Plants that still look good in late autumn

– Posted in: FAQ, What's up/blooming
21 comments

The mums and the last of the double colchicums are still throwing out new blooms, but after a hard freeze they look like wet facial tissue. All but the stubbornest trees have dropped their leaves, and most perennials, if they have any leaves at all, are looking either yellow, brown, or mushy. But there are still some plants that are looking great. Yes, great!

'Cerise Queen' yarrow put out a fresh flush of foliage this autumn that looks as vibrant as it does in spring.

'Cerise Queen' yarrow put out a fresh flush of foliage this autumn that looks as vibrant as it does in spring.

'Tapestry' heucherella as seen through Siberian iris foliage. 'Tapestry' was a trial plant from Terra Nova Nursery.

'Tapestry' heucherella as seen through Siberian iris foliage. 'Tapestry' was a trial plant from Terra Nova Nursery.

'Pistache' heuchera, a trial plant from Skagit Nurseries.

'Pistache' heuchera, a trial plant from Skagit Nurseries.

'Mahogany' heuchera, another trial plant from Terra Nova Nurseries.

'Mahogany' heuchera, another trial plant from Terra Nova Nurseries.

Most foxgloves are biennial. I started these from seed this spring, and if they make it through the winter they will bloom next year.

Most foxgloves are biennial. I started these from seed this spring, and if they make it through the winter they will bloom next year.

'Blackout' heuchera, a trial plant from Skagit Gardens, smolders.

'Blackout' heuchera, a trial plant from Skagit Gardens, smolders.

Another trial plant from Terra Nova nursery, 'Lunar Glow' bergenia shines forth with several autumnal tints.

Another trial plant from Terra Nova nursery, 'Lunar Glow' bergenia shines forth with several autumnal tints.

Carex conica 'Marginata' contrasts pleasingly with Proven Winners' Blackcurrant heuchera, both trial plants from last fall.

Carex conica 'Marginata' contrasts pleasingly with Proven Winners' Blackcurrant heuchera, both trial plants from last fall.

Though the garden certainly looks brown and tattered, little jewels of foliage can be found by the careful observer. We’ve had several nights in the low twenties (-7C), but these plants hardly look affected. As long as the ground hasn’t frozen solid, there will still be reasons to venture forth on mild days and hunt for surprises.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In its own way, frost may be one of the most beautiful things to happen in your garden all year . . . Don’t miss it. Like all true beauty, it is fleeting. It will grace your garden for but a short while this morning. . . . For this moment, embrace frost as the beautiful gift that it is.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Cory November 18, 2008, 3:07 pm

Before this year, I had always dismissed Heuchera as the ‘not as pretty step-sister’ to Tiarella. How wrong I was! Heuchera “Lime Rickey” out performed Tiarella “Running Tapestry” and Tiarella wherryi in my garden, foliage wise. And here we are in Massachusetts in mid-November and the Heuchera foliage is still going strong!

jh November 3, 2008, 7:13 pm

Yarrow is one of my favorites here in Colorado and it does get invasive but only in the most favorable of conditions–lots of water etc. I don’t care though, and use the flowers for teas and balms.

jh
bodanutritiontips

Curtis November 3, 2008, 4:19 pm

opps seems like my last comment had my old domain its updated now.

Curtis November 3, 2008, 4:17 pm

I absolutely love Heuchera. Kind of one of those plants I tried this year. But now am hooked and will be looking for new varieties this spring.

Theresa/GardenFreshLiving October 31, 2008, 1:22 am

The yarrow foliage is so pretty. I bet the flowers are great too.
I love yarrow, but it gets very invasive here in Southern California. Do you have that problem with it too? Once established, it can take over a section of the garden like mint.

Annie in Austin October 30, 2008, 4:34 pm

Wintry weather came pretty early to your garden, Kathy – I remember being glad to see yarrow foliage, too – and maybe the newer, short iris foliage used to stay pretty green for much of the winter.

Love that ‘Tapesty’ heucherella, but bet it would not like Austin. I have a palace purple that lives but is no larger than when planted 4 years ago.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

commonweeder October 29, 2008, 3:17 pm

Last night’s snow won’t last long. I’ll have to take another walk through the garden and look at my two heucheras.

Kathy Purdy October 29, 2008, 8:31 am

Kim, I doubt my garden looks better than yours. These photos were very careful selections from the larger landscape.

Jim, it is flurrying right now and the lawn has that “dusted with confectioners sugar” look. We are an outlying area but only about 1,000 ft. The higher elevations of 1200-1500ft got more snow.

Glad to introduce you to a few new plants, James. That’s what garden blogging is all about!

James Mann October 29, 2008, 7:29 am

I love plants that look great without the need for flashy flowers. Thanks for the images and the names.

I see a few of the plants you are showing here when I am on my walks through town but I didn’t know their names.

I think I would like to add a few of them to our backyard garden next year.

Jim October 28, 2008, 11:16 pm

My mother in Binghamton tells me that they’re expecting 3″ of snow and possibly up to as much as 6″ in the outlying areas. I believe you qualify as an outlying area! Stay warm.

tedb October 27, 2008, 10:19 pm

That bergenia has piqued my interest, I’ll keep my eye open for it when it comes on the market.

Perennials geraniums are have a great fall for this year with many turning shades of red orange and yellow. Brookside, wlassovianum and macrorhizum in particular are good. Hellebores are also looking very green and shiny.

Tonight they’re forcasting 20 in the city so that means colder for us – 18, 16, less? All I know is the garden will be differant when I wake up.

Cindy October 27, 2008, 8:31 pm

I’m glad there are still some beauties to be found in your garden. Those heucheras and heucherellas are all lovely … I’ve never had one last more than a couple of months here. I hope your next foray into the garden brings more happy surprises.

Kathy Purdy October 27, 2008, 1:36 pm

Gail, ‘Pistache’ has some villosa heritage. Not sure about the others. Karen, ‘Lunar Glow’ is a bergenia. I meant to include that in the caption. I’ll fix it.

Karen October 27, 2008, 1:27 pm

Love the lovely heucheras! I had some in my previous garden but don’t know if they’d do well here. I need to try. Is that ‘Lunar Glow’ a bergenia?

Mr. McGregor's Daughter October 27, 2008, 9:44 am

Thank goodness for Heucheras! Although somebody (I can’t remember who) complained about seeing nothing but photos of them in January. I like the foliage of that Tiarella too. The colder weather has brought out more of the dark tones on my Tiarella. Too bad it’ll all be buried under snow soon. (Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.)

Kim October 27, 2008, 8:23 am

That yarrow is gorgeous – I think I ‘d grow it just for foliage! And your heucheras also look good. I’d have to say your Cold Climate garden is beating my Maryland one right about now when it comes to looks.

Sue Dawson October 27, 2008, 12:26 am

Here in southeast Nebraska, we have had one 32 degree night, and are expecting 26-28 degrees tonight. I hope I have some good looking foliage like yours once this happens. I have so many plants still blooming, and am sad, but resigned to let fall be here.

Gail October 26, 2008, 10:30 pm

Heucheras are wonderful looking plants and they look great in your garden. I have good luck with any that have villosa genetic stock…they can take the heat and humidity. Gail

Kathy Purdy October 26, 2008, 10:00 pm

Yes, eliz, most of the heucheras have not had their trial by fire. We will have to see how many are still around next June. A lot of them get heaved during mud season.

Dee/reddirtramblings.com October 26, 2008, 9:42 pm

Kathy, my garden resembles yours. A lot of things look sorry, but some are still quite beautiful in their fall finery. Thanks for sharing.~~Dee

eliz October 26, 2008, 9:32 pm

Beautiful foliage, Kathy! I have had mixed luck with heucheras. 1 or 2 have not returned after winter.