In the Garden:
The classic fall perennial, sedum adds pink colored flowers to the autumn garden.
My Best Fall Perennials
By fall, I am happy to let the flower garden take care of itself. And you know what? Some of it does! A number of perennials are very easy to grow, hardy in our region, and pay big dividends by fall. Some of my favorites for a sunny spot are boltonia, the sedums, and the hardy ageratum.
Welcome September Snow
Boltonia asteroides is native to North America, hardy to USDA Zone 4, and seems far tougher in constitution than its mildew-prone cousins the asters. I like the taller varieties such as 'Snowbank', as they tower over my head. My only complaint about boltonia is it tends to keel over in a windstorm. You could fight this tendency by staking it or by trimming it back once or twice early in the season. The trimming might delay the blooming time, however, and would also result in a slightly shorter plant.
Beyond 'Autumn Joy'
The sedums (hardy to zone 3) are great garden performers. Among them, sedum 'Autumn Joy' is probably one of the best-known and most widely distributed perennials. It grows about 2 feet tall and produces what I would call brick red flower heads over a period of months. Other late summer- and fall-blooming varieties of sedum display wonderful shades of pink flowers - from bright and garish to soft and subdued.
The hardy ageratum (Eupatorium coelestinum) is a taller (2-foot) lookalike version (though in a different genus) of the popular annual ageratum we see in six packs each spring. It's hardy to zone 5. The blue flowers appear in late summer or early fall and last for weeks. In good soil with ample moisture this plant might spread and become a pest, but blue flowers are so difficult to find in the perennial garden that I am willing to risk its escape. So far, a slightly dry soil and full sun have kept it in bounds with just a slight increase from year to year.
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