Tips for a fabulous fall garden

For many of us, fall is a time more than ever to celebrate the season! Hot, humid days give way to crisp, bright afternoons perfect for apple picking, warm cider and maybe even a pumpkin donut!

Fall is one of my favorite times of year and I love all that the fall garden has to offer. I love planting ornamental kale, annual grasses and mums. I love accenting with all the unique pumpkins that are available today! Whites, greens, I especially love the gnarly bumpy pumpkins! Annuals are annuals and they only last until we get a hard frost, why not get creative and use some indoor houseplants like Croton Petra which is easily available at Wal Mart and even Home Depot. Gourds are another great way to accent any fall garden. We have a garden in Clinton, CT that we fill with pumpkins, gourds and mums. Many of our Madison clients like annuals in the garden, and we change them out this time of year for mums and ornamental millet and kale.

Along with annuals, you’ll want to select perennials and shrubs that also do your fall garden justice. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is one of my favorites with it’s russet-colored blooms. Anemone’s are another great perennial that comes to life in the autumn garden. In white or pink, it’s really an eye catcher.

New England Asters are another perennial that blooms in the fall, and they’re native which is a big bonus. Don’t overlook butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) that has finished blooming by now, but has these really interesting seed pods! Of course, most of your summer blooming perennials such as false sunflower (Heliopsis), Salvia and Phlox among others will still bloom until we have a frost.

There are a number of shrubs that have great autumn characteristics too. Virginia Sweetspire (Itea) will grace you with lovely, long white blooms in the summer, but now it’s foliage starts to turn a scarlet red. The same is true with blueberries! Not only do they produce fruit during the summer but blueberry bushes (Vaccinum) have great foliage color in the fall. Bluebeard (Caryopteris) is a fall blooming plant. Some consider it a perennial, while others a small shrub. Either way, it’s beautiful blue flowers enrich any garden this time of year.

How about some of our berry producing friends? Beautyberry (Callicarpa) is a fabulous shrub for the fall. Filled with clusters of bright purple berries, this shrub is a knock out in the fall garden. I am also partial to the Winterberry Hollies (Ilex Verticillata). With berries of red or gold, they are a stand out in the autumn garden. The Ilex are dioecious, which means there are a male and a female. A female needs a male to get berries. Not all males will pollinate all females, so be sure to check with your local garden center to ensure you have the correct set.

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