The Glory of a Fall Garden

Helianthus maximiliana.

Walking through my rain revived gardens these past couple of weeks, it finally hit me what makes the fall in the garden ,its most beautiful time of year. For one, many of the plants are much larger than those that bloom in the spring. Instead of sheets of blooming bulbs, phlox, cold hardy Delosperma and smaller flowering trees and shrubs, many other medium sized plants, the fall garden is all about big grasses, towering perennials and brilliant fall foliage.

In the Intermountain , Southwest and western Great Plains,  the summer rains have brought the native summer and fall blooming plants into their full glory. This also coincides with the hummingbirds’ southerly migration down to southern most AZ , NM, TX and Mexico . Not coincidentally, this brings their favorite nectar sources like the Hummingbird Mint (Agastache), Hummingbird Trumpet (Zauschneria) and Sage (Salvia) into flower. Other natives  plants like Perennial Sunflower (Helianthus), Asters,  Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium), Gloriosa Daisy (Rudbeckia), Goldrod (Solidago), Vernonia and all the incredible warm season grasses like Muhly (Muhlenbergia),  Sprobolus, Prairie Switch Grass (Panicum), Little Blue Stem (Schizachrium),  Grama (Bouteloua)  also come into their full glory.  Many Old World shrubs  and perennials like Russian Sage (Perovskia), Butterfly Bush (Buddlleia) and re-blooming English Lavender and grasses like Chinese Maiden Grass (Miscanthus) and Fountain Grass (Pennisetum) throw their flowers into the ring as well.

Russian Sage, agastache, helianthus and zinnia.

I’ve been trying for many, many years to convince gardeners, who don’t already appreciate the glory of fall, the flowers don’t need to stop when early summer has past. Yes, fall is more than just Mums, flowering cabbage, kale and pansies. These are wonderful plants, but can be worked in with many other fall blooming perennials for an incredible effect.

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  • Los Lunas Form of Giant Sacaton Grass Sporobolus wrightii Windbreaker

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  • Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition PP#22,048

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  • White Cloud Muhly Grass Muhlenbergia capillaris White Cloud

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4 thoughts on “The Glory of a Fall Garden”

  • Dianne

    I bought a number of the above-mentioned plants at your nursery three years ago, while we were building our house. I placed them all over a mound in the pasture below the house, with some rocks for accent and mulch to finish. Once they were established that fall I NEVER watered the mound again.

    Most of the plants have absolutely prospered, many are spreading into the nearby pasture. The mound looks absolutely fabulous, even after years of total neglect. We're starting to landscape next to the house now and I'll be back in the spring for more of your plants.

    • David Salman

      I'm so pleased to hear of your success using our durable High Country Garden plants. The Maximilian's sunflower is particularly rugged. That's the secret of a colorful landscape; using regionally adapted plants for your area.

  • Brandi

    I have been reading your blog for some time. I live in Lubbock, TX, and am slowly transforming our little yard into a xeric landscape because I love these hardy, native plants. They are just as beautiful - if not more so - than flower gardens that require a lot of water and don't grow so well in our tumultuous climate! It makes me happy to use native plants that don't require a lot of our resources, especially in this awful drought. Your blog has given me a lot of great ideas, and I look forward to slowly adding plants as my budget allows. In your picture above, what are the beautiful pink and purple blooming plants?? Is that salvia? It's just lovely! Thank you so much.

    • David Salman

      Thanks for sharing with us how your xeriscape is doing. TX has had an unbelievable drought, even more severe than here in New Mexico. Your totally on the right track and your yard will look a lot better than many when the rains return.

      The plant combination in the last photo is Agastache (hummingbird mint) and Perovskia (Russian Sage) at sunset. The golden light was extraordinary on those deeply colored flowers. Both are excellent in Lubbock.

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