Autumn gardening is challenging, but it’s also rewarding. It takes a little planning, but gardens can and do survive well into late fall, and with the right plants it can hold its appeal through winter.
Begin when you plan the garden. Make its bones strong. Once summer blooms fade, the shape of deciduous trees and both the form and foliage of evergreen plantings become the focal point, so it’s crucial to choose plants with good shape. There are many hardy species with good structure–rhododendrons, maple, beech, willow, yew, holly, juniper and pine. Some deciduous cultivars display amazing colour in the fall, and their vibrant foliage acts as a backdrop to your display of late-blooming annuals. Adding just one specimen with fall colour, such as a maple, brings attention to your garden.
Many perennials bloom during late August and into September and extend the life of a garden. Some perennial mums bloom well into fall, and plants grow in size and bloom capability every year. Tawny coloured ornamental grasses with attractice tufts of bloom are at their best in fall. Sedums, asters and monkshood are also reliable autumn favourites and many roses hang on till late frost, offering smaller blooms but a welcome spot of colour.
The old-fashioned annual snapdragon also survives cold weather well, blooming heroically until a really hard frost fells it. Kale and ornamental cabbages don’t have flowers, but their leaves are decorative.
Pansies are usually considered a spring flower, but the ‘Icicle’ series is well suited to cooler fall temperatures and adds spice to the garden in a dreary season. Many survive through winter and burst forth with renewed vigour the following spring. Plant some among a ground cover of evergreen ivy and you have a wonderful fall tableau.