Thursday, October 20, 2016
October Isn’t Just for Mums Anymore
The New England garden is so full of opportunity in the Fall. There’s this expectation that it’s time for the Winter blues to set in, maybe everyone is out trying to soak in every last ounce of sun they can get before their skin is doomed to be covered for the next 4 months.
While it’s great for you to be out in the garden doing Fall chores, we have to ask- is there still color out to delight you during your hard work? And if there is- do you only see the likes of mums and daisies around? Hey! There’s nothing wrong with mums and daisies, but maybe you’re looking for something a little different... Something that you don’t see when you walk up to the grocery store or pumpkin patch.
Maybe that’s just what you need before the cold sets in, a bit of SURPRISE.
So we simply must ask- are these five plants part of your landscape? Do you have a great team of delightful, surprising garden dwellers who come to bloom or berry just when you thought your garden was growing brown?
Helianthus-‘First Light’ These lovely late perennial sunflowers form dense clumps and get covered in flowers. They’re best grown in full sun and have a very unique pointy foliage that covers their whole stem!
3-4’ tall x 3-4’ wide Full sun
Rabdosia longituba- Nancy came running in with this plant and said “Can you see why one variety is called ‘Tube Socks?!’” and when you look closely, you can see this gorgeous bell-like arrangement of tubular flowers that grow on tall, leafy stems in the shade garden. Wispy, playful and unexpected, this plant is an underused game changer that should be in every perennial shade garden.
36” tall x 36” wide Sun/ part-shade
Callicarpa – When this compact, arching shrub starts to fill out, we always seem to hear people shouting “What!? PURPLE BERRIES?!” It matches the magical nature of this time of year, giving a showy display beyond compare.
2-4’ tall x 3-5’ wide Sun/ Part-shade
Liatris scariosa- with a species name that sounds like “scary-osa”, it’s a perfect October bloomer. It also loves those rocky, sandy soils and makes an excellent cut flower for your late-season bouquets. When you see the flower, you’ll understand why it’s commonly called ‘Blazing Star’.
2-4’ tall x 1-2’ wide Full sun
Colchicum and Fall Crocus- Fall blooming bulbs are the forgotten children of the garden. Usually when we think of bulbs we’re thinking of popping in things like bulbs like Tulips and Daffodils in Fall for Spring blooms. But what about bulbs you plant in late Summer/Early Fall for FALL blooms? Colchicum are completely pest proof. Although they're large bulbs, they can be nestled between perennials to fill your drab areas with color. Same with Fall-blooming crocus, consider growing saffron crocus with a delightful orange stamen that is harvested for the spice saffron.
Colchicum Double Waterlily planted in Black Mondo Grass
Winter Berry- A native plant that serves a purpose every time of year. The foliage gets brighter and better as the months grow colder until it eventually drops its leaves and shows off its brilliant red berries on slick dark stems. We use these berry-covered stems for stunning Christmas arrangements, and the birds use them for a much needed late season snack. One male plant is sufficient to pollinate 6-10 female plants, so get one of each to ensure cross pollination.
3-12’ tall x 3-12’ wide Sun/ Part-shade
P.s.- Don’t forget some of the late season soldier, here are some of the late season classics : Sedums, Asters and Anemones provide pollen for our late pollinators and make for amazing photos when filled with sleeping bumble bees on the cold mornings. Keep on planting!