Fall Sky #1

The weekend presented a shining example of Fall’s excellence – beautiful weather and crisp, clear skies.  Although the majority of foliage has yet to turn, there were examples of Fall’s distinct beauty in the many perennials, shrubs, and ornamental grasses.

Fall Clematis #2

In addition to late flowering perennials, like the heralded and much admired  Fall Blooming Clematis, grasses, perennial seed heads, and berries provide both understated beauty and interest.  A few weeks back we discussed the importance and logic behind deadheading in “Grateful Deadheading.”  There are, of course, many good reasons to deadhead, but we also discussed the option of not deadheading, specifically if the plant bares decorative, colorful berries, seed heads or seed pods.  We recommended that these be left, in tact, until late in the season, if not through Winter.  See, deadheading isn’t exactly a must, and many start the process as soon as the garden starts to look tired and spent.  Some do it solely based on aesthetics, which is ok but not totally necessary.  Some of these berries, seed heads, pods, and even stems offer much-needed sustenance and shelter to our fine feathered friends.  So, in addition to offering late season color, interest, texture, sound, and movement, you can help sustain wildlife and enjoy their escapades from the comfort of a window while your heart swells with pride and joy as your yard becomes the favored neighborhood buffet.

Black Eyed Susan and  “Autumn Joy” Sedum offer late season color and ornamental seed heads that help liven the landscape in Fall and Winter.

Likewise,  Big Bluestem’s arching foliage features interesting seed heads, sometimes referred to as “turkey feet”.   Purple Maiden Grass’s red-orange foliage takes center stage with showy seed heads that persist well into Winter.  Feather Reed Grass offers bronze flowers that remain visible throughout Winter.

Viburnum, Winterberry, Dogwood, and Holly offer decorative, showy berries that punctuate the Fall and sometimes Winter landscape with brilliant color and interest.  They are also favored by birds and other wildlife.

While we look to the trees and depend on them for their distinct Fall displays, we tend to forget that they’re not alone in their quest to awe – perennials, ornamental grasses, and shrubs play important supporting roles in bringing color and interest to the Fall and Winter landscapes.

“A tangerine and russet cascade

of kaleidoscope leaves

Creates a tapestry of autumn magic

Upon the emerald carpet of fading summer.”

-Judith A. Lindberg

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney