My name is John Markowski, and I garden in Zone 6B in central New Jersey. My property is inundated with deer, and the soil drains poorly, so I’ve built my garden around ornamental grasses and native perennials. The grasses are shining right now in combination with the slowly declining perennials.
Many gardens peak in the spring with a brilliant display of bright flowers, but this garden looks amazing right now in the fall, with each plant taking on a subtly different hue but all working together to end the year beautifully.
The flowering stems of Miscanthus sinensis (Zones 5–9) have given way to their beautiful silvery ripening seeds. Behind them is a different variety of the same grass, which is just maturing a little later, so there’s a contrast between the different colors of seed spikes.
This miscanthus has bright variegated foliage that contrasts with the darker foliage around it. In the front left is a bit of pink from obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana, Zones 3–9), a wonderful and very long-blooming native perennial.
Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale, Zones 3–8) has colorful daisy flowers in shades of yellow, orange, or red. But here, after the showy petals have fallen, it takes on a subtler beauty of the central yellow ball maturing slowing into ripened seeds. Note that the common name for this native perennial is a bit misleading; it is just one of the many native plants with show flowers that happens to bloom around the same time as ragweed, and so it gets blamed for the ragweed allergies.
Fall foliage and ripening seeds are doing what they do best.
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