Plants - Perennials

Paint your garden with colourful, fall-blooming perennials


From chrysanthemums to colchicums, maintain a vibrant garden that will last until winter

colour-coneflowers.jpgColourful coneflowers
Coneflowers were essential to Dutch designer Piet Oudolf's naturalistic planting palette, when he pioneered his new wave garden style. These rough-and-tumble natives of central and eastern North America are long-lived, relatively pest-free, low maintenance and tough as nails, and are stalwarts of the midsummer to early-fall border.

Over the last ten years, there's been an explosion in the development of new cultivars. For example, ‘Art's Pride', which is being marketed under the trademarked name Orange Meadowbrite, is the first orange coneflower. Advances in fragrance have resulted in several new scented coneflowers, including ‘Ruby Giant', which has a smell reminiscent of alyssum combined with honeysuckle. Check out the seven best new coneflowers.

colour-leaves-of-gold.jpgLeaves of gold
Explore the design possibilities of vibrant fall foliage in the garden
Autumn colour change is nature’s way of preparing plants for winter. As temperatures cool and daylight decreases, trees and shrubs adapt by ceasing to manufacture food through photosynthesis. Thus chlorophyll, the green leaf pigment used to capture sunlight, is no longer needed and breaks down, exposing underlying pigments such as the carotenoids, which result in the brilliant yellow and gold hues of trees such as paper birch and maidenhair. (Another pigment group, called the anthocyanins, produce the reds and oranges of maples and burning bush.)

Gold and yellow fall leaves offer a fleeting but spectacular display, especially when combined with other perennials, shrubs and trees that turn orange or red. Here are some excellent plants with which to dust your garden in autumn gold.

colour-rosy-hued-asters.jpgRosy-hued autumn asters
With mounds of small, daisy-like flowers, New England and New York asters, as well as woodland and alpine types, burst into bloom when little else is left, extending the fall colour parade by six weeks or more.

There are many different forms of these plants. The petite 20-centimetre alpine asters, such as ‘Pinkie’, are ideal for the front of the border, while the 60- to 90-centimetre varieties (see the next page) look attractive in front of ornamental grasses. The 1.25-metre giant asters, such as ‘Harrington’s Pink’, make a wonderful backdrop for many shorter perennials, including catmint (Nepeta) and pincushion flower (Scabiosa). All make great cut flowers and are magnets for bees and butterflies.

Aster is Greek for “star.” And whether you trim these plants or let them grow naturally, these cheery flowers are truly stars of the fall garden. We asked horticulturist, landscape designer Judith Adam for tips on how to make the most of these colourful perennials in the fall garden.

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