Fall-Flowering Gardens: Creating Color and Interest During the Off-Season
By Nikki Phipps
Flower gardens need not be restricted to spring and summer enjoyment. There are many plants that bloom throughout the fall season as well. In fact, fall flower gardens not only provide extended blooming, but foliage, berries, bark, and other focal points can also provide additional color and interest. Additionally, fall gardens offer food and shelter to wildlife at a time when it may otherwise be scarce.
The best time to plant a fall-flowering garden is late September through early October, depending on where you live. Check the hardiness zone for your particular area beforehand.
Many cool-season annuals work well in fall-flowering gardens, such as snapdragons, pot marigolds, and pansies. These types of annuals are available in a variety of colors so finding one that suits your taste shouldnï¿½t be a problem.
Bulbs such as lilies, autumn crocus, and cyclamen also do well in a fall-flowering garden. Numerous perennials also bloom during autumn and provide additional interest throughout winter too.
Some of the most popular fall-blooming perennials include asters, chrysanthemums, and goldenrods.
Trees and shrubs help to give the fall-flowering garden additional shape, texture, and color. Once flowering bulbs and other plants have begun to fade, the intense shades of leaf color, ranging from yellow and orange to red and purple, create a stunning display. Japanese maples and witch hazels are commonly seen in the fall-flowering garden, providing brilliant fall foliage.
Most of us think of the blooms as the major attraction on a rose bush. However, did you know there are many rose varieties that offer colorful fall foliage as well, such as Virginia Rose and Blue Rambler? Their leaf color can be further enhanced by placing them among a background of evergreens. When choosing trees and shrubs for the fall-flowering garden, you should also consider their bark characteristics. For instance, those that peel or provide unusual color can be quite appealing in the fall-flowering garden.
Ornamental grasses generally reach their peak during autumn, adding texture, volume, and color to the fall-flowering garden. Many of these develop seed heads after flowering has ceased, and their foliage turns golden-brown.
Berries also ripen in the fall and supply additional color and interest with shades of red, purple, and yellow. There are many groundcovers that produce berries and have colorful leaves. Even some of the evergreen varieties make attractive additions.
Ornamental plants can also complement other fall-bloomers. For instance, ornamental kales range in color from white to red with green or purple foliage. Ornamental peppers produce bright red fruits that cover the plant, creating a unique presence in the fall-flowering garden.
Additional features for the fall-flowering garden include focal elements such as statues, ponds, stones, arbors, etc. Creating a fall-flowering garden can extend seasonal interest beyond the spring and summer months; and many plants in these gardens will continue to thrive for years to come.
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