Saturday, October 1, 2011

Great Fall Color

There is a saying,"You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Well, I hope that isn't true! I have been gardening for years and I still have lot's to learn.

At the moment, my garden is 95% perennials, trees and shrubs. Using these resources, I have managed to create a fairly continuous show of color with two exceptions: 

1. There is a bit of a lull right after spring bulbs have finished and the perennials haven't really kicked in. 

2. And in late August, early September, there is the second lull. The phlox and rudbeckia are finishing then. My roses are back with a fresh round of pretty pinks, and the sedum and turtlehead are just starting to bloom. Still, in comparison with August's riot of color, September is quiet. 

Next year I would like to liven up my fall garden, without having to rely completely on fall mums and ornamental cabbages. With the eye to the future, I have been looking around me for inspiration. 

I have come back with one question for myself: Why is it you don't have any annuals? 

In late August, early September annuals really come into their own. Fall frosts are looming and nearing the end of their days, annuals go full throttle.

Looking at beds of annuals, I learned another thing too. A single plant in a large garden doesn't cut it. Annuals look best planted in drifts.

 Brampton Park

Hibiscus 'Mahogany Splendor' (Hibiscus acetosella) is the tall burgundy plant on the right.

Ageratum 'Blue Mist'

Rudbeckia 'Irish eyes'


This is a garden in an another Brampton park. Mixed in with the perennials are ribbons 
of colorful annuals.

Red Salvia, 'Salvia splendens' 

Salvia 'Victoria Blue'

The magic rainbow of colors in the leaves of a Canna Lily

What one would think is an outrageous combination of colors, works in the leaves of this Coleus. 

Perennial Fountain Grass, Pennisetum alopecuroids

These vivid orange and red zinnias look great with perennial grasses and hosta as a backdrop.

Purple Fountain Grass, Pennisetum setaceum is an annual here.

Isn't this a great mix of fall colors? Rusty red Coleus, bright orange Geraniums and burgundy Oxalis.



  1. Gorgeous! In my own garden, I have to limit my use of annuals to a few pots, and even there the puppies dig them out! The garden beds, such as they are, are quite root-bound with our trees and don't get enough sun. Also, our dogs would probably annihilate any small plants. As it is, I have quite a battle compromising between their needs to romp and play and my own need to have a semblance of a garden. Can't wait to see what you do in your stunning garden next year!

  2. First of all, fantastic photography, I felt like diving right in. As to the planting of annuals, I use them as color bridges through the hottest part of the summer and couldn't imagine gardening without my coleus, sweet potato vine and zinnias.

  3. So many lovely flowers. The zinnias are delightful, the "Victoria Blue" salvia, the coleus. So many beauties to choose from. I tend to agree with you about the benefits of planting annuals in drifts, I'm rather new to growing annuals but think this is one of the best tips to remember.

  4. What a lovely series of photos. They are putting a smile in my heart!

    I have those same 'lulls' as well. And I'm more like 99 percent perennials. I have asked myself that very same question (why don't I plant more annuals), but I'm afraid the answers are:

    1) I'm afraid they will take more water than I have time to give them (because maybe their roots don't go down as far as they would need) and

    2) I'd rather pay my money for things that will come back. (Does that make me a cheapskate? LOL)

  5. The key is your observation that annuals look best in big drifts and long ribbons. Once I figured that out, I liked using some annuals in and around and weaving through my other plants. Your pictures are beautiful!

  6. I hadn't thought of it but you're right. The annuals in my garden are still going strong right now despite the cooler temperatures and rain while most of the perennials have packed it in. Something to keep in mind when moving plants around next spring.

  7. I don't use many annuals but have already written a note to myself to use more coleus next summer. My annual pentas love the cooler, moist weather and provide nectar for the hummers. I grow perennial ageratum here. It's much taller than the annual.

  8. YEAH! Love all of this great information on annuals...which I have been needing to freshen up on and get in my garden!!!!

  9. Jennifer you are so right ! .. I have coleus going nuts still and Dusty Miller is beautiful for neutral back up .. and grasses perennial and annual are perfect .. and I keep learning more and more every year .. try herbs too, like pineapple sage ! the dills and fennel .. beautiful and fragrant : )
    Great post and pictures girl !

  10. Amazing your fall garden is so brilliantly bright and cheerful! All those bright bright colours. Its like second spring.

  11. What a beautiful park Jennifer. Excellent demonstration of the impact of annuals too. I recently figured the same thing out. For a long time annuals seemed like a waste of money since they needed to be replaced yearly but finally I realized nothing else provided that season long color. Sometimes if I don't have room in my beds for them, I fill a container & place it nearby. Easy to move around too.
    p.s. Your fall blog header is gorgeous!

  12. Coleus has to be the perfect fall annual--such gorgeous, vibrant colors in your photos! I admit to being infatuated with colorful annuals, especially in the spring when the garden centers are full of them. I get a little carried away then. But without them, my garden would look pretty sad in August and early September. 'Victoria Blue' is one my favorite standbys--it looks good up until a hard frost.

  13. Hello Jennifer,
    Fantastic Park. I love the colors of de Coleus.
    In our country we only use them indoors. I did not know that he gets any flowers. Have a lovely week.
    Warm wishes Marijke

  14. Hello Jennifer...Beautiful photos of coleus. I like also a fantastic photography at the garden Brampton park with the annuals.
    Good evenig jocelyne

  15. Hey! You fooled me! I came here looking for fall colors. Nevertheless it is a pleasant surprise to see so many beautiful blooms. Like the soft look of the purple fountain grass.


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