Autumn is awesome in the Chesapeake! And so it is also true for Chesapeake Gardens. For those of us who desire year round garden interest, these nine native perennials are still doing their stuff in early October. Sure, the blooms are more sparse and the flowers aren’t as vibrant but they still add color, structure and life to your garden. We are in an urban area so if you reside in a colder part of the watershed, you may not get the very same results but these perennials are good fall citizens, none the less.
New England asters (Symphyotrichum novae-anglaie)
New England asters are native to the US and offer a wide array of choices in flower color and size. Whether you want a tall aster for the back of the border or something more manageable for a smaller garden or have sun or shade, you can find a native aster that will work.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
Some say ubiquitous; I say all around winner — non-stop blooms with striking seed heads for winter interest and bird food. Tolerates drought and part shade. It’s very easy.
Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
These flower spikes surely have less color come Fall but with just a hint or so of that blue and their striking architecture, they are still performing.
Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Technically, coneflower is not native to the Chesapeake as it is a prairie flower but it is nearly native and, for the same reasons as black-eyed Susan, it struts well into Fall.
Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
Goldenrod is a Fall bloomer. This is a perennial to select carefully as there are many out there and many are tall and floppy. There are a number of more compact varieties that are much better suited to smaller gardens. If you already have tall, floppy ones like we did, just cut them back by half in July or August and they will still bloom but will be more upright.
Heuchera (Heuchera Americana)
This is a work horse of a plant because it provides garden interest from May through October. It needs some shade but otherwise tolerates a range of soil and water conditions. Smooth
Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) The native hydrangea blooms age to a green in Fall. While much foliage has fallen, the flower heads still have presence.
Joepye weed (Eupatorium) This is the chocolate Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium rugosum Chocolaltissima) with white flowers.
Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
White turtlehead is a flower that may not grab you at first but it actually has a long bloom season from August through October and once a stand of it matures, it really makes an interesting plant. The pink variety is common but the white is the only host to the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly larva. This perennial needs moist conditions and shade.
So, there you have it! Nine natives still blooming. Do you have others you like? Please let us all know.
For more info:
A great list of asters and their attributes from North Creek Nurseries.
About the Baltimore Checkerspot from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
About smooth hydrangeas from the Lady Bird Wildflower Center.