Fall is probably my favorite time in the garden. It’s got cooler weather, the rich abundance of harvest time, and the blooms of so many wonderful plants coming into their peak. It’s a relaxing time for me. In spring, I feel like I have a to-do list 10 miles long, and I never have time to get to it all. In summer, I’m always worrying about drought and keeping up with weeding. But in the fall, I just get to relax and enjoy it all. Here are some things I’m loving in my fall garden right now. What about you? What’s making you happy this autumn?
American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana, Zones 6–10) is a shrub you just don’t notice most of the year. The flowers are rather small and the leaves unexciting, but as summer winds down, it puts on one of my favorite shows of all time—each stem lined with clusters of vivid purple berries. It thrives in part shade, and I love the way it brings color to shade gardens that tend to be pretty heavy on spring blooms. This species is also native to a wide swath of eastern North America, which is a great plus. For some reason, the Asian species of beautyberry are sometimes more often sold in nurseries, but I think the native one is the most attractive.
Zinnia haageana (annual) has been blooming all summer, but it really is peaking now. I love the rich autumnal mix of colors in the flowers. I love all zinnias, but my regular garden zinnias (Zinnia elegans, annual) have gotten to the ugly stage, with lots of mildew on their leaves, while this little beauty is still looking fantastic.
Roses! I love roses, and so many of them really seem to peak at the end of the season. This is ‘Strike It Rich’, which is beautiful and very resistant to disease.
Rosa rugosa (Zones 2–9) is one of the toughest roses out there, and it blooms right up to the end of the year. The simple flowers are fragrant and much loved by my neighbor’s honeybees.
I haven’t had frost in the garden yet, but if I’m lucky, I’ll get it like this again—perfectly gilding a newly opened rose. Frost signals the end of the season for most plants, but often it does so beautifully!
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