Fall-blooming perennials


We are experiencing an incredibly beautiful and long-lasting autumn in Alberta. Perhaps it is meant to make up for the summer-that-never-was.  This past week the temperatures reached the low 20’s (Celsius), with a high of 22 degrees. In November! I decided to take a walk through the perennial trial garden on Thursday in search of some late fall colour.

On the way to the garden I had to take a picture of this late monkshood, likely Aconitum arendsii, which is so late-blooming that often it doesn’t get a chance to bloom in Alberta. In the background is the new Enmax conservatory which opened one year ago this month.

Aconitum arendsii

In the perennial trial garden, one of my favourite plants, Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’, was still blooming away. I love this plant; it is a fantastic addition to the late summer/fall garden.

Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’

There were still a few blooms on Clematis ‘Multi Blue’ as well, despite the fact that it was moved in September. The foliage is a lovely bronzy brown colour in autumn.

Clematis 'Multi Blue'

Another of my favourite perennials in the trials, Sedum ‘Autumn Charm’, was still looking great. The foliage has held up well throughout the fall and was still impressive, especially compared to the other sedums in the trials. The flowers  are showing a bit of their dark wine colour, a lovely contrast to the variegated green and creamy yellow leaves.

Sedum 'Autumn Charm'

This little viola, Viola ‘Columbine’,  started blooming in early spring, slowed down just a little in the heat of summer, and is still blooming away in November!  All five plants were planted in 2009 and have survived one winter and two full growing seasons so far.  I would love to be able to evaluate it for one more year.

Viola 'Columbine'

Silene ‘Clifford Moor’ is a graduate from the 2007-2009 trial. Its small pink flowers are held on long, somewhat floppy stalks, but it is the foliage that really grabs our visitors attention. This is a wonderful woodland plant that still looks great in late fall!

Silene 'Clifford Moor'

On the way back to my office I spotted this white phlox, name unknown, still blooming away in the Dorothy Harvie Gardens.

This bright spot of colour  caught my eye under a spruce tree.  Surely it is almost time for the peacocks to move to their indoor winter home. I guess, like the rest of us, they are taking advantage of every good day that we are given.

 

What a gorgeous autumn we are having in Alberta! In the 26 years that I have lived in this province, I have never seen such beautiful fall colours in the trees and shrubs . The perennial trial gardens are fading gracefully, but there are many perennials still blooming. Some have only started to bloom in the past couple of weeks, adding a lovely splash of colour to the autumn garden. 

The arctic chrysanthemum, Arctanthemum arcticum ‘Red Chimo’ , is one of those late fall bloomers. The flowers have only just opened in the past week, when we finally got a bit of sun and warm weather. What a wonderful surprise to find something blooming so beautifully just when you think the garden is almost finished. 

Arctanthemum 'Red Chimo'

 

Aster ‘Sapphire’ is another late bloomer which has also only started to flower in the past week. This Proven Winners introduction likely would have bloomed earlier if the late summer and early fall had been warmer. The plants are massive, very healthy and absolutely covered in flower buds. Hopefully they will all have time to open this fall. 

Aster 'Sapphire'

 

 Solidago ‘Little Lemon’ is a bright spot of colour in the autumn garden. ‘Little Lemon’ is a compact and floriferous goldenrod with bright yellow flowers. Another goldenrod in the trials, the dwarf Solidago ‘Goldrush’ is just about to bloom. 

Solidago 'Little Lemon'

 

 The flowers on the sedums are just starting to open and turn colour.  Sedum ‘Maestro’, with its lovely dark foliage and purple flowers, is just one of the many sedums blooming in the perennial trial gardens now. 

Sedum 'Maestro'

 

Eupatorium ‘Phantom’ certainly makes a statement in the garden, especially when there are eight plants in one spot, as there are in the perennial trial garden at the Calgary Zoo! This Joe Pye weed is not a plant for a small space, but it is certainly worth growing if you have the room. There is a dwarf Joe Pye in the trials called Eupatorium ‘Purple Bush’ which is somewhat smaller, but at over a metre high, it still might be hard to find a spot for it in a small garden. 

Eupatorium 'Phantom'

 
So much for the notion that the garden is finished now that it’s October.  There’s still a lot happening out there! With the right plants you can have blooms right up until winter arrives. We never know when that will be in Alberta, but why not squeeze every last bit of  enjoyment out of our gardens while we can?

Take a stroll with me through the perennial trial garden at the Calgary Zoo on this September day. It has been a wet and cold September so far, but there’s still lots of colour to be seen in the garden.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are a few shots of more perennials that are blooming in the Alberta Perennial Trials at the Calgary Zoo this week. It just goes to show that colour in the garden doesn’t have to end when summer is over. Even when we finally get frost (possibly this weekend), these plants will still be blooming!

Chrysanthemum 'Tiger Tail'

Chrysanthemum 'Tiger Tail'

 

Echinacea 'White Swan'

Echinacea 'White Swan'

 

Echinacea 'Rubin's Glow'

Echinacea 'Rubin's Glow'

 

Solidago 'Little Lemon'

Solidago 'Little Lemon'

 

Buddleia davidii 'Black Knight'

Buddleia davidii 'Black Knight'

 

© Alberta Perennial Trials, 2010  

Fall has officially begun, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it in Alberta. The temperature in Calgary today was 33 degrees! Despite the temperatures, many of the fall blooming plants are at their best right now.  Here are a few pictures from the perennial trial garden at the Calgary Zoo this week.

   

Anemone 'Party Dress'

Anemone 'Party Dress'

 

Anemone 'September Charm'

Anemone 'September Charm'

 

Aster 'Sapphire'

Aster 'Sapphire'

 

Hemerocallis 'First Knight' and Sedum 'Maestro'

Hemerocallis 'First Knight' and Sedum 'Maestro'

 

Arctanthemum 'Red Chimo'

Arctanthemum 'Red Chimo'

 

Hydrangea paniculata 'Green Spire'

Hydrangea paniculata 'Green Spire'

 

© Alberta Perennial Trials, 2010