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Fall Seasonal Ideas: Decorating Flower Gardens

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When developing a flower garden combination, landscape plants that add colors or characteristics beyond the growing season can make good autumn decorating ideas. Garden sellers and horticultural professionals refer to these plant features as “added value” or “extending the season.”

Decorate your garden according to the fall mood!

Plants that extend the season will have colors or characteristics that attract interest in the garden after the traditional growing season. In climates where the growing season is short, early spring, fall and winter interest makes growing these types of plants more worthwhile.

Plants with added value have multiple characteristics or colors during and after the growing season. For many gardeners, this is seen as getting added value for the money and labor spent planting. A plant that feeds the birds in summer then decorates an autumn garden with new color has added value, one example of a seasonal decorative idea.

Fall-colored perennials

Mums, pumpkins and corn stalks are easy traditional fall ideas but perennials that turn autumn colors also extend seasonal interest in flower gardens. Although many ideas will require planning for next year, it is worth the effort to find perennials that have spent summer blooming in the garden then continue with autumn and winter interest.

Rosa rugosa plants have large orange or red hips after blooming and are a good value for a garden. Rose hips make an excellent colorful display from inside looking out onto a garden otherwise dormant during winter weather.

The green leaves of perennial Geranium, when hit with late season nighttime temperatures, will turn colors with tinges of orange and red. Cultivars like Geranium ‘Rozanne’ added in summer can still be enjoyed in autumn gardens.

Joe Pye Weed, botanically called Eupatorium, and Ligularia bloom middle through late summer then develop dried seed heads in fall, providing food for birds. Gardeners find dried plant material, even broken plant stems, useful in attracting wildlife to gardens in winter.

Fall shrubs

Shrubs provide a variety of fall and winter interest combinations after summer gardens are done flowering. These examples are frequently seen as an economic value and easily found at plant nurseries:

Euonymus alatus, aptly named burning bush, is a shrub with excellent, easily identified red fall color. Stems are corky and winged, making an interesting winter display when dusted with snow.

Berberis thumbergii, commonly called barberry, has red and purple fall color and fruit in winter. Look for plant cultivars with less thorns and the appropriate mature size for the garden.

Hamamelis virginiana is witchhazel with fragrant late summer yellow flowers. The leaves turn yellow in fall.

Japanese maples and elderberry shrubs have highly dissected leaves. A combination of leaf colors and persistent fruit will extend seasonal interest and add value to any flower garden.

Fall decorating ideas can be as simple as pansies planted along a sidewalk. But extending the garden display into cold months with winter interest takes some planning. There are many flowering plants that make good autumn landscapes.

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