Sunday, October 1, 2023

This Month in the Garden: Autumn Interest

Welcome to This Month in the Garden! Autumn has arrived and the landscape is transiting into an array of color with each passing day. Starting with subtle hints, the garden becomes more of a work of art with color everywhere as the days grow shorter. In the words of Albert Camus, "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." I couldn't agree more as the garden always keeps me anticipating the next wonder. Here are a few selections to incorporate into the landscape for interest during the fall season.
Coral Bark Maple 'Sangu Kaku' Autumn Color
The first, Coral Bark Maple, provides striking color in autumn, which is difficult to beat. As the temperatures cool, light green foliage turns to yellow then orange before the leaves drop. Afterwards, the newer growth of branches glows a bright coral-red in winter. Coral Bark Maple grows to a height and width of 20 feet tall by 15 feet wide and prefers full sun to partial shade.
Dwarf Maiden Grass 'Yaku Jima' 
Next is Miscanthus 'Yaku Jima', a dwarf variety of Maiden Grass that maintains a more compact, upright habit, which is perfect for smaller spaces. Displaying attractive fall plumes, this variety grows to a height and width of 3-4 foot tall by wide and is hardy in USDA zones 5-9. A similar variety is Miscanthus 'Adagio'. Note: The clumping nature and more compact size of these varieties make them less likely to be invasive.  It is best to leave grasses in winter to protect the roots from cold and to cut back in early spring just before new growth appears.
Montauk Daisy October
Next, and hardy in USDA zones 5-9, the white blooms and yellow centers of Montauk Daisy welcome fall. Montauk Daisy grows to a mature height and width of 2-3 feet and prefers full sun and a well-drained soil. Maintenance Tip: To promote fullness and to keep the plant more compact, it is recommended to prune back foliage tips in June.
Callicarpa (American Beautyberry) Autumn
Known for its beautiful purple berries that cover the plant in fall, Callicarpa, also known as Beauty Bush or American Beautyberry, provides a food source for birds and deer. American Beautyberry is hardy in USDA zones 7-11 and grows 3-5 feet tall by wide. Grow in full sun to partial shade.
Nellie Stevens Holly Berries Autumn
For attractive deep green glossy leaves and bright red berries in autumn, Nellie Stevens Holly (Ilex Nellie Stevens) is a large growing broad-leaved evergreen, which reaches 15-20 feet tall by 8-15 feet wide. Note: While the berries are attractive to the eye, they are edible for birds, but not humans or pets. Nellie Stevens Holly is hardy in USDA zones 6-9 and prefers a location with full sun to partial shade and a well-drained soil.
Japanese Kousa Dogwood Fruit Autumn
Japanese Kousa Dogwood is a beautiful small specimen tree for smaller spaces, displaying lovely white blooms in springtime-early summer, followed by bright red edible fruit in the fall, which can be made into jelly. Hardy in USDA zones 5-8, Kousa Dogwood reaches a height and width of 15-25 feet and prefers a location with full sun to partial shade. Maintenance Tip: Prune after bloom to maintain a more compact shape.
Echinacea (Coneflower) Seed Heads
A familiar sight in fall are the seed heads of perennials. Echinacea displays colorful blooms late summer into fall and provides an important food source for birds once it goes to seed. The seed heads also add interest to the fall landscape.
 Sedum 'Brilliant'
This more dwarf version of Sedum does not flop over like the taller varieties. The flowers also provide late season attraction for pollinators. Sedum is known to grow in zones 3-11 and prefers full sun, but will also grow in some shade. A nice combination for autumn is that of Dwarf Maiden Grass and Sedum 'Brilliant'.
Variegated Liriope (Lilyturf)
Known for its brilliant purple blooms in fall is Liriope. Hardy in USDA zones 4-10. Liriope grows best in partial shade or full sun with afternoon shade and reaches a height and width of 10-18 inches. Maintenance Tip: For best results, allow the foliage to remain during winter and prune back in early spring.
Lamb's Ear (Stachys)
For all season interest, Lamb's Ear displays soft grayish-white foliage that serves nicely along a perennial border. Hardy in USDA zone 4-8, Stachys (Lamb's Ear) grows to 6-8 inches tall, prefers full sun and a well-drained soil. The foliage can last into winter as the plant can tolerate temperatures below freezing. Spikes of pink blooms rise above the foliage in mid-late summer.
Hydrangea 'Tardivia'
For blooms later in the season, Hydrangea 'Tardivia' (hardy in USDA zone 3-8) produces massive fragrant panicle blooms in late summer which last in to fall. This 8-10 foot tree-sized shrub prefers an area of full sun to partial shade, as in an eastern exposure. 
Hydrangea 'Limelight Prime'
Another variety of late blooming hydrangea is 'Limelight Prime'. Hydrangea 'Limelight Prime' produces stunning greenish-white blooms that turn to pure white and then to a pinkish hue as they age in fall. This variety stays smaller than 'Limelight', growing to a maximum of 4-6 feet high by wide and is hardy in USDA zone 3-8.
St. John's Wort Berries 
Displaying interesting fruit after yellow blooms is St. John's Wort. Hardy in USDA zones 4-9, St. John's Wort grows 2-3 feet tall by wide, prefers full sun to partial shade and is known for its medicinal qualities. This plant provides several seasons of interest.
'Summer Snowflake' Viburnum Blooms in Autumn
Just when you think its blooms are done for the season, 'Summer Snowflake' Viburnum will shoot out a last round of interest. Hardy in USDA zones 5-8, 'Summer Snowflake' Viburnum reaches 5-6 feet high by wide, and prefers full sun to partial shade. The blooms resemble snowflakes, hence the name.
Monarch Butterfly Enjoying Fall Blooms
Autumn is also a time for Chrysanthemum and Dwarf Butterfly Bush blooms...
North Fork Sunflower Maze Autumn-Long Island
and of course sunflowers, as they bloom against the deep blue sky.
Thank You for Visiting!

I hope you enjoyed This Month in the Garden for the month of October. Be sure to stop by on the 1st. and 15th. of each month as I continue to share gardening tips, information and horticultural adventures! 

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  1. The colour of that Callicarpa is stunning!

  2. Lee, your garden looks beautiful in the fall. I liked Coral Bark Maple - its leaves stand out from other plants.
    New to me, Montauk Daisy October and Japanese Kousa Dogwood Fruit are very beautiful, I have not seen them before.
    I also love plants in their autumn decorations.


Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!