I’d have to say that garden mums dominate my landscape in autumn. Not only do I have a few favorites growing among the other perennials, but each fall I collect a few more for decorative purposes. Alongside the pumpkins, I tuck in several pots of chrysanthemums in the deep hues befitting a fall display.
I daresay I am running out of room to plant the new ones I buy each September or October. Many people treat them as annuals, and some mums are meant to be displayed then tossed, but I find that hard to do. I know our annuals go by the wayside in winter, but we’ve enjoyed them all summer. It’s hard to discard a plant I only acquired a month before.
I love their mounding habit and the flush of bloom that covers the whole plant. Colors like burgundy, gold, pumpkin, scarlet, and coral are hard to resist. I always want one of each.
Mums Steal the Show
In the perennial garden, I have my beloved white mum that has returned for more than 20 years, a pink variety called Clara Curtis, a gorgeous pumpkin-colored mum, a traditional yellow mum, a reddish mum, Tabitha Scarlet, and one still in a container from last year that survived winter, Beverly Bronze. I may try to hold back on buying any more for this year and may instead focus on pansies and violas to go with my pumpkins.
Pansies and violas have those deep, contrasting colors that stir my emotion. And with Halloween coming, it’s easy to find multicolored blooms in combinations of yellow, orange, violet and burgundy. And who can resist those face-like patterns?
Fall Color in Summer
Besides the standard autumn fare, plenty of summer plants could pass for fall flowers. One of my container favorites, Crossandra infundibuliformis Orange Marmalade, does double duty, easing right into fall with its showy orange blooms. I move it from the back patio to the front of the house to coordinate with the “Halloween display.” It blooms nonstop all summer, but can’t tolerate a freeze, so I bring it indoors to overwinter.
The bicolored red-and-yellow blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella, is one of my favorite native plants. Its showy blooms also move right into autumn. Another red and gold native, Mexican hat, Ratibida columnifera, looks right at home in the summer or the fall garden. The pollinator favorite, goldenrod, is among my fall bloomers, but I fear the purple coneflower may have run it over this year. And I do have a couple of native asters that bloom in fall – aromatic aster and silky aster. One blooms so late I always worry it will succumb to a freeze before it blooms.
Well, now I am in the mood to work on that autumn display. Maybe I will buy just one more chrysanthemum.