Being in the autumn of my own life makes me partial to fall garden performers. Late to the party, they are a sweet reminder that great things can occur at any moment in the continuum of time. In fact, one could argue that the waiting makes them sweeter.
As the gardening season rapidly draws to a close so does our expectation and anticipation of the new. Late bloomers are all the more gratifying for their strong show as the rest of the garden is fading away. Aided by lower temperatures and light levels, their vibrant colors pop against the backdrop of fall’s otherwise yellowing foliage.
Many perennials and shrubs are deserving of consideration in your fall garden. Here are a just a few of my favorites:
With daisy like flowers, fall asters come in a very wide range of heights and colors and are well known for their spectacular fall show. I prefer the shorter, stockier varieties that require no staking. Encourage an even more prolific flower show by pinching asters earlier in the season.
Great for part sun and easy naturalizing, anemones come in single and double forms and make excellent cut flowers. They are at once elegant, graceful and a little bit wild.
Grasses are peaking by the fall. Slow to start in spring, they hold off until late summer to make their showy plumes which, if left uncut, make great winter catch-alls for snow. My all time favorite is Pink Muhly Grass with its pink cotton candy-like inflorescences, but there are so many from which to choose. Most grasses prefer full sun but you’ll find some great selections, like hakonechloa macro Aureola, for shadier areas.
Nandina (heavenly bamboo) ranks high on my list for its unique exotic foliage and showy fall into winter performance. Nandina domestica has brilliant red berries, and the cultivar Firepower has vibrant red fall foliage. Nandina performs best in full sun but is quite tolerant of part sun and part shade situations.
Great fall foliage for this native shrub adds to its earlier season merits. A great naturalizer for part sun areas that also works well to control erosion. The name of cultivars Merlot tells you everything you need to know about its fall color show.
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