The Autumn Landscape
Many people think that once October arrives the yard and garden season is over. Not true! There are many plants that are at their peak performance at this time. Sadly most people do not plan for a fall landscape and miss out on such exciting plants.
We can divide plants for the autumn landscape into two categories: plants with great Fall leaf color and plants that bloom in Fall. Those with great leaf color are easy to spot and are generally quite well known (maples, barberry, burning bush, etc.). Plants that bloom in autumn are not so common and not used in the landscape as much as they should be.
During the height of the busy spring/summer planting season, fall blooming plants are often ignored by people when selecting plants since they are not in bloom at this time. What a shame so many people are missing out on fall bloomers in their landscape. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis)
This shade loving perennial is available in several selections. All of them are fall blooming, usually starting in August and blooming through October. All toad lilies produce large amounts of small orchid-like flowers. Heights range from 18”-30” tall depending on variety. We carry both ‘Samurai’ and ‘Tojen’. Tojen grows about 30” tall with lavender flowers. Samurai averages 18” tall, has yellow leaf margins and the flowers are spotted. Both perform well.
Ozawa Onion (Allium)
This ornamental onion never gets noticed until October. It always seems to be the latest blooming plant in the fall landscape, often lasting into November. This plant will set flower buds in late August/September which open pink or white in October. It is a tidy clumping plant with typical onion foliage and stays short (1’ tall). Like all ornamental onions it grows best in full sun situations.
We grow many wonderful asters that bloom in September and October. Purple Dome, Woods Blue, Raydons Favorite just to name a few. My favorite is Woods Pink. This delightful low growing plant is just a riot of color in Autumn and blooms for many weeks. It has a mounded growth habit averaging 18” tall and wide.
Autumn is also a time for home orchard cleanup. If you grow apples, be sure to pickup all fallen fruits and rake up the apple leaves. Dispose of both by composting/burying them. If you leave them on the ground, any apple scab fungus present can over winter on the fallen leaves/fruits. This can be a source for scab infection next spring on your apple trees should favorable conditions occur in May. In a commercial orchard, the grass is usually mowed in October after harvest to not only reduce over wintering vole/mouse habitat but also to chop up the fallen leaves so they decompose faster.
Paul Schwabe is a salesman in our Contractor Sales division. He holds a degree in horticulture and will be writing about some of his favorite and underused plants.