It’s fall season in Florida and while everyone else may be buying mums and asters in other parts of the country, here is a snippet of what is blooming in our yard. Yes, we do have a few mums that have popped up in the front yard but there are still a lot of other blooms and vivid colors when we walk around the house. It is a gentle reminder that when many of the flowers in the rain and butterfly garden have become dormant, there are still plenty of color remaining and there are even more beautiful blossoms just opening up such as the Gay Feather. Dean planted Liatris spicata in front of the dining room window so we can see it as we sit at the farm table for dinner. The Liatris is in a mixed planting of assorted coneflowers (Echinacea) and prairie grasses (Bluestem) that Dean refers to as his “Homage to the Midwest Prairie”. Liatris spicata makes a great cut flower to bring inside for arranging and may require some staking when blooming. Perfect timing for the fall holidays. Hope seeing the Florida fall blooms in our yard provides you with a bit of sunshine in your day.
“If you would be happy for a lifetime, grow Chrysanthemums.” (a Chinese philosopher) It is that time of year for Mums (Chrysanthemum)! Mums are the official harbingers of fall and the wide assortment of colors makes it difficult not to include them in your fall display, either as potted plants or in your landscape beds. The bloom color can liven up a doorway, highlight a walkway or provide an accent around a mailbox. When shopping for Mums, don’t purchase plants that already have all of their flowers out. Buy the ones that have lots of buds that will pop open in the next couple of days, so that the blooms will last longer!
Fire Bush (Hamelia patens) is a tropical shrub that happily lives in our rain garden. Hardly a morning goes by that we don’t see a hummingbird or two fluttering around the prolific, red, tubular flowers! We bought this plant at a local farmer’s market a couple of years ago and although it was hit by frost and cut back once, this perennial performer does not disappoint. The shrub is about 8′ tall and makes a great accent in the garden.
Little Bunny Fountain Grass (Pennisetum ‘Little Bunny’) is a dwarf variety of Fountain Grass that blooms every fall. Ornamental grasses are a great way to liven up the fall landscape. Dean uses a mixture of ornamental grasses and native prairie grasses in the landscape to add fall color and texture to the landscape plantings. Native grasses are used in the rain garden and the ornamental grasses are used as accents throughout. Some of Dean’s favorite ornamental grasses are Porcupine Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’), Zebra Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’) and Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’). Dean’s true favorites are the prairie grasses and he is always researching which grasses are native for the local area. His favorites for Central Florida include Purple Love Grass (Eragrostis spectabilis), Chalky Bluestem (Andropogon capillipes) and Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris). No matter where you live, there is a native grass that will perform well and can easily be incorporated into a low maintenance landscape.
Coneflowers (Echinacea) have really taken off over the last 5 years and there is a great assortment of varieties available at garden centers and big box retailers. Mixing colors, heights and types of bloom is easy and when in bloom, bring the whole area life. Make sure to let them go to seed since the finches love to feast on this food source! You can also mix coneflowers with Gay Feather (Liatris), Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum) and grasses for a season long mixed border.
The Cannas (Canna) are blooming! Sometimes referred to Canna Lilly, but not a true lilly, these are Dean’s mom’s favorites and were rescued from a neighbor. Cannas make a strong vertical statement and the blooms are just amazing. Planted in mass just above the gabion walls, these Canna also add a bold texture to the landscape with their coarseness. Canna can also be planted along the water’s edge for a naturalistic planting. The versatility of these plants also make them a great option for mixed container plantings. Cannas are easy to grow and there are also some great native Cannas available.
It sounds like it is remaining warm around most of the country but I am sure it is cold somewhere up north so hopefully this gives those who dread the long cold winters a little hope that spring is right around the corner.