Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
September, 2005
Regional Report

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This is no time to rest on your laurels, it's time to plant perennials.

Fall's Bountiful Blooms

The worst of summer's heat is over. Nights are getting cooler. So you think the garden season is coming to an end? NOT! You can still add color to the landscape this fall by planting perennials, and they will perform with even more gusto next season. Hummingbirds will thank you when you set out the Zauschneria species, giant hyssops (Agastache), false chamomile (Boltonia 'Snowbank'), and leadwort (Ceratostigma).

Perennials planted now still have time to become established before the ground freezes, and since the aboveground growth won't be stressed by the summer heat, transplanting is much easier. Besides, many are a bargain at half off because garden retailers are trying to sell out their stock.

Favorites for Fall
To extend the garden season, don't overlook ornamental grasses. Their foliage and texture will add accents and sound to the garden. When backlit by the sun at sunrise or sunset, grasses add another unique dimension to the landscape.

For instant gratification or to spruce up dull spots in the garden, plant asters, hardy garden mums, and those cool-tolerant pansies and violas. There are asters to fit just about any garden's color scheme, with flowers of purple, rose, pink, violet-red, or white. The little, brightly lit faces of pansies and violas put on a vivid display through fall and early winter. They can be planted as late as early November.

Late-Blooming Bulbs
Late-summer and fall-blooming bulbs will add interest and surprise to a garden. Ideally, they are planted in spring, but if you buy them soon and plant right away, you might get blooms later this fall. Autumn crocuses (Crocus speciosus) and meadow saffron (Colchicum autumnale) are unique in that they push up delicate lilac or violet-blue flowers with no foliage, and then die back. The leaves that replenish the bulbs will appear in spring.

One of my favorites is Colchicum 'Waterlily', a multipetaled flower that looks as if it should be floating in a water feature, not growing in a perennial border. Let it grow through lower ground covers that help camouflage its nakedness.

This is no time to sit on your laurels. By planting now you'll be rewarded with blooms now and "for infinity and beyond!"

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