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Archive for October, 2010

Fall is for Planting (once it rains)

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Aster 'Blue Bird' and Amsonia hubrichtii

We finally got some much needed rain, temperatures are cooling off and I am ready to order my spring bulbs and plant them.  This is also a great time in many parts of the country to add plants to your garden. And, when I see them doing their thing, whether it’s fruiting, flowering or showing off colorful foliage, I am inspired to garden. After a two hour stroll through the Atlanta Botanical Garden this morning I have a list of plants that are garden worthy for many reasons.  Some are old favorites and others are less familiar but good doers.  A few that caught my eye include Aster ‘Blue Bird,’ with violet-blue flowers (Zone 4 to 8 ) and Amsonia hubrichtii, (Zone 4 to 9) with willowy foliage that turns golden yellow later in autumn.  ‘Blue Bird’ will reach 3 to 4’ and will need staking if you forget to pinch it back in June.  Either way, it provides welcome late-season color. I also like Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome,’ (Zone 4 to 8 ) a selection of New England Aster with vivid purple daisy-like flowers. For the gardener who wants a bullet-proof aster, Aster tataricus fits that bill.  In spring the foliage looks almost weedy so be sure you mark where it is planted.  This long bloomer starts as early as September and continues into November producing masses of pale lavender daisies with yellow centers.   If you like tall plants this aster grows 6 to 10 feet tall and won’t need staking in most soils and full sun.  The selection ‘Jin Dai’ is supposed to be a more compact form but mine is already at 6’ tall and growing.  Pinching back in the summer is bound to make a difference. Combine it with goldenrods or the Willowleaf Sunflower, Helianthus salicifolius (Zone 5 to 10) which also grows 4 to 8 feet tall at maturity. (You can pinch back this perennial too, stop by the end of June)  Ornamental grasses are fall favorites and Panicum virgatum ‘Dallas Blues’ was paired with Ilex verticillata (deciduous hollies) and hardy garden mums. 

Aster tataricus and Helianthus salicifolius

For a bright spot of yellow the rain lily Zephyranthes citrina is perfect at the front of the border or as an edger along a pathway.  Even easier to grow is the white rain lily blooming in my garden now, Zephyranthes candida. (Zone 7 to 10 ).

Zephyranthes citrina

Fall without Viburnums and other berried shrubs would not be as colorful. The Tea Viburnum, Viburnum setigerum, continues to be one of my favorites and although it is open in habit, it makes a welcome addition to the edge of a woodland border where it gets at least a half-day of sun.  Although I would not have thought to combine the two, Malus sargentii, Sargent’s Crabapple (Zone 4 to 7) looks good paired with the Goldenrod,  Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks.’

Viburnum setigerum, Tea Viburnum

If you’re looking for something different to try this fall and you live in the Atlanta, Georgia area stop by Ashe-Simpson Garden Center and ask about Angelica keiskii.  It’s hard to find much about this plant but the glossy foliage is handsome for months (it grows in part sun or shade)  and then disappears only to return next year.  Pair it with evergreen foliage groundcovers for the best effect. 

Just a few ideas to get you out in the garden.  More to follow on plants for fall or plants to add to your garden this fall.