Extend the color in your garden
Although frost, cold temperatures and the growing season's end have already caused most of the flowers in my garden to fade, there are a few cold-tolerant perennials still blooming. I'm always amazed that this small handful of stalwart plants continues to flower in my garden, sometimes as late as Thanksgiving. There's no reason you can't have a colorful garden well into the fall.
I've written about asters, boltonia, goldenrod and other late-blooming perennials in previous columns, but I'd like to introduce you to a few super late-bloomers that will fill your Western Pennsylvania garden with color longer than any other plants out there.
• Monkshood (Aconitum species) bears glossy, green leaves and tall, upright stems. Flowers are born in groups on the ends of the stems, with some cultivars flowering later in the season than others. All parts of this plant are poisonous, so don't plant it if curious pets or toddlers frequent your garden. Flowers can be blue, purple, white, yellow or cream, depending on the cultivar. Many selections grow so tall that staking might be necessary as the plant grows. Mine are just beginning to flower in late October. Monkshood looks beautiful when combined with fall-blooming anemones like ‘September Charm' and ‘Honorine Jobert.' Monkshood grows in full to partial shade.
• Toad lilies (Tricyrtis species) are stunning and unusual flowers. With cultivars that range in height from 1 to 4 feet, toad lilies bear inch-wide blooms in pink, white and purple with various splotches and markings on the petals. My toad lilies (T. hirta) were given to me by a gardener in Arkansas, and they begin to bloom in mid-October. They are 3 feet in height and have lavender flowers with dark-purple markings. One interesting cultivar, called ‘Lightning Strike,' has gold leaves edged in dark green and bears lavender flowers at each leaf node. Toad lilies prefer full to partial sun.
• Montauk daisies (Nipponanthemum nipponicum) have been in full bloom in my garden as late as Christmas. The flowers of the Montauk daisy have white petals with bright-yellow centers and look much like the blooms of the summer-flowering Shasta daisy. The foliage of Montauk daisies, however, is a bit more succulent and leathery and can reach a good 3 feet in height. The flowers are frost-tolerant and can withstand extremely cold temperatures. The only real maintenance this plant needs is a heavy pinching in early summer to keep its growth compact and delay the flowering (much like a chrysanthemum). In early June, simply use a pair of sharp pruners or your fingers to remove the top third to half of each stem. Plant Montauk daisies in full sun where they'll thrive even in drought conditions.
• Yellow bleeding heart (Corydalis lutea) has fern-like, bluish-green foliage with clusters of small, yellow flowers that rise up out of the foliage. This perennial self sows nicely and quickly forms a small colony. Its foliage remains green through many hard frosts and doesn't die back fully until winter has completely set in. It thrives in shade gardens and bears near-continual blooms from early April straight through Thanksgiving in my garden.
Enjoy a long season of bloom in your perennial garden by adding some of these beauties to your beds and borders. All are available at most local, independent garden centers.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Brown skipping voluntary offseason workouts
- MLB notebook: Gennett’s shower injury could put him on DL
- Penguins sell out Game 3, extend streak to 376 games
- UPMC is the target of nihilistic envy
- Pittsburgh Public Theater taking on Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’
- The gathering storm: An IRS defeat
- NHL notebook: Sharks, McLellan part ways after 7 years
- Deputies arrest couple, seize 45 bricks of heroin in Penn Hills
- Don’t watch till the race starts
- My takes on the news
- Doctors incorporate ideas for retirement planning into new book