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Monday, August 17, 2009

Late Season Perennial Choices

At this time of year, many of the showy perennials start to lose their oomph. Our borders begin to show the early signs of a tired garden. Now is a perfect time to evaluate your plant mix. Is there enough late-season interest to carry over into the late summer/early fall season? If not, here are a few tried and true perennials to keep in mind.

A favorite of Greg’s that most consider a weed is a stunning variety of golden rod – Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’. It grows 4 to 5’ with showy yellow flower spikes that resemble the appearance of fireworks trailing through the sky. It’s a tough, drought-tolerant addition plus a great butterfly magnet. It compliments a purple Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidi), which also attracts butterflies.

Another candidate to consider is ‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.) It has great foliage and texture during the summer months but its late season bloom transitions from a red-coral to burgundy. We don’t cut the seed heads back in the fall. We let them stay all winter to add interest in the snow.

A final recommendation to contemplate is the number of native and improved varieties of asters that bloom now until late into the season. Heights vary from six inches to six feet. A few to choose from: Frikart’s Aster (Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’) the Smoother Aster (A. laevis ‘Blue Bird’), Purple Dome (A. novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’) and Stiff-leaved Aster (A. linariifolius). A little tidbit for the avid fisherman or woman/gardener: when the New England Asters bloom in the fall along the roadside, it indicates the beginning of the trout spawning season.

As Stanley Horowitz reminds us, “winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” Take a walk around your garden and notice the beginning hues of the fall season. Now is the ideal time to add more color to your mosaic.

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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)