Now that temperatures have dropped a bit and being outside is comfortable again, it’s time to rethink your fall garden. What are the highlights? What shapes and colors do your eyes focus on?

Itea virginica 'Little Henry' - Fall garden shrub foliage - 18405 left garage bed - 11/14/08

The foliage of Itea virginica ‘Little Henry’ in my garden in mid-November




Vaccinum Ornablue color variance-taken at Klyn Nurseries by my saleswoman

Vaccinum ‘Ornablue’ color variance-taken at Klyn Nurseries by my saleswoman

Many of the plants that change color during the fall haven’t done so yet because the temperatures aren’t low enough but when they do, we will all enjoy the fabulous fall foliage. Some of the best are Itea virginica (Sweetspire), Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’ (Brilliant Red Chokeberry), and blueberries, an excellent substitute for those who love the red of Burning Bush but don’t want such an invasive plant in their landscapes. I’ll never forget seeing fields of blueberries in early November in Oregon. I didn’t realize what I was seeing until I drove close to one of the fields and got out of the car to look at the leaves.

Schyzachrium 'Jazz'on Sept 21, 2009 by Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennials at his nursery

Schyzachrium ‘Jazz’on Sept 21, 2009 by Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennials at his nursery

At this time of year the ornamental grasses are in full bloom and, many of them also change leaf color. Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem), best in a sunny and dry site, changes from blue with tinges of red to purply blue. The red switch grasses that had only a tinge of red during the summer become very red and the blue switch grasses become golden yellow.

Amsonia 'Halfway to Arkansas' - Fall garden , Perennial foliage color - 18405 front - 11/14/08

Amsonia ‘Halfway to Arkansas’in mid-November in my garden

Foliage color and texture during early winter: Geranium cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'; 18405 west hill; 12/4/12

Foliage color and texture during early winter of Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’

One of the best perennials for color change in the fall is Amsonia hubrichtii (Arkansas Amsonia). The fine textured foliage becomes golden yellow and seems to glow. This perennial is a sun lover but if you want foliage color in partial shade, plant either Geranium macrorrhizum (Big Root Geranium) or one of the Geranium cantabrigiense cultivars. Their leaves become tinged with red and purple.

Chrysanthemum 'Bronze Elegans'; late fall blooming perennial; 18405 fence bed' 10/22/09

Chrysanthemum ‘Bronze Elegans’in my garden in mid-October

Fall color: Euphorbia polychroma, Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii', Thalictrum orientale foliage, deadheads of Veronicastrum; 18405 west bed; 10/17/11

Aconitum carmichaelii ‘Arendsii’ with foliage of Thalictrum orientale in my garden in mid-OCtober

I also love the anticipation of waiting for the perennials that wait to bloom until fall. Many of the old-fashioned chrysanthemums don’t even begin blooming until October and then continue on into November. They are unbelievably hardy and spread so that you can always share with a friend. Another favorite fall bloomer of mine is Aconitum (Monkshood). The fall blooming species (there are some that bloom in June and July) are tall, usually four to six feet, with dark blue flowers at the top of the stalk.

What do you look forward to in your fall garden?