Creating a fall flower garden

Tips and ideas on creating a fall flower garden that can extend seasonal interest beyond the spring and summer months.

Flower gardens need not be restricted to spring and summer enjoyment. There are many plants that bloom throughout the fall as well. In fact, fall flower gardens not only provide extended blooming time, but sources like foliage, berries, bark, and other focal points can also provide additional color and interest. These gardens offer food and shelter to wildlife as well, at a time when it otherwise may be scarce.

The best time to plant a fall garden is generally late September through early October. Checking hardiness zones for your particular area beforehand is especially helpful, and many resources are available which provide this information. Many cool-season annuals work well in a fall garden. Some of these might include snapdragons, pot marigolds, and pansies. These types of annuals are available in a variety of colors. If spent flowers are deadheaded continually, many of these plants will bloom throughout the fall. Bulbs such as lilies, autumn crocus, and cyclamen also do quite nicely in a fall garden. Numerous perennials also bloom during autumn and provide added interest throughout winter as well. Some of the most popular fall-blooming perennials include asters, chrysanthemums, and goldenrod. These should be planted in early fall.

Asters and mums will produce compact plants with continual blooming if pinched. Both types of flowers are available in a variety of colors. Asters range from purple, pink, and white while mums consist of red, pink, lavender, bronze, yellow, and white. When placed in mass plantings, these flowers produce intense, colorful impact. Goldenrod is extremely hardy; and during autumn, this plant will provide beautiful gold and yellow blooms.

Trees and shrubs help to give the fall garden additional shape, texture, and color. Once flowering bulbs and other plants begin to fade, the intense shades of leaf color, which range from yellow and orange to red and purple, create a stunning display. Japanese maples and witch hazels are commonly seen in fall gardens and provide brilliant fall foliage. Many varieties of roses also offer colorful fall foliage. Leaf color is further enhanced when placed among a background of evergreens. When choosing trees and shrubs, you should consider the characteristics from their bark as well. Those that peel or provide unusual color can be quite appealing in a fall garden.

Ornamental grasses reach their peak during fall and can also add texture, volume, and color to the garden. Many of these develop seed heads after flowers have faded, and their foliage will turn golden-brown. Berries also ripen in the fall and supply additional color and interest with shades of red, purple, and yellow. There are many groundcovers that produce berries and have colorful leaves as well. Some of the evergreen varieties make attractive additions too. Ornamental plants can complement other fall-blooming plants as well. Ornamental kales range in color from white to red with green to purple foliage. Ornamental peppers produce bright red fruits that cover the plant and create a unique presence in the fall garden. Other important features to consider in a fall garden include statues, ponds, stones, arbors, etc. These can further intensify the area by providing additional height and focal interest.

For intense color in your fall garden, consider using red and lavender colored plants. These could include red wax begonias, viburnum berries, red mums mixed with lavender asters and mistflowers. For those who prefer a subtler look, choose gold and lavender instead. Use yellow or bronze colored mums, pompous grass, and goldenrod mixed with lavender asters or purple coneflowers.

Creating a fall flower garden can extend seasonal interest beyond the spring and summer months; and many plants in these gardens will continue to thrive each year as well.

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