Written by Mark Dwyer
As the season progresses into autumn…
We certainly hope to enjoy flowers in the garden as late as possible although we take some solace and enjoyment when seeing the tapestry of rich coloration of fall color throughout our woodlands and gardens. Mother Nature certainly makes the call on when the season’s transition and for those of us in areas where autumn includes this colorful progression of foliage, we certainly enjoy this final blast of color before the solemn tones of brown, grey and white begin to dominate our winter landscapes.
Andropogon gerardii ‘Blackhawks’
Andropogon gerardii ‘Dancing Wind’
Fall color abounds…
However, most of the credit for glowing fall color contributions goes to our stately deciduous trees like sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red oak (Quercus rubra) and other consistently beautiful natives. Many of our shrubs also offer significant fall color which is a feature worthy of consideration at the time of purchasing and placement. Unfortunately, though, the significant fall color provided by many of our herbaceous perennials goes unnoticed, under-promoted and underappreciated in the landscape.
Epimedium hybrida ‘Black Sea’
Don’t miss the fall color of perennials…
The majority of our perennials are selected for features such as beautiful flowers, a long bloom time, scent, wildlife potential, wonderful foliage texture, etc. These are all valid considerations and come in to play when creating displays and combinations. All too often though, the final phase of our herbaceous perennials prior to sliding into winter dormancy includes a color transition or transformation. Even more common perennials such as irises, hostas, and daylilies get some degree of yellow that might catch the eye in the autumn landscape. Many perennials will transition into rich, autumnal tones of orange and red. It is important to note that some of the best fall colors on perennials come VERY late in the season…sometimes not until well after Halloween. November will frequently reveal some nice coloration well after deciduous trees have dropped their foliage for the season.
Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Karmina’
xHeucherella ‘Gold Zebra’
Worth the extra look…
Observing the late-season garden for these “blips” of color is worth the effort as these explorations might reveal some welcome and warming color in a landscape becoming increasingly more barren. The significant fall color on the perennials included in this blog are reason enough to include them in the garden and enjoy them late in the season, well after their flowers are long gone.