Posts Tagged ‘Fall Planting’

Nestled on a side street on the upper east side of Manhattan, this high school had some long abandoned tree pits that needed a little TLC and some color for the fall season. After excavating the existing soil and debris we planted an elegant display of Brassica oleracea (Ornamental Kale), Heuchera (Coral Bells), Acorus sp. (Sweet Flag) and pansies. The colorful foliage of the plants provide the backdrop for the splash of yellow provided by the Pansies. Always think about some neutrals in your planting and having one plant (or flower) be the focal point. You could call this planting autumnal, but I think just plain preppy suits just fine.

Violet Hues in the Heuchera and Kale Give This Fall Planting Structure

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Sedum 'Autumn Joy' Paired With Pennisetum 'Little Bunny'

I was strolling through my local garden store this weekend when I came across this perfect fall combination of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and Pennisetum ‘Little Bunny’ (can also be substituted with ‘Hameln’). Now that Labor Day has passed, it is time to give the garden a spruce up for autumn.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is appropriately named for the jubilant explosion of pink flowers beginning in late August and continuing for a good month into the end of September.  The color ranges from light pink to almost pale purple depending on the exact variety (‘Autumn Joy’ is just one of many fall blooming sedums).  This particular sedum grows to be about 2-3′ tall and 2-3′ wide.  The pale lime green leaves appear in early spring and provide a contrast of green within the garden during the summer months.  The flower buds are a very light version that also brings some interest.  Use ‘Autumn Joy’ in the perennial borders and beds paired with other fall interest plants such as the Pennisetum pictured above or rudbeckias. Make sure to aggressively deadhead early flowers to stimulate new growth on the plant which will produce an even bigger spectacle in autumn.

Pennisetum ‘Little Bunny’ or ‘Hameln’ look almost identical with wispy green blades in the summer giving way to feathery flower plumes in late summer.  The flowers on this fountain grass, are reminescent of bottle brushes but are much softer to the touch.  The main difference between these two varieties are height.  ‘Little Bunny’ makes good on its name with the height and width of about a foot.  For greater impact in larger spaces, use ‘Hameln’ because of its height of 2-3′ and width of 3-4′.

All of these plants are very readily found in your local garden store or market, especially now when they are in their peak season of interest.

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Fall is a tricky time for gardening. With cooler evenings, and more frequent rain, gardens tend to prepare themselves for winter while their owners continue tramping around in their sandals fearful to unpack their cool season sweaters. I see this every day walking around New York City; impatiens linger in forlorn planters while hardier vines fill in spots now left empty from earlier summer spectacles.  

The first day of that crisp autumn air always sets off my annual alarm that says it’s time for apple cider, spiced chai lattes, pumpkins, squash, and all things accompanied by the refreshing seasonal changes. Fall is also time to refresh you garden, and a few changes can add just enough zing to last your landscape through frost.

Try these simple tips:

  1. Add Lights for Evening. Temporary luminaries are terrific for outdoor events, while solar lights are a more environmentally friendly long term option.
  2. Have fun! Don’t take the garden so seriously. Enjoy the harvest and all things bountiful, mix it up a little and add color or seasonal interest where you may not do so for the rest of the season.
  3. Look for contrasting foliage instead of short lived blooms as a backdrop for the garden (leave the mums behind)
  4. Paint a snow scene without using the white paint. Can you paint a fall scene without the typical hues of yellow orange and red? Consider an alternative pallette with rich burgundy, brown and olive. Or how about pink and lime green. Think of ways to translate this into your plantings, and outdoor accessories. 
  5. Skip the flowers and go straight for the berries. Callicarpa americana (Beautyberry) is a personal favorite, and is readily accessible garden centers.


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