I wait all year to see the elusive flowers that only show up in the late fall. And it’s a good thing, as the landscape is quietly going to sleep and can look unkempt and dull.
It likes a dry sunny spot and is avoided by deer because of its minty, silvery fuzzy foliage. Bluebeard (caryopteris) is
another blue-flowered shrub you can enjoy. Its bright blue flowers draw the bees that need late season pollen as much of their food supply disappears. However, you must have full sun for this plant to prosper. It thrives on neglect and poor soil as long as it is well-drained. A third blue flowered beauty is monkshood (aconitum).
It comes in an array of blue shades from a deep, inky blue to one that is sky blue. It likes shade and moisture. As it is poisonous, the deer don’t touch it. The last blue flower for your consideration is anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). Its fuzzy foliage smells like licorice and draws pollinators to its tall spikes of blue-lavender flowers. We grow it in our Master Gardener Demonstration Garden for its good looks, fragrance, and pollinator power.
In the Pink
Maybe blue doesn’t do it for you. So how about a color palette of pink and/or white? Japanese anemones make their entrance in late summer and continue flowering through frost. In some states, they are on the invasive list so you may have to forego them. If not, be heartened in their preference for dry shade and their spreading habit which keeps weeds at bay. You have your choice of color: pink or white in a perennial that is untouched by insects and disease.
A second pink fall flower is turtlehead (chelone)
so called because they look like the head of a turtle. Mine have been flowering in a damp, part-shade spot for a few weeks and will continue for several more. They come in white or pink and their poisonous nature repels the deer. Toad Lily (tricyrtis) is a superb, carefree, shade-loving perennial. Its pink and white speckled flowers (they can also be in shades of purple)
remind me of tall orchids as they reach heights of two to four feet. When they’re happy, they form a nice colony that I can only enjoy this time of year. Sweet Autumn Clematis is hard to miss this time of year. A cascading vine, it delivers a profusion of starlike, fragrant white flowers that perfume the garden when you least expect that.
is a stunning fall addition you should consider. All season long you have this plain green shrub. Its flowers are insignificant until they turn a day-glow shade of purple to light up the landscape and feed the birds. Even better is the foliage that changes to golden yellow to contrast with the berries. It’s a real showstopper in a part-shade garden. Plus it’s not fussy about soil and will hold up in the cold weather. We enjoy the view of what the birds leave on right though Thanksgiving and beyond in some seasons.
For Hydrangea Lovers
Being the hydrangea lover that I am, I must include oak leaf (quercifolia) and panicle (paniculata) hydrangeas in this rundown.
The oak leaf version likes some shade and will reward you with flowers that mature from white to light pink and even deep rose. The second show on this plant is the foliage that turns multiple shades of maroon, orange, and red in the fall.
Its cousin, the panicle hydrangea, delivers a cone shaped flower that also ages to shades of pink and rose. But this one like the sun. You can find panicle hydrangeas in all sizes from about two feet to eight feet so read the labels carefully.
Ornamental grasses look their best right now as they put up their brush-like flowers
and change colors. It’s another family of plants that the deer don’t touch. Plus they come in an array of sizes and shapes to suit just about every space you might want to fill. Many are annuals so be certain you get what you want. Remember that every time you plant you have a chance to improve your soil and fall is an especially good time to do that. Coast of Maine organically approved, compost-based soils, enriching mulches, and soil supplements are designed to enhance and support healthy soil biology.
So now that you have kissed summer goodbye, embrace this new season. Swimsuits and beach gear are put away. The refreshingly cool temps are your signal to explore the changing color palette that the surrounding landscape presents before it all turns to white. Yikes!
Written by Lorraine Ballato, author of Success With Hydrangeas, A Gardener’s Guide