In Issue 181, we got to know some of the plants that grace Mt. Cuba Center’s hot, sunny South Garden during the spring and summer months (10 Great Natives for a Sunny Border). The garden had been recently redesigned to showcase a collection of borderworthy natives that can take the heat of the Zone 7 summers in Hockessin, Delaware.
At season’s end, the carefully planned color palette transitions from the warm pinks and oranges of summer to an explosion of blue, gold, and burgundy. The plant list includes well-known fall favorites as well as a few up-and-coming autumn attractions, such as ‘Summer Sunshine’ coreopsis and ‘October Skies’ aromatic aster. Both top performers in Mt. Cuba Center’s plant trials, they definitely deserve to be grown in more gardens.
By massing several plants of each variety together and repeating these blocks of color throughout the garden, the horticulturists who designed the garden struck a delicate balance. The double borders feel formal but not forced, and each plant has enough space to really show what it can do.
When planning your garden’s fall finale, don’t overlook your region’s native plants. There are many excellent species and cultivars that look perfect in a more formal setting, and your local pollinators and wildlife will appreciate the autumn bounty.
Try these at home
Donna Wiley, horticulturist at Mt. Cuba Center, was on the South Garden’s design team and has tended this collection of heat-tolerant natives since it was planted in 2015. Here are her tips for enjoying these autumn beauties in your own garden.
Carol Collins is the assistant editor.
Photos: Carol Collins