Many of the flowering plants we associate with fall are bright and brassy sun lovers -- asters, chrysanthemums, and goldenrods. But for late summer and fall blooms with a more elegant and understated appeal, as well as a tolerance for shade, consider hardy cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium). 'Sweetheart™ Sensation' cyclamen, a new, extra-hardy variety from Terra Nova Nurseries, thrives as far north as Zone 4 and makes a vigorous and fast-growing low groundcover that thrives even in the dry shade under trees and shrubs. From August to November, graceful pink flowers with swept-back petals hover on short stalks like a swarm of delicate butterflies. The hexagonal to octagonal green leaves accented with silver centers light up the garden and appear following the first blooms.
Cyclamen is easy to grow in shade to part shade in loose, well-drained, slightly organic soil. Plant as deep as the depth of the tuber from which it grows. In colder zones (Zone 6 and lower) protect plants over the winter with a light organic mulch. Plants go dormant in the heat of summer; add a mulch of leaf mold as the leaves shrivel and keep soil on the dry side when plants are dormant. Mix them with hostas or hellebores for season long interest.
To find out more about 'Sweetheart™ Sensation' cyclamen, go to: National Garden Bureau.