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The Autumn Garden Surprises with Color Through October

“Alma Potchke” aster – multi-stemmed with abundant flower clusters

Autumn gardens hold surprising shades of color. Right now we gardeners have slipped into autumn and are looking at the new aspects of our gardens. My roses are nearly finished, but there is still a color riot in the garden. Here is a list of the colorful blooms (and berries) that are blossoming right now and will continue well into October.

First there are asters! I think the crowded blue blossoms with very fine foliage growing on the hugel is a Woods aster, but I’m not sure. I also have it growing on the hell-strip in front of the house. I mistook them as two different blue asters because the flowers on the hugel are a floppy foot tall, while the flowers on the hell-strip are on firm stems and three feet tall. Very mysterious. Perhaps the difference in size has to do with the soil, or the amount of sun they each receive.

Wood’s Blue asters – I think. Whatever they are, they are great autuman bloomers

Second is a tall, six foot white aster with tiny white flowers and very fine foliage is an unnamed variety. I can tell you that the bees and other insects think these asters are welcoming. They don’t care whether I know plant names; all those creatures just care about nectar and pollen.

Thirdly is my very glamorous aster Alma Potschke,  a beautiful shade of deep pink. She does not increase in size the way my other asters do. Alma Potschke is a lady. She increases in size a little bit every year, as ladies are wont to do, but she is very well behaved.

Needless to say there are many asters in many sizes and colors, shades of blue, purple, pink and white. They do prefer lots of sun. The asters in my garden and many others will bloom well through the fall.

White boltonia, “Snowbank” with a few energetic zinnia

Boltonia, either Snow Bank or Pink Beauty, are very special plants. They grow in a clump to five feet tall on very firm stems and will be strutting until late fall. In the fall they are completely covered with small aster-like blossoms, and with bees and butterflies. They are the most floriferous plants you can imagine.

Sheffies, more properly known as Sheffield daisies even though this is a chrysanthemum

We are all familiar with the pots of colorful chrysanthemums in front of the supermarkets.  The pink Sheffield daisy is not  among  them, but it is actually a chrysanthemum and one of my favorites. It is about 20 to 30 inches tall but usually flopping and covering the ground when other plants have called it a day.

Dahlias are a big family with flowers that bloom from white to rich shades of orange, red and purple. The flowers come in many forms and sizes from small blossoms that resemble daisies, to dinnerplate dahlias that will need sturdy stakes as they grow five feet tall.

Dahlias do not grow from seed. They grow from tubers and do not live through winters. When gardeners dig up dahlias in the fall they will find their one tuber is now three or four tubers.

This LimeLight hydrangea is getting a slight pink blush

Hydrangeas are big and glorious autumnal shrubs. Many hydrangeas change color over the seasons, as do many trees. I have three large hydrangeas, LimeLight which slowly turns a pale green, FireLight shades from white into red, and Angel’s Blush, has large airy blossoms that segue into pale shades of pink. I like panicle hydrangeas because they take so little work, just pruning in the early spring.

Sedums are plants that bloom in the fall. The fleshy foliage comes in shades of green, blue, deep red and gold. In September the flowers begin to make themselves known. Again they come in many colors. They are trouble free plants, increasing slightly every year. I’ve grown pink Autumn Joy which is a standard and dependable for years.

Ilex verticillata, or winterberry, loves water. It is a swamp plant

Ilex verticillata is one way of saying winterberries. Winterberries have tiny flowers, almost invisible to my old eyes. What they lose in pretty flowers, they make up in bright red, or golden berries. I am happy that winterberries are swamp plants so they are perfect for damp gardens like mine. As I write the winterberries are almost in full rich color. They are beautiful, and the birds will thank you. Just remember that to have berries which appear on female plants, you will need a lusty male. The male is able to take care of ten females. They don’t have to all be in your garden. Pollinating creatures will check out the neighbors when they find your winterberries.

Christmas holly in front of our house

Ilex aquifolium, is the English holly. The stiff deep green foliage with three or five sharp spines on each side and shiny red berries is one of the iconic Christmas plants. I was delighted that former residents of our house gave us the gift of an English holly, right in front of our house. It is already covered with brilliant red berries. I can make my own handsome Christmas swag for our front door every year.

Zinnias, lots of color, sizes and forms

Right now my cutting garden is a riot of color with zinnias in different shades, different forms and different sizes. I love the Cut and Come Again zinnias. These are flowers that need very little attention. We did occasionally water the zinnias, and other plants because the weather has been so dry. But zinnias are very tolerant of difficulties.

The days are getting shorter and darker, but we can have color in our gardens for quite a while.

Between the Rows  September 29, 2020