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  • Neils lunceford

Planting for Fall Color

Summer is coming to a close, with autumn -- and its frost and early season snows -- hovering

close by. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to walk away from your garden.

While many blooms have faded and others will wilt with the first frost, there are a variety of annuals and perennials you can plant that will continue to flower into the cooler season. Add some shrubs known for their autumn color to complement your garden’s late-season blooms.

A number of our favorite annuals and container plants -- such as marigolds, petunias and geraniums -- won’t tolerate frost. But pansies and violas are hardy plants whose blooms are ever vibrant through the early frosts and first few snows. Deadhead these flowers to ensure continual blooms as the nights get cold.

And, of course, with autumn comes the chrysanthemum. Plant them each fall for bursts of bright, contrasting colors. Mums range from creamy white to vibrant, sunny yellow to saturated reds, pinks and purples. Try planting yellow mums in your garden to reflect the aspens’ gold or burgundy to contrast it. You can also plant them in containers to enjoy them by your front door, on your patio or even inside your home.

Some perennials to consider as you look for late-season blooms include asters, daisies, black-eyed susans, coneflower and poppies.

Many sedums also bloom at this time of the year, but the upright sedums, in particular, are known for their early fall blooms. Look for upright sedums such as Autumn Joy, Fall Magic and Ruby Glow.

Visit your local nursery for a complete list of perennials that will flower in late summer and early autumn.

Don’t overlook shrubs, as you plant for autumn color. Though the leaves of most shrubs will lose their green with the shorter days and cooler nights, they won’t necessarily turn to eye-catching colors.

Among those known for their warm autumn colors, are the golden currant and Peking cotoneaster, which turn shades of red, orange and yellow.

A number of Native shrubs turn a variety of reds and yellows, too. The leaves of the Native chokecherry and Western river birch turn yellow, rock spirea turns a deep russet, and red-twig dogwood a beautiful red.

Planting for hardy, late-season blooms and colorful shrubs is sure to add enough warmth to your landscape to hold winter at bay.

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