Fall can be the icing on the gardening season, if you give some thought earlier in the season to plants that shine in autumn. Long after the last daylily has faded, fall bloomers
and plants with electric foliage come out from the shadows and take center stage.
The one catch to having a dazzling fall garden is that you need to plant it earlier in the season. Spring is best, but early summer is when plants start to go on sale and fall bloomers are usually still in great supply.
Fall blooming perennials bide their time all summer, growing tall and stately or bushy and covered in buds. Just when you and your summer flowers are ready to call it a day, fall bloomers like asters and helenium burst out in the jewel tones of the season; deep purples, rusts, scarlet and gold. Plant them early in the season for the best show and to ensure they are well established before winter.
There are strictly fall bloomers and then there are perennials that just keep going until frost, like coneflowers, balloon flowers and bellflowers. Here's a mix, that will keep your garden going the entire season.
Whether you choose fall bloomers or long bloomers, both types will perform better if you give them a periodic pruning or pinching during the summer. Long bloomers will be revived and start putting out more flower buds. Fall bloomers will send out more side shoots and get studier, as well as producing more flowers.
Shrubs and vines anchor a garden in all four seasons. Evergreens are the champions of four season interest, but for a fall show, look to shrubs and vines with brilliant foliage and colorful berries. There are even a few charmers out there that will bloom in the fall. Every garden should have a handful of shrubs in it and those listed here do multiple duty in the garden.
Each season more wonderful new ornamental grasses are introduced. It's the rare garden that doesn't have a clump or two or three of ornamental grasses. They're very low maintenance, while adding structure, movement and sound
to the garden bed. But because of their undemanding nature, ornamental grasses often get taken for granted in the garden. In the fall garden, ornamental grasses let their true colors show, with striking foliage and large colorful plumes. They look good enough to harvest and actually do make wonderful additions to both fresh and dried arrangements. Here are some of my favorites.
There's no reason to let your containers become eye sores in the fall. The plants in containers have been blooming their hearts out all season and may well need replacing once the cooler weather sets in. Fall is a wonderful time to play with color in your containers and it can easily come from foliage as well as flowers. These 8 plants enjoy the cooler weather of fall and make your containers far more interesting than the typical pot of not so hardy mums.