If you think that fall garden plants are limited to chrysanthemums and pansies, think again. There are a great variety of plants that will see you through into the winter months and add some color and pizazz to your garden. And in early October there's still time to get these beauties into the ground.
"Yellow and orange perennials such as rudbeckia and the red-toned blanket flower (gaillardia) will bloom all summer and well into frost," explains Travis Slagle, retail manager for Ashland Greenhouses. He adds that these perennials can be planted from spring into fall and, like many perennials, will multiply every year.
Slagle encourages anyone wanting such popular pansies as the multi-colored "Majestic Giants" to buy them when they see them "as we often sell out." This variety of pansy is characterized by blotches of blue, yellow and violet, which gives the flowers texture and variety whether planted in containers or directly into the garden.
"I like to leave summer annuals in the garden until frost and mix in some flowers that will winter over either in containers or in the ground," explains Pat Carbone, retail manager of Valley View Nursery in Ashland. Coral bells (heuchera) mix in well with annuals and with autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora), which stays green well into fall and then turns a reddish orange, Carbone explains. She's noticed that orange and coral-colored flowers have become popular for year-round use over the past few years and not just for fall gardens.
Asters and Japanese anemones are other flowers that bloom from fall into winter and mix in well with mums, Carbone adds. "And hellebores bloom from winter into spring and do well in the weaker heat of the winter sun," she explains. Plant them under trees or in shade for best year round performance.
Such shrubs as burning bush (kochia) and the several varieties of heavenly bamboo (nandina) become bright red and orange garden accents beginning in the fall, and the nandina offers red berries that birds love. These shrubs can serve as borders and as backdrops to blooming plants (such as pansies, asters and mums), in addition to providing colorful garden accents on their own.
"Another great fall into winter garden accent is the plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides), a perennial ground cover with purple flowers," Slagle says. The dark green leaves turn a reddish brown in the winter and, as the flowers bloom until the frost, the effect in the garden can be striking."
So know that even in October, there are a great variety of flowers and shrubs to plant that will bring you color in the garden well into the winter months.