In the Garden:
'Rozanne' hardy geranium produces exquisite flowers all summer long and well into autumn.
Some Other Flowers of Autumn
Do a word association with people for "fall" and "flowers," and you'll most likely hear "chysanthemums." A few astute, experienced gardeners might answer "asters" or maybe "sedums." Certainly, these are the showstoppers of autumn, but there are a number of other flowering plants that can make the fall garden appealing. The best part is that many start blooming in late July or early August. That's what I call getting your moneys worth.
So if your garden starts to look bedraggled after the daylilies fade in July, here are some suggestions of plants that deliver color up to, and even past, frost.
Late Summer Bloomers
Bluebeard (Caryopteris cultivars) - Compact mounded shrubs to 3 feet tall, bluebeards have thin stems covered in blue flowers from August on. 'Blue Mist' and 'Arthur J. Simmonds' are powder blue, while 'Dark Knight', 'First Choice', 'Grand Bleu' and 'Petite Bleu' have deep blue flowers. 'Worcester Gold' and 'Sunshine Blue' have golden-chartreuse leaves. Hardy to Zone 5. Cut plants back to the ground in spring.
Brazilian verbena (Verbena bonariensis) - A stunning plant all summer long, especially when massed, the Brazilian verbena also is a butterfly magnet. Although only hardy to Zone 7, it readily (sometimes excessively) reseeds through at least Zone 6. It is a spiky, airy plant with small heads of tiny purple flowers on plants to 4 feet tall.
Dwarf maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis cultivars) - Ornamental grasses play a big role in fall gardens. If space is limited in your garden, consider two of the dwarf miscanthus, 'Adagio' and 'Yaku Jima', growing 3 to 4 feet tall, with thin, graceful foliage and silvery heads of flowers. In 2004, a highly touted dwarf zebra grass will be available.
Golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia) - Golden lace blooms from July until frost with airy clusters of tiny chrome-yellow flowers. After the blooms fade, the remaining flower parts retain the golden color. Plants grow to 6 feet tall, but there is a great deal of size difference in seedling-grown plants, which is probably what you'll find to buy. Hardy through Zone 5.
Goldenrod (Solidago species and cultivars) - No, the glorious golden flowers do not cause hay fever. That culprit is ragweed. Europeans have taken our roadside "weed" and developed dozens of outstanding, long-blooming varieties ranging in size from 18 inches to 5 feet and hardy through Zone 5. My favorite is called 'Fireworks'.
Japanese anemone (Anemone x hybrida, also listed as A. japonica) - This has been one of my favorite flowers for over thirty years, what with its ability to grow in shade and produce abundant slender stems of daisy-like blooms of pink or white. Depending on the variety, plants grow 2 to 5 feet tall with single or semi-double flowers. Taller varieties will need staking, and plants take at least a year to become established. Hardy through Zone 4.
'Rozanne' hardy geranium (Geranium 'Rozanne') - There are dozens of new hardy geranium cultivars for consideration, but 'Rozanne' is particularly outstanding as it blooms from June until frost on plants up to 3 feet across and 21 inches high. It has lavender-blue blooms 2 inches across with a veined, paler center. Plants withstand summer heat with some light shade and evenly moist soil. Hardy through Zone 4.
'Sonoran Sunset' anise hyssop (Agastache cana 'Sonoran Sunset') - A cultivar of a plant native to west Texas and southern New Mexico, 'Sonoran Sunset' bears spikes of small peachy pink flowers all summer long on 18-inch-tall and wide plants. It is hardy to Zone 5 and does well in hot, dry conditions.
Care to share your gardening thoughts, insights, triumphs, or disappointments with your fellow gardening enthusiasts? Join the lively discussions on our FaceBook page and receive free daily tips!