The Charmed Garden

From Planning to Planting, and from Harvest to Table.

Brilliant Fall Colors are Not Just in the Trees

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This is a monster Aster in my backyard. I’m sure it has it’s own zip code by now 

Here in Oak Lawn, which is just few miles outside of Chicago, we’ve had a very dry August.  We’ve also had a record breaking heatwave in September and less than an inch of rain in that same time.  Temperatures and amount of rainfall both affect the change of leaf color in the fall, and not in a good way.  Sadly we’re seeing very little of the gorgeous fall colors from our trees before dropping their leaves.  On the upside, with the stars of the fall show taking a hiatus, the supporting cast gets to put on their own show.

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Hydrangea Bush

These flowers on this Hydrangea bush are white when they first bloom and have now faded to shades of brown and dark pink.  They’re stunning in your garden and trendy shabby chic in a vase.

 

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Perennial Switchgrass

In the fall Perennial Grasses fade to shades of soft brown and lavender and are lovely to watch sway with the breeze.  If you’ve planted Sea Oats Grasses, then you have Mother Nature’s wind chimes to serenade you. The seed heads  rattle against each other and in their pods, making their own music when the breeze hits them.

I just love Sedums. They bloom from late Summer through the Fall. They are amazingly easy to grow and need nearly no maintenance.  They are the size of  and have the structure of a small sturdy bush, roughly 2ft x 2ft or even 3ft x 3ft. They’re bloom times and size make them a great companion to just about any perennial, especially the willowy grasses.

Of course there are the perennial favorites – pun intended-  Mums and Asters.

These are mums in the neighborhood and a close up of the Monster Aster from my backyard.

All of these perennials are on sale at nurseries, big box stores, even our grocery store has mums.  As with any perennial, if you want it to bloom again next year, give it a little fertilizer the first season of planting and PLENTY of Water!!!  Then put a layer of mulch around the roots. If you have a dry winter, be sure to check the newbies for “heaving”. This means the roots of the plant will literally be heaved out of their new home due to the freezing and thawing of the ground, which happens in a warmer and drier than average winter.  If your plant is trying to leave it’s new home in the middle of the winter, put it right back in, pushing the soil firmly over the roots and water and mulch it.

If you need a little help deciding where and how to place your new perennials, here are a few photos to help.

Layer your plants, with the larger plants like bushes and grasses in the back, and then the medium sized followed by the smaller plants, like your mums and normal sized Asters.

The upside to this warmer weather you really do still have time to put in a few more perennials in your garden. AND they’re going to definitely to be on sale this time of year.

Go For It! and send photos of the fall colors in your gardens. Any color!!

Author: Laurine M. Byrne

I received my certification as a Landscape Designer from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois and I received my horticulture education through classes at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois and through the master gardener program at Univ of Illinois Extension. In my designs, I love mixing veggies and herbs with native perennials and flowering bushes as you can see from the pictures of my own yard. I love creating gardens for people who like to garden, not just installing traditional landscaping, but actually creating gardens that the homeowner connects to personally. I love that my clients who thought they couldn't grow anything now have green thumbs, because all it takes is the right plant in the right site. And I really love that my clients become my friends in the process of creating their gardens.

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