2018-10-04 / From The Garden

Color… Not Just for Summer

By Cynthia Gibson


Chrysanthemums. Chrysanthemums. Welcome to fall! Many of your garden flowers have become, leggy, unsightly, or simply gone to seed. This does not mean your beautiful garden is finished for the season, however. During fall, we are lucky to enjoy an Indian Summer, which will take place in October and will bring us days that will still get into the seventies. Color is far from over.

Yes, pull out your faded annuals, and prune back your perennials that have shown you glorious summer color, as now is the time for a spectacular fall palette. With several simple, inexpensive fall flowers and vegetables, your garden will not only be back in bloom, but in bloom with a bang.

The new fall plants will still need watering, but they are tough strains and will last until the first frost. The flowers to plant are decorative kale, Autumn sage (salvia), moss verbena (you probably planted it this summer), chrysanthemums and asters. All these plants give you fall color and texture that is lovely.


Scarlet kale. Scarlet kale. The colors are deeper jewel tones, particularly when it comes to chrysanthemums, and the choices are white, yellow, gold, burnt umber, bronze, maroon and purples in many shades. Asters, too, are particularly colorful. They have intense blue-purple colors, along with white and even pink. The darker shades are more dramatic for a great look in a fall garden.

Decorative kale is stunning and impressive. It can grow to a very large size, but hybridizers have thought of everything. Kale are bred into sizes that are miniature. They make great fillers for spaces in between colorful chrysanthemums. Kale will last until the first snowfall.

If you did not plant asters, they are available through September in most garden centers and nurseries, along with all the other plants mentioned. Plant them all now and you will be guaranteed a fabulous looking fall garden.


Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She tends her miniature orchard in Newport. The chrysanthemum was cultivated as a flowering herb in 15th century B.C. China. The plants were originally grown for their fragrant leaves, which made a delicious and healthful tea and are grown to this day in China for the same tea.

By the 8th century A.D., the Japanese discovered the chrysanthemum.

This singular flower was so impressive to them that it inspired the crest of the Emperor of Japan, which has not changed to this day.

Kale, the hardiest of all the fall plants, has become more than a diet staple; the breeders of this variety of kale have made them look like skirts of can-can dancers. The color selection is from white, to light pink, to hot pink, to fuchsia, to shades of green to gray, and most have ruffled leaves. They are magnificent and will hold their shape and color, continuing to grow for the next two months. Plant them as soon as possible.

Button chrysanthemum and decorative kale look stunning in planters. Either grouped or as a single plant, they can make a colorful statement for fall. Asters are a wonderful, old-fashioned flower that is worthy of space in anyone’s garden.

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