COLUMN: Forgotten heroes of fall colour

Keeps your garden looking fresh and vibrant in autumn

The long beautiful summer has been great for enjoying our patios and gardens, but it has taken its toll on some of our annuals and perennials.

To keep our gardens looking fresh and vibrant, it’s hard to beat the fantastic perennial rudbeckias, like ‘Goldstrum’,  ‘Early Bird Gold’ and their many new cousins.

One of the best new compact versions is the amazing R. ‘Little Goldstar’ that slips in easily with annuals to reinforce late summer colour.

The many coreopsis varieties, like ‘Zagreb’ and C. grandiflora, have a no quit habit, and when joined by the new red flowering varieties, like C. ‘Big Bang Mercury Rising,’ it fills out the colour range.

The perennial geranium ‘Rozanne’, with its non-stop blue flowers, gives a no quit performance as well and just flows colour until frost, no matter what the weather brings.

If these varieties are not in your garden, now’s a great time to pop them in.

The forgotten heroes of fall colour, however, are the delightful Japanese anemones.  Growing from 2-4 ft. (.6-1.2m), they can be used almost anywhere in the landscape in sun or shade and can be enjoyed as individual plants or used in mass plantings as a ground cover.

Anemones will be significantly taller in the shade as they stretch for a bit of light but will still provide powerful colour.

Their hardiness is rated to at least zone 5 or lower and honestly flower from late July well into October and even November.

They come in shades of pink and white and in both double and single flower forms. Singles tolerate the fall rains far better, but both are very resilient.

This year for the very first time, there are more compact varieties of anemones, enabling them to fit nicely into foreground plantings and containers.

From Blooms Perennials in England, there are three wonderful new varieties that grow only 16 inches (40cm) tall and about 20 inches (50cm) wide.

A ‘Pretty Lady Emily’ has 2½-3 inch clear pink blooms with a bright yellow centre.  It’s very full and busy.

A ‘Pretty Lady Susan’ has 2 inch deep pink single flowers with a nice yellow centre.  It too is full and busy.

A ‘Pretty Lady Diana’ is one of the most attractive with 2 inch single pink flowers with contrasting darker petals for a slight bi-colour effect and again with yellow centres.

Other breeders are developing more compact Japanese anemones, and you’ll see quite a selection next year.

For now, the ‘Lady’ series is a very welcome addition to our late summer and fall gardens.  They love moisture, especially in dry locations, so water well to keep that colour going into late October.