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Fallscaping in the Garden

19 August 2014
Fallscaping in the Garden

We may still be enjoying beach weather in August, but slowly and surely the days are getting shorter, heralding the not-too-distant arrival of autumn and the start of a new gardening season. It's time to think about some "fallscaping" -- integrating perennials, trees, shrubs, tender tropicals, and ornamental grasses along with seasonal plants like mums and ornamental kale for an extended show of color, form, and texture. Fall gardening season extends through September, October, November, and in some areas, even into December. There's still a lot to enjoy before cold weather closes in!

Choose Perennial Color Echoes
When choosing perennials for late season interest, select ones whose flowers or foliage pick up the autumnal colors of your trees and shrubs, such as the tall daylily 'Autumn Minaret' with its yellow-orange flowers . Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii), a cloud of golden foliage in the fall, plays well with shrubby, golden-leaved, blue-flowered Sunshine Blue caryopteris (Caryopteris incana 'Jason'). Euphorbias, Bergenia 'Cabernet', new cultivars of Heuchera villosa, and Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' are perennials whose coppery, purple, blue, or rose foliage in fall can complement red maples, beautyberry (Callicarpa), Golden Spirit smoketree (Cotinus coggygria 'Ancot'), or Hypericum calycinum 'Brigadoon'. Late-blooming, blue-flowering plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) can cover a sunny, dry corner or spill over a rock wall. The elegant scarlet crocosmia 'Lucifer' is a hardy, late-season gem. With it tall, arching flower clusters, it brightly accents any neighbor, be it orange dahlia, pink or red rose, yellow perennial sunflower, golden black-eyed Susan, or evergreen shrub.

Queen of the Fall Flower Garden
Among late-season bloomers, Japanese anemones are longtime favorites, sometimes referred to as "the queen of the fall garden" for their graceful beauty. Try Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert' for pure white blossoms; 'September Charm' for pale purple. Combine them with the coppery-purple Actaea (formerly Cimicifuga) simplex 'Hillside Black Beauty' with tall, fragrant, white, bottle-brush flowers and coppery-purple foliage.

Tropicals and Grasses Add Interest
Long-lasting tender tropicals like cannas, bananas, and elephant ears bring exotic flowers and foliage to the traditional perennial bed as long as frost holds off. Many annuals, such as marigolds and petunias, also continue blooming until frost. Tall annual and perennial grasses, such as purple fountain grass, 'Northwind' switch grass, and big blue stem (Andropogon), have multi-season interest with fluffy, airy, spiky, or feathery seedheads waving above tufts of grass blades from autumn into winter.

When adding plants for fall interest, keep track of what's planted where with Copper Plant Markers from our Gardening with Kids catalog. Weatherproof and rustproof, these attractive markers work equally well in garden beds or container gardens.

Don't just let your garden fade out as fall approaches. Plan to keep your garden vibrant and colorful through the autumn months with some fallscaping!