By Kate Karam, Monrovia Photos courtesy of Monrovia
As summer’s bright direct light fades to autumn’s golden, slanting rays, the saturated jewel-box colors-- persimmon, auburn and russet--of fall foliage and the textures and silhouette of airy stems of grasses take center-stage. Conifers, those stalwart verdant anchors for borders and foundations, refreshed by chillier temps, morph into deeper greens or yellows, sometimes tipped with touches of purple. And the last precious flowers of the season are spot lit against fall’s brilliant blue skies.
If your garden looks nothing like this as August rolls into September, it’s time to plant.
Seek out focal points that could use a shot of seasonal interest. Doorways, of course, but also at the far end of the yard where a seductive clump of color invites a late afternoon stroll, snuggled up against a stone wall or foundation, or on axis to a window where you can watch birds devouring fall berries. The dying of the light has never looked more beautiful.
Here are eight not-so-known autumn stunners to consider.
Bright Fantasy™ snowberry
Clusters of white berries gleam in fall and become really showy on otherwise bare stems in winter; an excellent late season food source for many species. Combine with serviceberry, witch hazel, American cranberrybush, holly or cotoneaster. Cut, fruiting stems last two weeks in floral arrangements. (Zones 3-7)
Chief Joseph Lodgepole pine
Pinus contorta var. latifolia 'Chief Joseph'
A distinctive and rare dwarf evergreen conifer discovered in Oregon, prized for its stunning winter color. Deep green spring and summer needles mature to yellow-green in late summer, and by early winter the foliage turns brilliant gold. Superb evergreen accent specimen or low foundation plant. (Zones 7-9)
Snow Queen Oakleaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snow Queen'
This cultivar produces 8-inch-long, showy, creamy-white conical flower heads from early summer but fall is when she really takes off. The foliage produces outstanding fall color and the flowers take on purplish-pink hues when dried; tan-brown exfoliating bark is attractive in winter. (Zone 5-9)
Concorde Japanese barberry
Berberis thunbergii 'Concorde'
Yes, you know barberry but betting you haven’t planted this one yet. A petite purple-leaf barberry with deep maroon-purple foliage that becomes even more intense during fall. This variety produces little to no viable seed, making it a great alternative over other barberries. Perfect size for edging as a small hedge or for containers. (Zones 4-8)
Andrea Atkinson Japanese anemone
Anemone x hybrida 'Andrea Atkinson'
If you have a shady, woodland spot that needs a bit of brightening up this time of year, Japanese anemones are a superb option. We love this one’s semi-double white flowers with chartreuse centers atop tall stems above the lush deep green maple-shaped leaves. Blooms late summer into fall. (Zones 4-8)
Black Negligee Snakeroot Actaea simplex 'Black Negligee'
As if the deeply-cut, serrated foliage that emerges emerald green, maturing to a brilliant dark purple weren’t enough, this one celebrates fall with blooms of towering creamy-white, slender, fragrant bottlebrush flowers. A standout selection in a shaded border, woodland or cottage garden. (Zones 3-9)
Icee Blue® Juniper
Juniperus horizontalis 'Monber'
In dusk’s subdued light, this blue juniper glows with the best winter color of the groundcover junipers. Its silver blue color amps up the effect of nearby reds and oranges. Maintains a full, dense crown of foliage creating a solid cover in a short time. Winter foliage becomes plum purple in coldest climates. (Zone 3-9)
Sweet Autumn clematis
This native of Japan sprawls in an unmannerly fashion over whatever support you provide. In late summer to early fall, it explodes in a billowy white mass of quarter sized white blooms. While the plant loves a sun to part shade location, the roots do best if shaded by a low growing groundcover or a blanket of leaves or wood chips. (Zones 4-9)
Plant in odd numbers of 3, 5, 7
Mix spikes, spires, mopheads, plumes and blooms
Steal inspiration from still-life paintings of Old Masters, blending colors into a rich tapestry
Flowers and foliage fade; layer in conifers and shrubs with interesting bark
Founded in 1926, Monrovia is the U.S’s leading grower of premium container-grown perennials with more than 3,600 varieties, including more than 250 exclusives. Monrovia’s four environmentally responsible nurseries are located in Visalia, CA, Dayton, OR, Cairo, GA, and Granby, CT. Monrovia plants can be purchased in-store or online with delivery to independent garden centers or at Lowes nationwide.
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