Here in Central Iowa the fall color is at its peak. It seams later than usual to me, but maybe it’s because of all the dry weather. When we usually think of fall color we think of all the trees and shrubs.
I hope this post convinces you that fall color is not just limited to trees and shrubs and to think about things closer to the ground, like perennials when planning your fall displays. There are actually more perennials than you might think that give us one last season of show. Some of my favorites include Willow Amsonia, Hardy Geranium, Bergenia, Sedum, Prairie Smoke, and Ornamental Grasses.
At first glance, these pink flowers of October Daphne Sedum are all you see, but if you look closely the foliage has some great fall color too. When planted out in the garden this one is putting on a great show in October, much later than most Sedums are blooming. (Sorry this pic is of some in pots!)
One of my favorite selling points of perennial geranium is the fall color, and this variety does not disappoint! Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Karmina’ is one of the best I’ve seen, but I’ll also include pictures of Geranium c. ‘Biokovo’ and Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’.
One plant I’m always surprised to see fall color on is Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum). It is a perennial that starts the spring for us with it’s smoky flowers, and is now helping close out the season with a show in fall too.
Gooseneck Loosestrife is a plant that I haven’t had the heart to sell because you need to plant it with caution and be diligent about keeping it under control, but this fall color is outstanding!
Ornamental Grasses are popular for late summer, fall and then even winter interest. I love to pair them with other plants that help accent each of their textures. Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans) in the background of these red winterberries is amazing!
One of my favorite Miscanthus grasses is Nippon. From start to finish throughout the year it is a winner. It is also one of the fastest clumpers I’ve planted, meaning it doesn’t take that many seasons to have a good size clump and show. I even noticed this week the individual blades are getting some amazing fall color.
I can’t finish out this post without a few things that are blooming right now. The temperatures have cooperated for these late blooms with only a few nights below freezing so far this fall. The colors with the cool nights are amazing, so anything that blooms this late is bound to be vibrant.
Some of my favorite fall combinations are grasses, seedheads of flowers (Coneflowers in this case) and something still blooming. I feel like I’ve accomplished my goal of having something “happening” in the garden at all times when these textures in combination make up the big picture. The white fluffy seedheads of Flame Grass (Miscanthus purpurascens), the vertical yellow blades of the switchgrass, the arching yellow flowers of the Goldenrod ‘Fireworks’ and the globular brown coneflower seedheads all together just have so much texture in this “Like Native” bed I have. As a bonus, there are still some Helenium blooming in the foreground! And if you think this looks good now, wait till we have out first snowfall- the seedheads and varying textures of all these plants look great all winter long!
But winter interest is another post all together, so I better get out and enjoy this beautiful fall day!
Tomorrow is the last outdoor market of the season. We still have a few pumpkins, sweet potatoes and tomatoes for sale. And of course our Farm Fresh Eggs and the last of the spring bulbs. Tulips are Buy One, Get One FREE!! Hope to see you at the North Grand Farmer’s Market tomorrow from 8am-1pm, just north of JCPenney’s at North Grand Mall, Ames.