Last One's Standing: Autumn Photo Essay
Let's face 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 or golden euonymus in the company of burnt orange chrysanthemums. I was so happy with my autumn landscape this year that I felt compelled to share it with all you 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 test of time through many trials and errors. Some of the lasting survivors may even surprise you as much as they have amazed me! Tips for growing healthy plants and their special features included!
How you arrange your plantings can make or break the look of the landscape as well as effect the vigor of the plants. For example, the featured plant arrangement shown in the following four photos compliment one another blooming around the same time. The lavender and barberry both are fussy about having their feet too wet so go together well when planted on a slight slope or on top of a mound. The two chrysanthemums prefer being in partial shade, but aren't as fussy about being over watered.
Chrysantemums Lavendar and Barberry Arrangement
Hardy Mums - My sprawling orange chrysanthemum has flourished for at least five years and keeps on growing.
Tip: I attribute most of its success by being planted in a cool partially shaded spot which helps it through the hottest months of summer.
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 arising in the middle of October.
Tip: Butterflies and bees love this mum like no other 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 sit back and watch it grow.
Tip: As long as your lavender is planted in a higher elevation safe for its roots from becoming waterlogged, there's not much else you need to do except for a little trimming every few years. Like many herbs, it's another long lasting bloomer and will bloom a second time in the Fall as long as the first blooms of Summer are clipped after fading.
Barberry - The deep maroon hues of this little shrub compliments the brilliant shades of autumn providing constant interest and color.
Tip: The one growing in my landscape is a pygmy variety and another plant that doesn't like its roots too soggy. Consequently, it grows quite well on the slope next to my lavender bush. I've never had to trim it as it maintains a tight clumpy shape quite well.
Ornamental grasses are Autumns must haves. No matter which ornamental grass you choose among the many varieties offered, they all provide a finely textured backdrop for the entire landscape. Even better, they may look delicate, but don't be fooled, they are very resilient and a cinch to grow.
Tip: I no longer recommend the beautiful fountain grass I used to have which grows in compact mounds with a pinkish plumage. The reason being is they root themselves into your lawn taking it over with spots of tough unattractive clumps. Your lawn mower will thank you.
Japenese Silver Grass - Who wouldn't be inspired when the sun shines through the plumes of this towering Japanese Silver Grass which reaches 10 to 12 feet high! Another easy grower. Leave the plumage through winter before clipping it down for interest in the landscape even with the snow.
Japanese Blood Grass - Another favorite of mine is this water loving variety. It turns bright red in early summer and remains a bright spot in the landscape till the snow falls.
The purple cauliflower plumes of the giant sedum turn a rich crimson shade as the warm season surrenders its heat stroke. Hardy and drought resistant, they are a gorgeous essential to the landscape! I don't trim mine until the following Spring as they add interest in winter especially when puffy snowballs form atop of their round blossoms.
Euonymus and Azalea
The 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 leaves turned cherry pink do the trick.
Tip: With little effort, both of these plant varieties flourish through the best and worst conditions presented by the northern latitudes.
Oh my, how I love my hydrangeas. Who doesn't, right? They delight with colors of brilliant pink, blue or white hues in summer, eventually transforming their beauty to the rich hues of autumn. Even their leaves change like the maples and oaks.
Tip: Hydrate, and hydrate some more, as their name suggests. They can worry us at the end of a hot afternoon by their wilting leaves and blooms, but bounce back soon as the sun fades. Sometimes, an added sprinkle of water will bring them right back as well. Plant them in a spot where they get mostly morning sun and afternoon shade. Another suggestion, don't trim last years stems until the plant blooms. That's the best way to know for certain which stems are the bloomers. Also, Autumn is the best time for dried flower arrangements. Blooms clipped too early in the season tend to wilt. Wait for nature to dry them out for you.
Don't forget about the enduring petunia. During the the color gaps perennials sometimes lend, petunias are an easy annual plant that fills in the gaps and keeps on going to the very end of the growing season offering a variety of vibrant shades. Besides being super easy to grow, they provide a sweet fragrance from Spring to the first snowfall.
Tip: Keep them well watered and pinch the dead heads for continued growth through the Autumn season.
I don't mean just any rose bush. I have the popular "Knock Out" rose bush variety which is not a fancy hybrid, but it blooms over and over from late Spring until it finally surrenders to the frosty days of Winter. It's the most disease resistant of all types. Mine had grown into to 8 foot bushes until I decided to drastically cut them back, .
Tip: I dead head them regularly just to keep them looking tidy, even thought it's not totally necessary. The plant never fails to produce more lovely flowers. Also, they only need watering during the hottest, driest days of summer. Like most roses, they don't like water on their leaves so just be careful not to splash. If you don't want them to get very big, it's an easy fix because you wouldn't have to trim them constantly, once a year would be plenty.
Kathi's photography for purchase
- Kathi Mirto: Artist Website
Inspiration comes to me the beauty of nature all around, especially from my Lake Michigan shoreline community and just a step outside my front door to my country garden landscape.
Which is your favorite fall landscape bloom?
© 2010 Kathi Mirto