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.
Deer and poorly drained soil can present challenges, but John shows that you can still make a beautiful garden in those conditions.
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Today we’re off to Berwyn, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b), to visit Carol Verhake’s gorgeous garden. We’ve visited Carol’s garden before (Carefully Chosen Colors Bring a Garden Together), and it is always a beautiful and inspiring visit. Carol has a way of combining colors to make magical garden scenes.
While late autumn often triggers a shift to move inside, it turns out it might not be time to pack it all away—at least not yet. In fact, these cooler months before things get truly frosty are a fabulous time to prep your garden for a stunning spring.
Q: Please can you tell me if a dehumidifier is bad for house plants? On the advice of a friend we recently got one as an eco-friendly, cost-effective alternative to a tumble drier. It’s great when it comes to drying the laundry and getting rid of condensation, but I’m worried that it might not be so great for my plants! M Pearse, Dublin
This is Julie Prince (Julie’s Georgia Garden), with a few pictures from the late summer and fall garden. The pool garden was started in the summer of 2020. The front-drive garden was started in 2021. Both are still “works in progress”! Things are changing constantly as I try to give the garden more height and winter interest.
These versatile, clear pouches are not just for storing snacks; they can revolutionize your gardening practices in ways you might never have imagined! Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or a budding gardener, prepare to be amazed with these amazing Ziplock Bag Uses in Garden!
We’re back with more from Susan Esche’s visit to the beautiful University of British Columbia Botanical Garden in Vancouver in early September. It is open to the public and has many different sections and types of gardens to explore.
Horse manure makes an extremely good soil improver for the garden. Often combined with stable bedding and allowed to rot down for a couple of years, horse manure is perfect for digging into planting holes or spreading onto the surface of bare soil. Fresh manure mustn’t be used directly on the garden as it can actually remove nutrients from the soil and scorch plants, but it can be added to compost heaps.
Q: I have a beautiful Clematis montana that I planted in my garden many years ago, but it’s now got too large and is threatening to pull down an old garden fence. Can I prune it back hard without damaging the plant? AL, Co Longford
Garden for long enough and you eventually come to the inevitable realisation that for several perfectly good reasons it’s not that easy to create a memorably good winter pot display. Why not? First and foremost is the fact that unlike its summer equivalent (a completely different creature) you can’t simply stuff a winter container full of lots of frothy annuals, heat-loving, dramatic foliage plants, gauzy grasses, and showy, frost-tender perennials and then hope for the best. Instead the planting must be chosen to be resilient in the face of cold winter winds, heavy rain and frost, as well as tolerant of short days and low light levels, while somehow still being decorative enough to justify its prime position for up to six months. It’s quite the ask.
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