Fall Flowers are Blooming

The cool weather this week has me looking forward to all the things about fall I love: changing leaf colors (which will be especially exciting this fall because my youngest daughter has decided her favorite color is orange, and we’ll be on a constant search for bright orange leaves) fall-blooming flowers, and open windows in the house.

In my garden, the palette of flower colors is slowly changing from pinks and blues to yellows, oranges, and purples.  Along the back perennial border, Mexican bush sage is beginning to bloom in purple spires, and the buds of goldenrod are about to break into yellow plumes of color.  Contrary to popular belief, goldenrod does not aggravate allergic people; ragweed, which blooms at about the same time, causes sniffles.  

Outside the vegetable garden, bright orange tithonia is taller than I am.  Along with the goldenrod, red dahlia, and red pineapple sage, the warm colors contrast well with the cool purple of the butterfly bush.  Russian sage, or Perovskia atriplicifolia, gives more purple color.  The orange berries from my Pyracantha shrub give a spot of bright orange that will last through the winter.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' with guineas in the background
Sedum, a nondescript succulent green perennial for most of the year, is blooming and attracting beneficial insects.  ‘Autumn Joy’ is in bloom with russet orange flowers, and a shorter sedum blooms in pink.  The dried blooms will give the garden structure and interest through the winter.  Anemones, like ‘Robutissima’ and ‘Honorine Johbert’ provide touches of pink, purple, and white, as do asters. 

Anemone 'Honore Jobert'

A few months back, I cut back my chrysanthemums to encourage them to bloom during the proper “mum blooming” time, fall.  I planted mine in the garden like any other perennial, and the poor things do not realize that humans have decided that mums should only bloom in the fall.  They prefer to bloom in the summer.  They form buds in late June, and to prevent the early blossoms, I give them all a haircut to within a couple of inches of the ground with some hedge trimmers.  They have time to grow back so they will bloom in the fall.

Pyracantha with orange berries contrasts well with the purple Mexican Sage

I have no idea why this iris is blooming now, but I do enjoy it

If you want to buy some fall-blooming perennials, garden centers should have them now, or your gardening friends will be happy to share theirs.  Plant them now and keep them well watered and you should have fall flowers in the garden before frost.  If you buy chrysanthemums, consider buying some in 4-inch or smaller pots instead of just the large, showy ones, and plant them in the perennial border.  They will bloom this fall, and if you give them a haircut when the buds form in the early summer, they will bloom again next fall.  Perennials can look ragged during the winter after the foliage has died, so, on a pleasant winter day, go through your beds and cut to the ground any brown sticks and foliage.