Sometimes, the best things come last. Dessert, for example, comes last. So does the weekend, the grand finale at a fireworks display, and the person who finishes a marathon only through sheer guts and determination. You don’t know whether the game is won or lost until the end. These things are anticipated perhaps more than anything along the journey to get to them- and the last flowers of the summer are no exception.
The “Last bloomers” have been waiting, biding their time until the riot of summer color has passed, to create a little fanfare of their own. We forget about these plants when anticipating the autumn’s chill, thinking mostly of the changing color of the trees, and are consistently surprised by how much color and excitement they bring to the garden.
Below are seven of our favorite “last bloomers”. Try some in your garden to extend the season!
1) Asters. There is an Aster for practically every situation, from tall to short and in a whole range of colors. Some of them are even native. Plant the taller ones behind something sturdy as they often have bare legs and tend to flop.
2) Russian Sage. (Perovskia) This perennial is almost a shrub, it grows so quickly. An airy plant that is covered in small purple flowers, it compliments many late season perennials.
3) Chrysanthemum. (Chrysanthemums formerly Dendrathema) While most people know the annual Chrysanthemums, do you know that there are perennial Chrysanthemums as well? They are happy with a little shade or full sun, and come in several different colors. Give them a try!
4) Montauk Daisy. (Nipponanthemum nipponicum). This plant is covered in large daisies as late as October, and is the size of a small shrub, despite the fact that it dies down to the ground every winter. To keep it from getting leggy, cut back to about a foot tall at the end of June.
5) Sedum “Autumn Joy”, etc. A plant that has interesting foliage in the summer, pink flowers in the fall and flat, brown seed heads that persist into winter, Sedum “Autumn Joy”, “Autumn Fire” and “Neon”, among others, are a great value!
6) PeeGee Hydrangeas. (Hydrangea paniculata) While this Hydrangea is more of a late summer bloomer than a fall bloomer, as the fall progresses the flowers slowly take on a pinkish blush that gets richer as they get older. They are quite common, but their old fashioned charm is hard to beat.
7) Pansies. Yes, that’s right, pansies! Although synonymous with spring, Pansies also like fall weather. The cool nights and warm days aren’t all that different from spring, and they like the cooler weather so much more than the summer heat!
There are many more plants that can extend your garden’s season of flowers, including mid-season bloomers that carry on until frost. And then there are the plants with great fall foliage… Don’t get us started on those!! (Until next week, anyway.)