Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Colorful Autumn Garden (Part 3)

Autumn garden bouquet
On a recent early October afternoon under a clear blue sky, I had tea while on my swing in the garden. Nearby were fall asters in full bloom. In addition to enjoying the beauty of the asters, I watched as the bees and Monarch butterflies busily move from one blossom to another.  I would not want to miss these moments in my fall garden and neither should you.  Choosing the right plants will keep color in your garden well into late October. 

Asters and Eupatorium Chocolate
According to ancient Greek mythology, goddess Asterea looked at earth and could not find any stars, she cried. The aster, with flowers resembling blinking stars, grew out of the soil, wherever her tears fell. Perennial asters are late season bloomers that come in a wide range of colors: pink, white, blue, red and purple. It is impossible to imagine an autumn garden without asters. In fact, there are hundreds of aster varieties to satisfy any taste.  Pinch them back around mid-July and they will produce a profusion of 1- to 2-inch-wide, star-shaped flowers.

As the name implies, Eupatorium Chocolate (Chocolate Joe Pye Weed, Chocolate Snakeroot) is a mass of chocolate-purple leaves all summer with shiny deep purple stems and petioles, smothered in autumn with small white flowers. While Eupatorium Chocolate likes moist shade, it does fine in the sun if ample moisture is provided.  Pinching back around mid-July will keep the plant more compact, if desired.
Hardy Begonia and Wood Asters

Hardy begonias are still going strong and look great with Eupatorium Chocolate and asters.  The red veins of the begonia look like stained glass in the sunlight.  The great thing about the begonia is that it seeds freely.  I was excited when I found some white begonias.  Absolutely one of my favorites in the shade garden.

Stems on ‘Lady in Red’ hydrangea become more intense in the cooler temperatures.  Other hydrangeas such as Little Lamb, Limelight, and Tardiva are taking on a more blushed tint while Endless Summer is still putting out new flowers.
Fall Anemone
Hibiscus Diana blooms on tirelessly which, by the way,  is why she is not a prolific reseeder.   Agastache Blue Fortune and Phlox that had been cut back in late summer are flowering once again along with spirea Anthony Waterer.  Fall anemones are still vying for attention.  Even though the flowering has slowed down, butterfly bushes that have been deadheaded regularly are still in color.

Fall gardeners need to look beyond flowers for color.  Grasses are sending up beautiful seed heads of various shades and texture. Nothing is more beautiful than sun glistening on dew covered seed heads of grasses.  Clusters of Callicarpa’s (American Beautyberry) glossy pink-purple berries cling to the stems.  Callicarpa should be cut to the ground each spring as berries form on new wood.  Not to be outdone by brilliant red Chokeberry, the berries on cotoneaster and winterberry are turning brilliant red-orange as well.  

And soon ….but that will all have to wait for Colorful Fall Gardening, Part 4. 

Remember, fall bloomers can get very tall and leggy growing foliage all summer. Once they bloom, they are often top heavy and fall over. To ensure your fall display is as glorious has it should be, you will either need to stake your fall bloomers earlier in the season or do some periodic pruning to make the plants stockier and more self-supporting. Keep in mind that if you prune your plants, you will be delaying the bloom period by a week or more.

All photographs were taken October 3, 2010, and can be enlarged by clicking on the picture.

Two books I highly recommend for seasonal gardening:
Time-Tested Plants by Pamela J. Harper and
Continuous Bloom by Pam Duthie 

Related blogs:
Colorful Fall Gardening, Part 1
Colorful Fall Gardening, Part 2
Colorful Fall Gardening, Part 4 

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