A BIT OF COLOR — Flowers are one way to add autumn interest to your garden. Montauk daisies usually bloom at the end of September, but they bloomed even later this year.
SPRINGVILE — Many of us assume that, once summer is over, our gardens have to be boring. But, if you take these tips from Buffalo resident Jennifer Guercio, you can add some pizzazz to your garden, during the autumn and winter.
Guercio’s gardens have been shown in Better Homes & Gardens and Garden Gate magazines and have been included in listings for the Garden Walk Buffalo and the National Garden Festival.
If you like flowers, plant perennials that bloom in autumn.
The Montauk daisy was at its peak when I visited Guercio’s garden, in mid-October. Montauk daisies generally bloom at the end of September, but they were late this year, because the weather has been so warm.
Montauk daisies have a lot going for them, other than their beautiful flowers. The leaves have a lovely, light scent. When I smelled the leaves, they reminded me of soap.
These flowers are easy to propagate. Cut off a woody stem, stick it in the ground and watch it grow.
Montauk daisies do get heavy, though, and you may have to support the plant, so it does not break.
Other great plant choices for autumn, that we have talked about before, include asters, turtlehead chelone, Joe-Pye weed, callicarpa (beauty berry), lespedeza (a pea shrub), heptacodium (seven sons tree) and ginko tree.
Dried flowers are another way to add interest to your autumn or winter garden. Guercio has many astilbes. Though the color of the flower has faded, the flower still adds texture to the garden.
Guercio also cuts the flowers and uses them in dried arrangements. These arrangements look welcoming at her front door, but you can use them anywhere in your landscape.
Other dried materials you might consider are canna lilies, which get very tall. Some people like to decorate with corn stalks, at this time of year. Guercio said that she has used canna lily stalks in the same way.
Don’t think only of flowers for your garden; think of color. “I try to do as many evergreens as possible,” Guercio said.
Move beyond pine trees and arborvitae. Ivy and rhododendron stay green, all year. We think of rhododendron as a spring plant, because it gets magnificent blossoms at that time of year, but its green leaves also look great in autumn and winter.
Ornamental grasses are another good choice, for adding color. One variety is a yellow grass called acorus gramineus ogon.
Other plants that keep leaf color into fall are huecheras. The National Garden Bureau has named 2012 the “Year of the Heuchera.” These plants come in many different colors and keep their hues into fall.
Guercio, a painter, said that she likes to arrange plants as if they were paints on a canvas. “Chartreuse is a nice, base color,” she said, pointing at her heucheras. “Pink and red and purple go well with it. It makes a ni ce arrangement.”
Some plants change color in the fall. Guercio has hostas that are now bright yellow and add impact to the landscape, perfect for the autumn.
Look for plants that add architectural interest to your garden. There will not be much color in the garden, when snow comes, so you want plants that will provide interest with their form. Look for plants that do not die back completely.
Ornamental grasses that add color to the garden in autumn will look lovely, sprinkled with snow in the winter.
Another suggestion is a trumpet vine. Guercio’s trumpet vine has large, woody stems that look as if they were braided together to form the trunk. When the leaves fall off, Guercio trims the branches, forming a large, beautiful umbrella shape.
Don’t let your garden stagnate. Take steps now, to give it autumn and winter interest.Connie Oswald Stofko is publisher of Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com
, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email