For some people fall is their favorite season of the year when the full heat of summer is past yet there is still plenty of interest in the garden. By careful planning it is perfectly possible to have flowers in bloom until the first frosts in November. These five design tips come from an article by Benjamin Vogt which I found on the Houzz website.
I don’t know about you, but I live for fall — with its cool mornings, crisp air and quiet evenings. Plus, at least one-third of my plants bloom after August, and the trees, shrubs, grasses and perennial flowers bring a rainbow of colors to the garden until early November, long after summer flowers have faded.
There’s always so much going on in a fall garden, from changing colors and plants’ going dormant to wildlife’s preparing for winter. Here are some design strategies you can use to create beauty and function for humans and animals this fall, and every year after.
Aromatic aster and ‘Purple Dome’ New England aster attract masses of butterflies.
1. Plant late-summer and fall bloomers to support pollinators. Lots of insects are at their highest population numbers in fall, and many have just emerged to complete their life cycle, migrate or even hibernate. When designing a fall garden to support pollinators, your first goal is to get the flowers pollinators thrive on. You can’t go wrong with asters and goldenrods, two fall staples visited by pollinators, as well as sunflowers.
Consider how these plants reproduce and spread before planting them in your garden. For example, Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) has a tendency to spread and take over in the home landscape, but there are many other more well-behaved goldenrod species. Asters tend to spread by seed, especially in open spots in garden beds, so create thicker plantings where seedlings will have a harder time sprouting, if that is something you are concerned about. While plants started this year won’t bloom this fall, now is the perfect time to put them in the ground for next year.
Groups of flowers are appealing to both humans and pollinators, with massing making the flowers easier for pollinators flying above to see.
2. Cluster plants in groups of three or five. Repeating plants throughout the landscape also lends a subtle cohesiveness for the eye to follow. Aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) is a neat little shrub-like perennial native to the East Coast that looks nice dotted throughout beds and borders. For more vertical interest and early-fall blooms that are dark purple to magenta, try ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata). For a lower-growing plant that does well in wetter conditions, look to blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum).