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Some Little-Known Plants for Fall Gardens

10 years ago

Thanks to ChrisMD on the MidAtlantic Gardening forum for saving this great thread mentioning a range of lesser-known plants for fall color.

* Posted by david_5311 Z 5b/6a SE Mich on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 8:39

I love fall in the garden, the asters, grasses, goldenrods, boltonias, anemones...all at peak. But along with all these common fall plants there are a couple of treasures, "unsung heroes" that more people should grow.

The first is Caryopteris divaricata. Though related to the common shrubby caryopteris, this is a true herbaceous plant. It looks like a large salvia, maing a 4' mass of foliage all season which stands up straight and holds its place in the garden. Then in the fall, it makes a cloud of these way-cool orchid like flowers. The boss of stamens at the top makes an arch over the flowers, which are much showier than the standard shrubby caryopteris, at least individually. The plant needs to be planted where you can enjoy the flowers up close.

The second plant I just love and rarely see is Chelone lyonii 'Hot Lips'. The turtleheads are all wonderful garden plants, they possess a great quiet beauty and toughness. I also grow C. obliqua which is very nice. But 'Hot lips' has such great foliage, almost a blackish green. Even in this hot dry year, the plant has the presence of a fine shrub throughout the garden season with its pristine dark foliage. And it has been blooming for weeks now.

So do you have an "unsung hero" for the fall garden?

* Posted by: tewk21 z6 NJ on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 9:21

At this time of year I really relish my cimifuga stand. I have a couple of varieties in a bunch and the profusion of bottlebrushes above the dense black green foliage is striking.

* Posted by: gardenbug Canada zone 5 on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 9:52

I am enjoying cimicifugas, anemones (white, pink and bright pink), keringeshoma palmata, many grasses, ferns, cyclamen, "naked ladies" also known as colchicums, gaura in pink and white, pink turtlehead, hydrangea Kiushu and that wonderful dark purple ironweed (vernonia). The berries on the Jack in the Pulpits are amazing this year. I am not happy with my weeping caryopteris and need to check out yours David. I wonder if it is hardy up here in USDA 4? Do you have a picture?

* Posted by: Marieluise Zone 4-4b on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 10:27

I have both Caryopteris Longwood Blue and one other (can't think of name now but has lime green leaves) and they are both blooming. The best ever this year. My Russian Sage has been going strong and so have my two butterfly bushes.

My Kirengsoma unforunately although it has lots of blooms, they are turning brown and falling off. The drought I guess and we did not water very much this year. Pink turtlehead, guara, plumbago and the cone flowers. Plus Chocolate Boneset has flower heads and my Sweet Autumn Clematis might bloom before Christmas!

* Posted by: NancyD 5/6 Rochester, NY on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 10:49

Thanks for sharing. I'm always looking for more fall plants. I have the chelone, but never heard of that caryopteris variety. The one I recommend is not a perennial, but a lovely shrub called Lespedeza or common name, bush clover. Abundant, small pea-like flowers in shades of white, pink or purple. Much needed this time of year. If you have the space I highly recommend it. Not extremely cold tolerant, but does fine for me.

* Posted by: Dicentra SE PA z6B on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 11:09

I absolutely LOVE my caryopteris sub-shrubs! I have the 'Blue Mist' variety and they get better with each passing year. My panicum grass 'Dalla Blues' is starting to send out plumes and it's quite striking with the blue-tinted blades. Gaura is a newbie one for me and I love the pinkish 'butterflies' which seem to float right at the stem tips. My yellow butterfly bushes ususally bloom well into November here...I don't think I could garden without And a plug for trees...Kousa Dogwood is splended with those long-lasting flowers and now red fruits...very appealing (although messy).

* Posted by: Teri2 6/7 TN on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 11:35

I thought Lespedeza was considered invasive via seed dispersion. Correct me if I'm wrong; that's just lodged in my memory somehow.

My unsung fall hero is the annual vine, Cardiospermum (Love in a Puff). Mine is just now covering itself with teeny, tiny white flowers which will morph into large, papery, tan puffs. I have mine on a trellis against the wall but I've also had fun with volunteers climbing over shrubs that would otherwise be boring by this time.

* Posted by: wanda Z9 CA on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 11:46

My garden is full of Salvias going into bloom this time of year. Lots of blue , purple, red and some yellow & white. Thunbergia greggori is also putting on a show. The Anemones are starting to open. A real show stopper is the Ruellia brittonia which is going gangbusters with non-stop purple flowers. I also have a new to me plant that I got this spring, Spiranthes, which is starting to open. Trachelium is another neat fall bloomer and Aster frikartii.

* Posted by: yogagal 5-Northern IL on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 11:52

The native woodland aster, Aster divaricatus, is totally underused in the fall shade garden. It spreads slowly as a groundcover, the leaves always look clean and are never ratty, and in the fall it's covered with a ton of white flowers on dark, wirey, stems about 12" above the foliage. Good mix with ferns or heuchera.

* Posted by: maine_gardener Z4 Me on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 13:01

I have to add one more for the fall it does prefer partly shade . Toad Lilys. Mine are just starting to open.

* Posted by: gardenbug Canada zone 5 on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 13:13

The turtleheads are so neat and not bothered a bit by insects. I also love verbena bonariensis at this time with the grasses and Russian Sage too. A few clematis are still adding color to the garden as well.

* Posted by: Kevin_5 z5 on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 13:30

I have Phlox 'David' in full fragrant bloom now--not sure if that is its normal bloom time or if planting small plants in spring caused it to be delayed. Either way, a nice plant. I second Kirengeshoma, just opening here. Not to forget trees, as Franklinia and Heptacodium are blooming like mad with superior fragrance.

* Posted by: buxusareyou z6 NC on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 16:11

Hey David,

How 'bout the pungent scent of the foliage of Caryopteris divaricata? Brush against it and, phew... what is it remniscent of? A real conversation piece! Lovely species.

* Posted by: Taba z5b MO on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 16:15

Great thread. Lots of good ideas. I'm so tired of mums and asters at all the garden centers.

I love fall-blooming bulbs - not sure how little-known they are. Last year I planted an assortment of fall-blooming crocus and colchium and they were gorgeous. Some very late blooms. They aren't up yet here but I saw lots of them yesterday at a local public garden. Not sure if I should be concerned about mine or not! Time will tell.

* Posted by: Chelone z6 so. Maine on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 16:43

Hear, hear! for Chelone. Don't miss out on Chelone obliqua and Chelone glabra. I prefer both to the more commonly available lyonii. This is a plant that has rather "gone out of favor" over the years as showier plants have arrived on the scene. It is wonderful in combination with Dicentra spectabilis, Hostas, FERNS, and (I'm told) Aconitums. I have no disease troubles and only an occasional nibble on its leaves. Chelone glabra is a native wildflower in my region of the country and it is truly breathtaking at nearly 4'H in a moist area!

I adore Cimicifugas, Kirengeshoma palmata, and Dictamnus. Another overlooked plant is Hibiscus. OUTSTANDING!

* Posted by: blazingstar z8GA on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 19:29

Your Caryopteris looks alot like my Blue Butterflies (Clerodenrum ugandese). I think like Barry Glick, that somebody must have missnamed it. My bush has square stems, the leaves are bigger than yours though, but I just went out and crushed a leaf, and it stinks too.

I bought it this spring and it has been blooming ever since, no signs of it letting up either. As far as I have been told, it will come back from the roots here in zone 8. Bumblebees go crazy over it, but they have to climb over the flower to the back somehow, to get the nectar. They might be the only ones that can get to it.

Very interesting, check it out.

* Posted by: Kevin_5 z5 on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 20:02

The Franklinia has been through one winter, with a low of 18 below. No damage from the winter. It leafed out then got whacked by a 24 degree freeze in late May, which caused tips to die back, but it releafed and is covered in flower buds/flowers. So far, a tough tree!

* Posted by: david_5311 Z 5b/6a SE Mich on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 20:44

Hey blazingstar - you're right!!! the flowers of Caryopteris divaricata do look a LOT like Clereodendrum ugandense. Same exact flower form, I always had the sense that I had seen this one before. It's uncanny, they must be adapted to the same pollinator - a bumblebee hunchback perhaps.

* Posted by: NotEnoughRoses 7b/NTX on Fri, Sep 13, 02 at 22:13

Tagetes lucida (Mexican Mint Marigold) and Compositae Tagetes lemmonii (Copper Canyon Daisy) are my two favorites.

Malvaviscus drummondii (Turk's Cap) blooms straight through from summer til first frost.

Salvia greggii (another that blooms all season to the first frost)
Reblooming irises...

Cassia lindheimeri (Velvet leaf senna)
Grasses - Muhlenbergia capillaris and Muhlenbergia filipes (natives) and Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Moudry' (new favorite from last fall - highlight of October garden tour).

Shrubs - Encore azaleas started blooming last week. If this year is anything like last, they will bloom off and on through spring. Camellias...

Roses here are incredible in the fall - almost as good as the spring flush. I grow 100+ roses - mostly antiques - Duchesse de Brabant is one of the best for fall bloom. Also love Belinda's Dream. Not uncommon to have a few roses still going at Christmas time. (Maggie, a 'found' rose, and Anna de Diesbach were both blooming last 12-25.)
~ Suzie

* Posted by: Taryn S Ontario Z6B on Sat, Sep 14, 02 at 0:16

David, what an informative thread. I have a question about your Chelone pic; is the photo true to the actual colour of the plant? I'm asking because it looks awfully much like my pink Chelone, but I wouldn't describe the leaves on mine as blackish green. Deep, deep green, and resistant to almost anything, with regular watering. This plant was here when we bought the home in April of '98, and is now a scrumptious 4'X4' mound, and has been blooming for several weeks now. I have spread it about to a couple of other locations as well. I thought it was C. obliqua, but whatever it is, I adore it!

My newly found favourite fall-blooming perennial is Patrinia scabiosifolia, or 'Golden Lace'. I grew this from seed in the winter of 2001, and am thrilled with the delicate, airy heads of lemon yellow blooms. I will put Verbena bonariensis with it next season, will be a knockout fall combo. Thanks for a great read...

* Posted by: david_5311 Z 5b/6a SE Mich on Sat, Sep 14, 02 at 7:46

The picture of chelone 'Hot lips' is absolutely true to color except the flowers look more washed out in the picture. In 'real life' the flowers are more of a rich rose pink. The foliage IS that rich blackish gray green, even richer than shown in the photo. That's why I say it had a strong presence in the garden through the summer as a foliage plant. A really good garden selection.

* Posted by: Andy_Japan z9 on Sat, Sep 14, 02 at 19:31

A valuable thread. After a long hot summer everyone loves fall and this season has some of the best performers. I also love caryopteris and patrinia and chelone and cimicifuga. Asters and mums of course are better known. (David I lost my Franklinia here in zone 9--it toppled during the fall typhoon season and never recovered.)

The sedums are well known but my absolute favorite is a ground cover, s. pluricaule, which starts blooming for me in early September and will go on for many weeks. It is hardy to zone 3.

* Posted by: penney5 6 on Sat, Sep 14, 02 at 19:48

My favorite plant in fall:

Eupatorium coelestinum aka mistflower(why doesn't everyone grow this?)

What else is blooming right now here(zone5/6)
Rudbeckia triloba
Salvia azurea
Datura innoxia
Malvia moschata
China aster (annual)

And still to flower:

Boltonia asteroides
Toad lilies
Hardy pink chrysanthemum

* Posted by: Geranium Z5/MA on Sat, Sep 14, 02 at 21:52

Ah - someone has finaly mentioned Boltonia. The wispy pink variety has been bloming for several weeks, but the white B. 'Snowbank' is just coming out. I have it planted among ornamental grasses and also at the back of a long border with New England Asters and Sedums. One of the last things to bloom for me is Aster tartaricus, often as late as early November.

For the front of the garden, I love the Alliums - especially A. senescens glaucum (the Curly Chive) and A. thunbergii 'Ozawa', an October bloomer. The former is in full bloom now and will go on for weeks.

* Posted by: gardenbug Canada zone 5 on Sat, Sep 14, 02 at 22:50

I forgot to mention corydalis. I have 'lutea', the longest blooming plant on earth I firmly believe. I also have the lavender flowered form blooming still. Both nice in different areas.

* Posted by: Andy_Japan z9 on Sun, Sep 15, 02 at 4:48

Chelone, I'm glad you mentioned acontium. I was just in the garden today--finally a break in the heat--and noticed my acontiums don't even have buds, that's how late they bloom for me. There are spring-flowering species too, so check first. For you blue lovers, aconitum is outstanding.

* Posted by: david_5311 Z 5b/6a SE Mich on Sun, Sep 15, 02 at 11:21

Well, how 'bout a few more. No one has mentioned cyclamen hederifolium, it is one of the joys of the fall garden, just emerging now.

And leadwort, ceratostigma plumbaginoides, is now coming into full bloom. One of the few plants which actually excels in dry shade, and rose red fall color next month adds to the show

Last for now is perhaps my favorite (well, OK, one of my favorites) plant of fall, the fabulous soft yellow daisy helianthus 'Lemon Queen'. Tough and easily grown, 7' tall in lean soil with no staking, though some of mine do flop down (so you can appreciate the soft color of the flowers. Blooms a solid 6 weeks, now at peak .

* Posted by: Storygardener 5/6 central oh on Sun, Sep 15, 02 at 11:35

These ideas are GREAT. Don't forget eupatorium rogosa chocolate - with it's dark foliage and pretty white flowers!

* Posted by: chouchou z5b ONT on Sun, Sep 15, 02 at 14:38

I'm in love with my agastache rupestris right now. I like everything about this plant; foliage, flowers and scent. My "Pamina" anemone is beautiful too and it is such a well-behaved anemone - stays where I put it. "Alma Potschke" aster is just beginning its very vivid display, in spite of the relentless drought it has had to endure this season.

* Posted by: ChrisMD 7 on Sun, Sep 15, 02 at 15:47

I am very interested in Heleniums. 3 to 6 foot plants topped with clusters of quarter sized flowers in yellows, golds and reds. As with so many other native American plants, it seems that most of the cultivars have been bred in Europe and are not available yet here in the US.

* Posted by: Bejoy PNW8 on Sun, Sep 15, 02 at 16:03

WOW! Great ideas here for fall flowering plants. Never heard of many of them. Guess I will go hunting. I have Coreopsis , Rudbekia, Allium, Roses, Butterfly bushes, Blackberry Lilies, Hardy Aster, Violas and Pansies, Geraniums, Stell D' Oro and some foxglove still blooming. My Kaffir lily is in bud so will be blooming soon too. These are commonly grown ones..but I love their blooms.

* Posted by: david_5311 Z 5b/6a SE Mich on Sun, Sep 15, 02 at 17:12

I'm right there with Chris, I LOVE heleniums too. Mine are just going by now, didn't get any great pics this year, but love the rust/orange ones. I am also with chouchou. My favorite jap anemone is Pamina too, and I love the way Agastache rupestris just finds its own spot. This one just seeded here, it's not 'supposed' to be there, but makes a nice contrast with the tight form of Buxus 'Graham Blandy'

And being a geranium nut, I have to show a geranium which I believe will be a great fall plant (and summer too), that being the new geranium 'Rozanne'. It has the wonderful marbled foliage and long late bloom of 'Buxton's Variety, its parent, without being quite so fussy. The flowers are getting more blue as the weather cools.

* Posted by: Yondertree Oregon coast on Sun, Sep 15, 02 at 21:56

My favorite salvia, S. darcyi, is at its peak now, a cheery tall red that simply clicks all the colors of the garden together around it. It reconciles the Rudbekia and the Penstamon with the Japanese Anemone, amazing. The foliage has a lovely lemony fragrance when you brush against it. It made it through last winter, but I will save a few cuttings this year to be sure to have it again.

* Posted by: gardenbug Canada zone 5 on Sun, Sep 15, 02 at 23:17

Now David, I did mention cyclamen way back at the start. I love them so much...grew them from seed. I agree with all of Chouchou's choices too. My blue lobelias are blooming nicely now also and look nice near the pink turtlehead. The cardinal flowers are also still blooming away in another area.

* Posted by: Taryn S Ontario Z6B on Sun, Sep 15, 02 at 23:25

Yes, Cyclamen hederifolium is wonderful when it's happily placed. Likes my dry shade. I've got 'Cyclamen-leaved Violet' (Viola koreana 'Syletta') going like gangbusters in the greenhouse, which I hope will give me the wonderful silver-embossed foliage for more of the season than the cyclamen does.

* Posted by: Andy_Japan z9 on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 7:20

Taba, I like the fall-blooming bulbs too but if you like a tidy garden, watch out. The foliage from colchicums, for example, stays nice and green all winter, then begins to yellow in spring. And it takes its sweet time too.

Sterbergia is my favorite since the foliage, which is bright green and strappy all winter, disappears without a whole lot of fuss in spring. If you plant them now they will bloom in a couple of weeks.

* Posted by: Eric_OH 6a on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 9:19

Once you get over the inaccurate catalog description, Heteropappus 'Blue Knoll' is an attractive aster-like annual/?perennial (it should have been named 'Pale Lavender Knoll').

I also like Patrinia scabiosifolia, a great late summer and fall perennial which also has some purplish foliage color as the weather cools.

And Panicum 'Dallas Blues' is in full flower here. Hoping for good foliage color later in the season.

* Posted by: david_5311 Z 5b/6a SE Mich on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 9:39

Hey Andy, Sterbergia is lovely! Never heard of it. Do you know anything about hardiness? And how about it getting eaten by mice/voles? I plant lots of crocus in my garden including the autumn forms, but they don't last since I suspect they get eaten. I like colchicums too but I am not a fan of the foliage as you rightly point out. You need to plant them near the front of a border to see them, and the foliage is so ugly in late spring.

* Posted by: Dicentra SE PA z6B on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 10:29

Forgot to mention...Fall Crocus! Found the beauties blooming away now in the garden :)

* Posted by: sbeuerlein on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 11:25

Solidago rugosum "Fireworks" is a really terrific cultivar, just starting its show. Anemone x japonica "Bressingham Glow" is a very nice plant. Callicarpa berries are just turning now too, very nice.

* Posted by: Eric_OH 6a on Fri, Sep 27, 02 at 10:46

One other Caryopteris that should be grown more is C. incana, which has blue and white-flowered varieties. It's rated hardy only to zone 7, but can be raised from seed to flower by early September of the same year. Great fall bloomer, probably would be a knockout planted with Patrinia.

* Posted by: buxusareyou z6 NC on Fri, Sep 27, 02 at 11:06

David - Sternbergia is probably a tad tender (Zone 6 - my guess) for you. But you should give it a go, nevertheless. The late William Hunt who gardened and wrote about gardening for years in Chapel Hill, NC had thousands of these flowering in the fall. It was quite a sight!

* Posted by: spec4lover z7 VA on Fri, Sep 27, 02 at 11:27

For years, ajania was incorrectly classified as a chrysanthemum. I think the leaves are much more interesting, though. It will bloom here in October. A link to blooms is given below.

Today, my cannas are providing a lot of color in the yard, as are the reblooming daylilies and the crape myrtles. The caryopteris are almost finished, sadly, but the buddleia keep on going due to deadheading. Lavenders are in varying stages of bloom in my yard, with the Musteads in full or slightly past full bloom and the Provence and other larger ones still in bud.

Chaste trees can also provide some color at this time of year, if they are cut back after the first bloom. (I had both the blue and white blooming at this time last year, but am saving the seed this year, blooms.)

My hydrangea paniculatas, especially the Tardiva, are providing some color to the yard, too.

And as others have said, the lovely toadlilies or Tricyrtis have yet to bloom--that's another for October.

* Posted by: Teri2 6/7 TN on Fri, Sep 27, 02 at 15:11

David - I never know how many of my spring crocus will return either so I don't plan on any. I just replant every year. Same with Sternbergia in the fall. They're a little pricier so I can't plant too many but I do put a dozen or so in an easily visible spot. For me, they provide the thrill of fresh, new growth at a time when the rest of the garden is beautiful but bittersweet.

* Posted by: Taba z5b MO on Fri, Sep 27, 02 at 16:10

My Colchicum Rose and Giant are finally shooting up. The foliage is a bit untidy and yellow in spring, but I like the bit of green in winter. I haven't tried Sternbergia and it's a bit too late for this fall so maybe next year. It does look really lovely.

Lots of great ideas in this thread. I'll add it to the FAQ so it doesn't disappear off GW. So who has a great picture of an unusual fall-blooming plant? (Something you took yourself and would like to donate for the FAQ.)

* Posted by: ladybug6a 6a ontario on Fri, Sep 27, 02 at 22:52

You all forgot Solidago (Golden rod). I just love the yellow with the commen Aster.

* Posted by: Taryn S Ontario Z6B on Fri, Sep 27, 02 at 23:11

LOL Ladybug! The post was about 'little known' fall bloomers. I would say that many of us know the common Asters and Golden Rod, though there are some nice cultivars out there. Many who suffer with allergies know the latter a bit too well!

P.S. Tricyrtis hirta 'Miyazaki' is in bud, I'm soo excited! (first year from seed!)

* Posted by: Andy_Japan z9 on Sat, Sep 28, 02 at 2:56

So glad this thread resurfaced, cause I love this season.

Eric, we have c. incana all over--they reseeded last year--and as you said they will bloom the first year. Yours are lovely.

Spec4, I had no idea ajania wasn't a chrysanthemum! Anyway, as you say, the foliage is a whole lot nicer.

I'm love gentiana scabra, a really late bloomer. My first bloom opened yesterdday. True blue--nice for a rock garden, cause they're small.

* Posted by: Taryn S Ontario Z6B on Sun, Sep 29, 02 at 23:19

Andy, that is so pretty! If you manage to get some seed from them, I'd be very interested...

* Posted by: Bob_R z6 Ontario on Mon, Sep 30, 02 at 0:56

Great thread David! I'd like to add Begonia grandis, which is at its peak. And I'd like to single out a tricyrtis which is unlike others in habit and flower - macranthopsis is trailing and has yellow flowers, a few of which are just starting to open (this is a new plant for me and I'm seeing it bloom for the first time). Bob

* Posted by: Marg504 z5PA on Tue, Oct 1, 02 at 6:38

How long will it take to get the word out that "golden rod" is not responsible for fall allergies. It is the pollen of "ragweed" that is to be blamed for all that misery. Golden Rod justly deserves a place in our fall gardens

* Posted by: spec4lover z7 VA on Tue, Oct 1, 02 at 10:04

My toad lilies are beginning to bloom!!! The speckled ones (I haven't looked up their names and the book is at home) are simply lovely and loaded with buds. The white ones didn't do as well this year. I read today that they should be watered when climate is in drought. I had them mulched and didn't water. It really looks like the speckled blooms didn't miss a beat, but perhaps that's why the poor showing on the white ones. It's a pretty little flower...

Recent rains have made some of the reblooming daylilies shoot up new scapes. Radiant Ruffles and Siloam David Kirchhoff and So Excited are some of the prettiest ones!!!

* Posted by: Andy_Japan z9 on Tue, Oct 1, 02 at 19:44

Spec4 and Taryn, glad you like this gentian. Taryn, this thread said little known, not easy to grow, LOL They are so difficult, they are often considered annual, but I got mine to survive and flower after three tries ;-)

Last night Japan was hit by Typhoon 21 (no names, just numbers!) and I'll go outside later to check to see if anything is left of my garden. Any seeds that might develop have you name on them.

BTW, toadlily has a muuuuch nicer name over here--it is called (Japanese) nightingale (hototogisu).

* Posted by: Brody 7/8 snst4 WA on Fri, Oct 4, 02 at 8:09

I'll second the Begonia grandis, and Cyclamen hederifolium, too. Schizostylus coccinea and its varieties are also great for fall, even into winter if the weather is mild. But my favorite is Nerine bowdenii, which should be blooming in about a week in my garden. Lots of hardy geraniums are still going strong, and Crocosmia 'Emily McKenzie is too. Great ideas, everyone!

* Posted by: Dicentra SE PA z6B on Fri, Oct 4, 02 at 9:29

Marg, I agree! I love Goldenrod and have it planted towards the back of a native plantings area. It's showy and tough, especially in a garden setting.

* Posted by: david_5311 Z 5b/6a SE Mich on Sat, Oct 12, 02 at 10:05

Hi all, I have been gone 2 weeks but I am happy to see more contributions to this thread! I agree with Andy that fall is a wonderful time in the garden. One of the first things we all have to do on returning from a trip, of course, is to see how the garden is *doing* and what we have missed (even if it is pitch black outside, right? LOL). One of my treats on return is to see this little known treasure, Salvia koymae, in full bloom now. I expected it to bloom earlier but it is certainly welcome in October. This started as just a single plant this spring, now covering a 3' circle. I hope it will not be too agressive a spreader, because it certainly has won my heart.

* Posted by: Taryn S Ontario Z6B on Sun, Oct 13, 02 at 4:41

Tricyrtis hirta 'Miazaki' is stunning, first year from seed! As is Begonia grandis. Patrinia scabiosifolia is remarkable too (in its second year). The bees and wasps seem really taken with it, drunk on it almost, LOL! I moved 3 plants from my trailer park (which we are leaving) to my front garden, and couldn't get most of the bugs off them. They were quite happy to stay on the blooms enroute, and are still glued to them now! I didn't cut them back before digging, and they are still blooming their fool heads off, with a bit of staking for support while they settle into their new homes.

* Posted by: Andy_Japan z9 on Sun, Oct 13, 02 at 21:04

David, how frustrating to learn about a Japanese native from someone in Michigan, lol! I LOVE it. Too bad I don't have any shade to put it it. I did some research and in Japanese it's called Nagano (place name, remember the winter Olympics?) autumn paulownia! And Taryn, I've already got seeds of patrinia germinating for next year. (Only had one this year.) A great addition to any fall garden!

* Posted by: girlgroupgirl 7b on Sun, Oct 13, 02 at 21:16

This year I planted a Forsythia Sage (will bloom next year), the shorter version of tartarian aster and a climbing aster which is absolutely the most beautiful lavendar color! It took me a few years to figure out what would give me the most continuous and latest blooms. The trick is to make sure they well placed (not to close to others, not too far away as to be just islands in a bed of green or dirt). I also purchased a plant listed as Kunata (sp?) but it is a creeping mat forming plant with small pink ball heads. Pretty, blooming now but would be super invasive if not where it was planted. I like the Caryopteris/clerondenrum. I think I am going to add this to my want list!

* Posted by: krista_marie 5 on Sun, Oct 13, 02 at 22:15

My Wonder of Staffa aster has been blooming into November for the last three years along with my Iceberg rose. I couldn't be happier. My mums, plumbago, agastache, caryopteris, and salvia are all blooming their heads off. That will probably end with the frost tonight.

* Posted by: Eric_OH 6a on Sun, Oct 20, 02 at 0:02

Reading some of the comments about asters, I get the feeling that people are overlooking these plants based on their familiarity with roadside asters, and instead plunking down money for potted mums which are hit-or-miss when it comes to hardiness. Aster oblongifolius (forms of which are sometimes sold as 'Raydon's Favorite' or 'Fanny's Aster') is one highly adaptable species that thrives from zone 5 on down to the Gulf Coast. A. tataricus and A. elliottii (a tall Florida native with pink flowers, good for hot climates) are other species worth investigating. And I've seen few mums that could match 'Prof. von Kippenburg's performance in my garden this year:

* Posted by: david_5311 Z 5b/6a SE Mich on Sun, Oct 20, 02 at 7:38

I'll just put in a sideline to asters, after Erics comments. There are many good asters, and as he said one of the most gardenworthy is A. oblongifolius. 'Raydon's favorite' is a great plant, has a very nice tight 'shrub-like' appearance in bloom, and fairly late bloom. I have grown some other cultivars of this species too. One slight problem I have had up here is that they seem a bit marginal in hardiness, I have lost them some years. My favorite asters, which would qualify as little known since I have rarely seen them in gardens (and maybe never heard anyone else talk about them in the forums) are cultivars of the species A. laevis. My absolute favorite is a tall (4-5') variety with rich lavendar flowers and dark purple red stems call 'Calliope'. It is a great garden plant throughout the season beacause of its dark stems, which make a wondeful light-dark color echo with the plant in bloom. The other fabulous cultivar of A. laevis worth growing is 'Bluebird', also a shrubby mass of rich lavendar in bloom, not bothered by so many of the problems which plague the more common New England asters. Finally, I will put in a plug for the native Aster ericoides, the heath aster. These plants make clouds of white to pale pink or lavendar blooms, are ideal in poor soils, but will also do well in average garden soil. I rarely if ever see them in gardens but they are good plants. Heronswood used to carry quite a few named cultivars.

* Posted by: zrusilla z5 Chi,IL on Mon, Oct 21, 02 at 16:52

Heath aster grows wild all over the neighborhood around my office. I recently dug up a sample from a vacant lot and plunked it in my parkway garden. I also did the same for butter-and-eggs (toadflax.)

* Posted by: Eric_OH 6a on Mon, Oct 21, 02 at 18:07

A few more, strutting their stuff as October draws to a close: Agastache rupestris 'Apache Sunset' - fine billowing blue-green foliage scented of anise or liquorice (individual nose interpretations vary) and tubular orange-red to apricot flowers. I didn't think much of this plant when it started blooming in early summer in its first season from seed, but it's gotten more floriferous and dense since then. Very nice. I had forgotten ever planting it, but a renegade deep purple Aconitum has come into flower. And Helianthus 'First Light' has been impressive in its initial season, the yellow flowers especially effective glowing in the light of late afternoon and early evening. And it doesn't do too badly in early morning either.

* Posted by: david_5311 Z 5b/6a SE Mich on Mon, Oct 21, 02 at 19:10

And, perhaps last but not one has mentioned (where are you Beverly/Storybook Gardener??)....(drum roll).....Ligularia tusselaginea aureomaculata (don't ya' just love that name!!!!!). I learned of this plant on this forum last winter, bought one from Plant Delights. Well my plant has thrived, except for a few slug holes, and when I got back home a week ago it was just covered with flower stalks. The flowers aren't quite open, though I can see the yellow inflorescences just beginning to show. It has been unusually cold here the past few weeks, but I am still hoping that this will fully open. If so, it is clearly going to be a November bloomer. I am hopeful, and Beverly and others reported success in overwintering this in Michigan and Ohio, despite the zone 7 rating. I will post a picture when (if) it fully opens out.

* Posted by: Tomato_Girl z5St.Louis on Tue, Oct 22, 02 at 15:13

How can I get some Calliope Astor? I saw a really tall blue aster at the Missouri Botanical Garden and it was next to the FABULOUS goldenrod 'Fireworks'. What a pair!

* Posted by: david_5311 Z 5b/6a SE Mich on Tue, Oct 22, 02 at 17:34

A tall aster which is easy to find (relatively) is A. tataricus. It gets 5-6'. Tolerates part shade too. Somewhat invasive, not for a 'polite' border. I got my aster 'Calliope' from Heronswood years ago, not sure they still offer it. Well worth seeking out. Other tall asters to look for are 'Treasurer' and 'Climax'. Do a search, I'm not sure of sources. Canyon Creek Nursery in California used to be a good source for some of these asters but I do not think they offer them any more.

* Posted by: Eric_OH 6a on Tue, Oct 22, 02 at 20:46

I recently saw the ligularia David mentioned in a wooded section of a display garden in North Carolina. Very nice under oaks. The flowers are OK, but strictly secondary to the foliage. This plant and plain ol' L. tussilaginea are acceptable hosta substitutes in places too far south for hostas to flourish.

* Posted by: judyefd 6ma/4vt on Wed, Oct 23, 02 at 10:49

I want to put in a pitch for Mongolian Aster - Asteromoea mongolica. It has adorable white buttons (that start out with a lavender hue) with yellow centers. They've been non-stop blooming for me since mid-July - and I pinched them back twice to keep the height to a little over 2 feet. Still looking good - even with this morning's snow!

* Posted by: gardenbug Canada zone 5 on Wed, Oct 23, 02 at 11:21

My aster, The Prince, is a beautiful thing today in the garden with its darkest of leaves and multitudes of tiny white pink-centered blooms. I caution those who think that goldenrods are common. The many hybrids are very deserving of investigation. The "solidaster" is also a beauty- a compact hybrid cross between Aster and Solidago.

* Posted by: Lisa_H 7 OK on Wed, Oct 23, 02 at 13:31

I didn't see anyone mention it, but I really enjoy my perennial ageratum Eupatorium coelestinum this time of year. It is a beautiful misty blue color and really adds some color to fall bouquets. However, put this in a place you don't mind it roaming, it is rather invasive. I have it in a partially sunny location (more sun than shade).

* Posted by: Eric_OH 6a on Wed, Oct 23, 02 at 16:50

Eupatorium coelestinum generally runs about a foot and a half tall max, sometimes a bit more. It does spread, but is shallow rooted and easy to yank if it strays where you don't want it.

* Posted by: sbeuerlein on Wed, Oct 23, 02 at 21:25

I have an Agastache called "Apricot Sunrise," which I've enjoyed this year. Still in bloom. Started in July or August. Solidago rugosum "Fireworks" somebody mentioned has become one of my favorite perennials. Something to look forward to each year. Spectacular.

* Posted by: Andy_Japan z9 on Thu, Oct 24, 02 at 3:56

I just found this one: Ainsliaea cordifolia. Blooms in October. It's a compositae, and hardy to zone 4! Terra Nova is the only place it's available. But they're only wholesale. Maybe if you contacted them they could tell you what nurseries/garden centers they sold them to--or maybe it's just for the coming 2003 season. And maybe if you bought enough (GB, you have plenty of space!) you could get them wholesale.

* Posted by: Bonitoad 7b B.C. on Sat, Oct 26, 02 at 5:03

You all had me very concerned about what was blooming in your gardens... until I looked at the dates you posted on.....wheeee. We've only had cool weather for a few days now and plants , such as hostas, have just turned yellow. I'm enjoying all my fall blooming tricyrtis, pulsatillas are at it again, and the stately ( 7-8' ) Leycesteria formosa is at it's best right now...

What an interesting thread this is... I've been busy writing down names on my wish list.... thanks every-one..

* Posted by: Bouquet z8 Dallas on Tue, Oct 29, 02 at 16:41

When I first planted the perennial Blue Mist Flower, I was disappointed with the weird lavender color that seemed to clash with its own green leaves. This year I have a Paul Neyron rose surrounded by Victoria Salvias with Blue Mist flower along one side mixed in with the salvias and a pale yellow lantana called Lemon Drops in between. The purple of the salvia seems to tone down the lavender and help it blend better with the other colors. I know you're not supposed to plant things so close to roses but I really like the way this looks. For me, it makes a nice filler and is shallow rooted and easy to thin out where you don't need it. I have it in full sun. I tried a Caryopteris once but it didn't make it. Our summers are brutal. I'm still a novice and tend to fall for plants the nurseries sell ? a lot that are inappropriate for this area.

* Posted by: Eric_OH 6a on Wed, Oct 30, 02 at 9:56

In addition to E. coelestinum, there's another member of the genus that would be useful in your area. E. greggii is native to Texas and parts of the Southwest, blooming in spring and fall and attracting butterflies. It grows to about 18 inches and is rated hardy to zone 7. I also grew a shrubby Mexican Eupatorium (E. viburnioides) in the Houston area (it's been offered by Yucca Do nursery). This one is somewhat succulent and has white flowers which appear very late in the season (late November when I grew it).

* Posted by: Bouquet z8 Dallas on Wed, Oct 30, 02 at 12:07

Thanks for the additional suggestions re eupatoriums -- Do you know if that Euphorbia polychroma 'Midas' in David's garden would grow in my area? I'm always looking for fall color in foliage (red, orange, burgundy)-- like Nandina, but not Nandina. I know something like that would really set off what I have blooming right now for next year: Salvia gregii in all colors (red, fushia, apricot, orange, pale yellow and white), Mexican Mint Marigold, Salvia Leucantha, Radiation lantana, yellow butterfly bush, Russian Sage, and Mutabilis. (The plants we can grow here sound so unsophisticated compared to your plants further north...) but I can't complain about the beautiful color right now. I'm not ready to commit to the permanence of shrubs in this garden since I'm still experimenting with the position of the plants. I did find that an earlier comment about planting 2 fall blooming things for every one planted before June has really helped me in my selection of plants lately. Thank you to whoever that was!

* Posted by: david_5311 Z 5b/6a SE Mich on Wed, Oct 30, 02 at 13:20

Hi Bouquet, that comment was one that I read years ago and often quoted (here and elsewhere) from Christopher Lloyd, the great British gardener, and I have found it useful for years in planning long-season herbaceous plantings. I suspect that you can grow Euphorbia polychroma, but I can't guarantee that it would turn color for you. Some gardeners in mild climates suggested that it did not turn color without significant cold. But of course, there is an easy way to find out (try it and see, then let us know...)

I have to laugh about your comment about not wanting to use shrubs because you are still playing 'musical plants' and making changes. I can tell you that doesn't stop me! I spent the weekend moving shrubs around, doing exactly what we do with perennials. It really isn't a problem as long as you don't wait too long, (try it and see...). And I would much rather move a 2 year old viburnum than a 10 year old Miscanthus sinensis 'Silberfeder' any day! :o)

* Posted by: Eric_OH 6a on Wed, Oct 30, 02 at 14:20

There are good fall accent plants for the Dallas area that would be marginally hardy further north. A few that come to mind are grasses in the genus Muhlenbergia (M. lindheimeri is a gorgeous blue-green grass with excellent flowers (there was a fine specimen at the Antique Rose Emporium the last time I was there) and M. capillaris lights up meadows with its hazy pink plumes in fall. Pennisetum setaceum rubrum will last deep into fall for you. You mentioned Mexican mint marigold, and another Tagetes (T. lemmonii) is a shower of late-season gold with a plus of citrusy foliage. Firebush (Hamelia patens) is probably not going to be reliably hardy for you, but grown as an annual will thrive on the hot summers and give you red-tinted foliage as the weather cools.

* Posted by: Bouquet z8 Dallas on Wed, Oct 30, 02 at 14:45

I have a T. lemmonii planted last spring as a 4" pot. It is now 2'x5' and planted in the wrong place since I was unaware it would get so huge. It has not bloomed yet and we have a cold front coming this weekend -- hope I don't lose the blooms. The firebush I have considered before. Maybe I'll try it next year to accent one of the tagetes. Thanks for the excellent suggestions.


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