Incorporating fall-blooming perennials into your garden design is like gaining a whole new garden, says Valleybrook Gardens sales consultant Tony Post.
Once spring and summer flowers have faded, late-blooming perennials continue the flower show.
First-time fall gardeners can’t go wrong with sedums, says Post. “They’re a fail-safe plant for any well-drained, sunny location.”
Some of his favourites include the dark-leafed “Chocolate Drop” with deep pink flowers, and the October Daphne (Sedum sieboldii), which has frothy pink flowers and succulent blue-green leaves edged in pink that turn brilliant orange in cool weather.
For shady locations, he recommends Japanese anemones (Anemone x hybrida), which offer tremendous late-season bloom power.
Tried and true hybrids such as the delicate single white flowers of “Honorine Jobert” and the deep-pink, double-flowering “Serenade” can reach an impressive metre in height.
“The new Pretty Lady Series is a more compact Japanese anemone that’s about 24 inches tall,” he says.
Fall is a great time to add these and other autumn-blooming perennials to the garden. “If you buy them in the spring, they’re just green leaves,” says Post.
“In the fall, you can see what you’re getting.”
His top five recommendations include shade-tolerant “Hillside Black Beauty” bugbane (Actaea simplex (Atropurpurea Group), “Hillside Black Beauty”) which has dark, lacy foliage and nearly two-metre-tall flower stalks with masses of fragrant white to pale pink bottlebrush blooms.
Another fall perennial for shade is toad lily (Tricyrtis cvs.). “One of the last perennials to bloom, the spotted flowers are unlike any other,” says Post. Place them near a pathway where their unusual flowers can be appreciated.
“Lemon Queen” sunflower (Helianthus “Lemon Queen”) is a two-metre-tall , yellow-flowering sun-lover that is perfectly suited to larger gardens.
Also commanding attention in the late-season garden are the hooded blue flowers of “Royal Flush” monkshood (Aconitum carmichaelii “Royal Flush”), says Post.
His favourite groundcover for fall is blue leadwort (Cerastigma plumbaginoides). Its sapphire-blue flowers and maroon fall foliage look spectacular planted with autumn crocuses and colchicums.