By Amanda Strack, Conservation Garden Park
Shortly after the first frosts of fall, the leaves start changing color and most plants begin retiring for the year. However, a select few plants are just beginning their colorful exhibition, guiding us from fall into winter. These belated visions of beauty can extend the lushness of summer a bit laonger and create a landscape that has year-round interest.
Single Apricot Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum ‘Single Apricot’) – This mounded perennial has apricot-hued, daisy-like flowers that bloom from October to November. It adds wonderful surges of light and color to the landscape with its delicate floral arrangements. It is striking next to the dark leaves of a Barberry and is a great infill plant throughout the landscape.
Lemon Yellow Maximillian Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani ‘Lemon Yellow’) –This giant perennial gets up to ten feet tall. Growing throughout the season, it bursts alive in September and blooms through October. It is a perfect plant to have growing against a foundation or along the perimeter of the landscape, acting as the backbone to shorter perennials.
Loke Viking Aster (Aster x ‘Loke Viking’) – The vibrant fuchsia of these blossoms is outstanding! These blooms will brighten any area in the landscape with their daisy-like flowers that bloom August through October. This perennial loves full sun and its globular habit doesn’t exceed a foot in height, which makes it great for small spaces.
West Texas Grass Sage (Salvia reptans) – This tall perennial can grow up to 3 feet tall and doesn’t begin blooming until late summer and lasts throughout fall. The tiny cobalt flowers that cover this plant attract hummingbirds and provide food for them late in the season when other food sources have already disappeared.
Ravenna Grass (Saccharum ravennae) – Grasses aren’t always recognized for their blooms, but this gem should be. Ravenna grass takes the entire season to reach its full height and to produce a gorgeous seed head that towers over the rest of the garden during the fall months. It is known as a hardy pampas grass and will create a striking presence in any landscape. It seeds readily, so if you don’t want more than one, be sure to pick the unwanted plants out of the area.
Late-blooming perennials are essential for every landscape. Not only do they provide a food source for late foraging fauna, but they also illuminate parts of the landscape that would be otherwise bleak.
Looking for even more belated blooms? Consider also: Sundancer Daisy, Coral Canyon Twinspur (the combination of Sundancer Daisy and Coral Canyon are spectacular!), Wild Thing Sage, April Night Sage, and Plumbago. In addition to the cobalt blue blooms, the foliage of the groundcover Plumbago turns a reddish orange this time of year, adding another wonderful attribute to the garden.
All of these plants and more are still in bloom at the Conservation Garden Park. Stop in to see these beauties in person, but be advised that our winter hours began on November 1st. We are now open from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. http://conservationgardenpark.org.