We usually look up to the trees for the spectacle of fall foliage color but there’s plenty happening down low. Ornamental grasses in autumn are, of course, amazing – I think I’ll give them a post of their own. But there are a few perennials that consistently deliver good fall color instead of turning to brown, crunchy paper.
For the shade to part-shade garden, Polygonatum odoratumthen ‘Variegatum’ is a plant for three seasons. Arching stems
spring forth in, well, Spring, with fresh green and white variegated
foliage. Pairs of little creamy bell-like flowers dangle from each leaf
node. The foliage looks terrific all summer long, and you get a shot of golden yellow for fall.
More reliable than a tulip poplar! Newport, VA, October 10.
I know I’ve mentioned Amsonia hubrichtii in some past posts, but I just can’t help it. Finally, finally named “Perennial Plant of the Year ” for 2011 by the Perennial Plant Association. Not sure what took so long. Exhibits the best boofy habit of all perennials (somewhat like “floofy”, but rounder). Native to southern/central U.S. and totally drought tolerant. The pale blue star-shaped flowers in late Spring are fairly underwhelming, especially given all the other stuff going on at the time. The fine, needle-like foliage adds a wonderful soft texture throughout the summer. As the days shorten and the nights cool down, it begins to glow…first a soft gold, and then adds bronze and apricot to the mix – basically a color twin of Sporobolis heterolepis (Prairie Dropseed, previously described in a GP post).
The first flush of gold, just getting going in our garden last week…
In full glory. Late fall at Chanticleer (Radnor, PA).
Some cultivars of Hosta, such as ‘Sum & Substance’, reliably produce gold fall color, as do some ferns. Any others you’d like to add to list?