Last One's Standing: Autumn Photo Essay
Fall Season's Inspiration
Let's admit it, fall is not the time to be blue over the faded blooms of summer. If you cultivate your garden landscape for seasonal rhythms, you'll be inspired by the beauty certain cool weather bloomers offer. When selecting varieties, picture in your mind the warm lustrous hues of crimson giant sedums and golden euonymus in the company of burnt orange chrysanthemums. I was so inspired by my own autumn landscape this year that I felt confident enough to share it with all the plant lovers out there. The photographs of my most enduring plants were taken in early November from my Michigan yard, which by the way, lies in zone 5. My garden landscape has finally reached a certain maturity, withstanding the tests of time through many trials and errors. Some of the lasting survivors may even surprise you as much as they have amazed me! Tips included!
Golden Princess Euonymus & Azalea - This Golden Princess Euonymus is a permanent bright spot in the landscape and guaranteed winner. The azalea next to it provides a perfect companion. In the springtime, its magenta blooms compliment the Golden Princess, whereas during the fall, its cherry pink leaves do the trick. Tip: With little effort, both of these plant varieties flourish through the best and worst conditions the northern latitudes present.
Hardy Orange Mum - This sprawling mum has flourished for at least five years and keeps on growing. Tip: I attribute most of its success to being planted in a cool partially shaded spot.
Amazing Sheffield Pink Mum - Not your average mum! It's an old fashion variety casting a super sweet fragrance which lingers yards away with the slightest breeze. It has a long lasting bloom-time arising in the middle of October. Butterflies and bees love it and its great for cutting. Best of all, its super easy to take care of whether planted in partial shade or full sun.
Lasting Lavender - The blue gray color of a lavender bush is a cool contrast to the warm hues of fall. Simply plant one in the ground then stand back and watch it grow. Tip: As long as its roots are safe from becoming waterlogged, there's not much else you need to do to it except for a little trimming every few years. It's another true long lasting bloomer and this particular one in the photo is actually blooming for the second time this season.
Barberry - I like how the deep maroon of this little shrub compliments the brilliant shades of autumn. Tip: This one is a pygmy variety and its another plant that doesn't like its roots too soggy. Consequently, it grows quite well next to the lavender bush. I've never trimmed it cause I guess I prefer the natural look.
Ornamental Grasses(Autumn must haves)
Who wouldn't be inspired when the sun shines through the plumes of this towering Japanese Silver Grass? No matter which ornamental grass you choose among the many varieties offered, they all provide a finely textured backdrop to the entire landscape. Even better, they may look delicate, but don't be fooled. They are very resilient and a cinch to grow. Another favorite of mine is the Japanese Blood Grass cause it turns bright red in early summer and stays that way till the snow flies. Clumpy and wind driven, the Fountain Grasses are another elegant choice for easy care and added garden interest.
Giant Sedums - Their purple cauliflower plumes turn a rich crimson shade as the warm season surrenders its fire. Hardy and drought resistant, they are a gorgeous essential to the landscape! I don't trim mine until the following Spring because the add interest in Winter when puffy snowballs form atop their round wide blossoms.
Surprising Endurance (photos below)
Oh my, how I love my hydrangeas. Who doesn't, right? They delight with colors of soft pastels in summer, eventually transforming their beauty to the rich hues of autumn. Even their leaves change like the maples and oaks. Tips: Hydrate, and hydrate some more, as their name suggests. Always keep last years stems intact till the plant blooms. That way you'll know for certain which ones can be clipped. Also, the longer the bloom is left on the bush in the fall, the better for dried flower arrangements. Cuttings clipped too early in the season tend to wilt. Wait for nature to dry them out for you.
Known for their bold silvery foliage and hot humid preference, they unexpectedly sustain during fall's cool down and continue to show off their silvery fluff. Tip: Just keep in mind they spread into rather large bushes and need your area gives them plenty of room. Otherwise, you'll be cutting them back more that you'll probably like to.
During the the color gaps perennials sometimes lend, they keep the garden consistently colorful with various vibrant shades. And the persistence of petunias is a garden bonus. Besides being super easy to grow, they provide eye-catching hues along with a sweet fragrance from Spring to the first snowfall. Tip: Keep them well watered and pinch the dead heads for continued growth through Fall.
My rose bush is not a fancy hybrid, but it blooms over and over from late spring until it finally surrenders to the frosty days of winter. Today its an 8 foot bush and it began as a meager two foot plant. Tips: I dead head it regularly and it never fails to produce more lovely flowers. Other than that, I only water it occasionally during the hottest, driest days of summer.
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