Unexpected Fall Color

By Shaun Moser, Conservation Garden Park

After a busy growing season at Conservation Garden Park our staff loves to see the garden change into its full fall colors. One of the parts that I love best about fall are the flowers that bloom after everything else is done blooming. I especially like the late bloomers that are still going strong into early November. Some have been blooming for the entire growing season and some started just a couple of weeks ago.

Here are some of our favorite late-blooming perennial flowers:

  • Sundancer Daisy- Tetraneuris acaulis

This is one of the best plants for the Intermountain West. It has an exceptionally long bloom time that spans April-October. At the Garden we have some in an area that gets reflective heat, so it stays warm longer, allowing it to bloom almost the entire year. Sundancer daisy is a small plant that forms clumps of grass-like foliage at the base with little yellow flowers that hover above, dancing in the wind.

  • Santa Fe Maximilian Sunflower- Helianthus maximiliani ‘Santa Fe’

This towering perennial acts as a grand finale for the garden. It spends most of the year growing slender gray-green stalks that eventually reach 6-8 feet tall. In October this plant is flooded with beautiful golden yellow flowers. This plant is a great focal point in any garden!

  • Saffron Fall Crocus- Crocus sativus

Most people use crocus as part of their spring bulb display but overlook Saffron Fall Blooming Crocus. This type looks just like the spring bloomer but we get to enjoy it in the fall. It’s a small plant, but when planted in a large group it can make a big impact.

  • Autumn Joy Stonecrop- Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’ AUTUMN JOY

The name says it all with this succulent. It is a clump-forming perennial that has waxy green leaves on unbranched stems. In fall it bears flat, star-shaped pink flowers that turn red over time. It’s best when planted in groups of three or more.

  • Plumbago- Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

This is a woody perennial ground cover reaching a max height of 18 inches. In July, it blooms in small 5-petaled blue flowers. What makes this such a great plant for fall is the red color the leaves turn in contrast with the blue flowers.

  • Single Apricot Chrysanthemum- Chrysanthemum ‘Single Apricot’

This is a new favorite of garden staff. It is a compact, mounded perennial with apricot-colored flowers. It starts to bloom in late September and is at its best just before frost.

  • Chocolate Flower- Berlandiera lyrata

The smell of chocolate will fill your garden with this beautiful waterwise perennial flower. This plant features abundant, small yellow flowers that fill the air with the smell of chocolate. It also has a long bloom time, flowering until frost.

  • Hummingbird Mint- Agastache

There are several different types of Agastache that you can have in your garden, but all of them start blooming in summer and continue into fall. They all have tubular, mint-scented flowers that come in a range of colors.

If you haven’t been to the Garden in fall, make the trip. It’s worth it to see in person these little-known late bloomers.