Fall is a special time for any gardener. The flowers that have been giving us color all spring and summer are probably looking a bit tired. Or maybe we’re tired of looking at them, too! Either way, as the days shorten and the nights cool down, we’re ready for a change in the garden.
Along come the plants to save the day: pansies, kale or cabbages, mums and asters. These hardy, cool weather plants will bring color to your garden well after the first frost, so why not buy some now and replace the tired marigolds, the leggy petunias and the gangly impatiens with something fresh?
Pansies give a great return for your purchasing dollar. Their bright color and comic “faces” bring a smile to the garden and the gardener. They’re easy to care for and with a little bit of luck you’ll see them re-appear next spring. Why, they may even share some seeds so you’ll have new plants surprising you next spring. Pansies enjoy a sunny spot in your garden, and like rich, loamy soil. Of course, your garden already has soil like that, doesn’t it? Be sure to spray them to keep the deer and bunnies away. They like to snack on those charming flowers.
Flowering kale or cabbage are the garden showstoppers! The outer, ruffled leaves of soft gray-green surround a center that ranges in color from deep, rosy pink to creamy white. And those colors intensify after the first frosty nights! While flowering kale will not survive the cold winters, they certainly love our late fall weather and will grace your garden well into November. Plant them in a sunny spot at the front of your garden where you can enjoy the visual impact they give. They grow 12” - 18” wide!
Asters produce large clusters of daisy-like flowers in an eye-catching shade of blue-purple and pink. Your fall garden, so rich in hues of yellow and orange, will really pop with these complimentary colors. Blooming from August through October, asters grow tall enough to even grace your home when you cut some flowers to bring inside. Asters grow best in a sunny location, but will tolerate a little shade. Asters are perennials, so plant them in good soil about a foot apart. They tolerate dry soil as long as they have plenty of sun. For best results, fertilize them once a month during the summer and enjoy them for years to come.