of one bed, and spikes of Nicotiana sylvestris add a stately presence. ‘Stargazer’ lilies border another bed, their perfume pleasant in the morning air.
“One of the reasons I plant Oriental lilies is for the scent,” Bonovetz says, “and they look good when everything else is fading.”
Bonovetz extends his gardening season by using long-blooming annuals such as geraniums, marigolds, petunias and daturas and by mixing annuals and perennials in containers.
Landscape designer Ellen Zachos often gardens in Zone 7 on New York City terraces and balconies.
“A lot of the work for my clients is in large containers,” Zachos says, “and for most of my color, I rely on annuals because so much of the root space in these containers is taken up by trees and shrubs.” Among her favorite annuals are Scaevola aemula, lantana (Lantana camara) and torenia (Torenia fournieri). Scaevola blooms in New York right up to Thanksgiving, and it will survive temperatures down into the 30s. While it is invasive in some parts of the country, lantana is a great annual when grown beyond its hardiness zone. It never self-seeds, continues to do well without deadheading and blooms until the end of the gardening season. Zachos uses torenia, the wishbone plant, for shady spots.
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