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Late Blooming Perennials are the Standouts of Fall Gardens

by Carole McCray

As gardeners, we think of fall as a time to tidy up our garden beds and prepare for winter's onset. But fall does not have to signal an end to your gardening season. With late blooming perennials, autumn can be the beginning rather than the finale to another season. Your Growise Center will help you discover late blooming perennials, ornamental foliage, plants and grasses, woody plants, and fall blooming bulbs for your fall garden, suited for your local area. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

Fine Fall Latecomers

Alphabetically speaking, Anemone vitifolia 'Robustissima' is an ideal plant for the fall garden. hardy and elegant, it grows to a height of 3' (91.44 cm) and bears blush-pink flowers that resemble dogwood blossoms. By the end of October, blooms are finished, and its seed pods open up into cotton-like white puffs that are fetching in a dried arrangement. For border plants with white blossoms, look for varities of Anemone japonica, such as Avalanche or Whirlwind, or the deep pink of Panaina.

Aster X Firkartii 'Wonder of Staffa' brings rich blue color to the garden. Blooms form in midsummer with lavender-blue flowers appearing by fall. It is a superb plant that, in a sunny spot, reaches about 3' (91.44 cm) tall. In my garden, it is planted by a mammoth gray rock, which acts as a softening accent for the aster's blue intensity. Asters form a large genus with star-shaped flowers of various colors. Many are native to North America, so look for varieties that thrive in your area.

Aster Novi Belgii, or the New York Aster, is a shorter-growing aster that bears violet petals resembling a daisy. It is often referred to as Michaelmas daisy since it appears in late September close to the feast of St. Michael. Aster Lateriflorus 'Horizontalis' or Calico Aster, create a large rosy cloud of blossoms if planted in groups of three.

Boltonia Asteroides 'Snowbank' and 'Pink Beauty' are a winning combination. 'Snowbank' produces abundant white daisy-like flowers in September and grows almost 4' (121.92 cm), while 'Pink Beauty' gifts the garden through October.

Physostegia Virginia, 'Vivid' is true to its name. The plant's common name, false dragonhead, has snapdragon-like fuschia flowers that open in August. It grows to nearly 5' (152.40 cm) and in moist, light soil, the plant may need to be contained. Pinching it back in midsummer will prevent spindly growth.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' is a low-maintenance plant. Succulent gray-green foliage emerges in late spring to 2' (60.96 cm). It entertains the garden with ongoing colors--green clustered buds in summer, and by September, creamy white flowers turn deep rose that darken to a rich crust. When seed heads are adorned with a dusting of snow, 'Autumn Joy' is a joy to behold in the winter garden.

Chrysanthemums are not to be scorned. Chrys. pacificum with yellow flowers and Chrys. weyrichii, with pink, have a spreading, rounded form.

Foliage for the Fall Garden

Characterized for their beautiful foliage, Artemisia 'Silver King' and 'Silver Queen' can add impact to a garden. Artemisia's soft silvery-gray foliage reaches nearly 5' (152.40 cm). Grown in the sun, they can become invasive, while in a shady spot, artemisia can be controlled. 'Powis Castle' displays elegant blue-gray foliage and is not prone to straying. 'Silver King' and 'Silver Queen' are good for softening strong-hued flowers. They shimmer in the moonlight in an all-white garden, and are lovely in a holiday arrangement with holly and evergreens.

Splendor in the Grasses

Ornamental grasses in the garden combined with the blazing autumn palette overhead equal one spectacular duo. Miscanthus Sinensis brings a succession of shades to the garden from spring's green foliage to tan leaves and pink tasseled plumes in the fall. Grasses introduce form, motion, and sound to the garden. Plumes sway and rustle in the wind, while shapes are transformed by a veil of snow.

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