Fall Flowers Brighten Autumn Landscapes
(Page 3 of 4)
One of Ondra’s favorite tips is to wait until midsummer to sow or transplant annual flowers like California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and cleome so they will peak in early fall.
“These annuals, along with the later-flowering tender perennials, add a fresh look at a time when most people think of the garden as tired and fading,” she says. “Another perennial that doesn’t come into its own until late September or early October is Mexican sage (Salvia leucantha).”
Grasses, vines and seedheads
Ornamental grasses are in their full glory in fall, adding texture and motion to the scene, and many can be left standing for winter interest. With colors of russets, gold, yellow and straw, they are especially effective backlit by the sun when it’s low in the sky.
Vines aren’t to be dismissed when it comes to fall color. Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) covers the walls of our greenhouse in the fall with its deep orange to purple leaves. Other vines to consider are bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) for its bright orange berries, autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) that blooms late with a blanket of fragrant white flowers and ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida) that blooms all season long with intense orange blossoms. Attractive annual vines include my favorite ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glories (Ipomoea violacea), hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus) with its clusters of purplish-pink flowers and flat, deep purple seedpods, passionflower (Passiflora incarnate) and cathedral bells (Cobaea scandens).
Noel Kingsbury’s book, Seedheads in the Garden, demonstrates the role seedheads play in the late summer as a backdrop for fading flowers, a companion for grasses and native plants and a contribution to wildlife. Think rugosa rose hips, ‘Black Pearl’ ornamental peppers, flat saucers of achillea, cocoa-colored cones of rudbeckia (Rudbeckia hirta), blue-green poppy pods, and the balloon-like seedpods of love-in-a-puff (Cardiospermum halicacabum) and love-in-the-mist (Nigella damascena).
In northern hardiness zones, it takes time for tropicals to mature, but they are always worth the wait. Tall canna lilies, like ‘Pretoria,’ with striped leaves, water-loving elephant ears (Colocasia and Alocasia) like ‘Black Magic,’ caladiums (Caladium bicolor), ornamental bananas (Musafolia), Cordyline, Agave, Hibiscus and Brugmansia bring a touch of paradise into our Midwest garden.