Extend autumn colour with careful planning

Perennials may be starting to die back but their foliage continues to offer a spot of colour in...
Perennials may be starting to die back but their foliage continues to offer a spot of colour in an autumn garden. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
When we think of autumn from a gardener’s point of view we may admire the beautiful autumn foliage of the trees.

A gardener’s grim focus, though, can be that it’s time to get the leaf rake out and add those leaves to the compost heap.

However, as autumn approaches have you taken a moment to consider some of the autumn colour many perennials offer? Perennials may be starting to die back for the winter season and hunker down but their foliage offers a spot of colour.

Hostas’ foliage is lovely shades of golden yellow. The taller perennials like Thalictrum and Pulmonaria are other good examples.

By leaving the foliage on until it is frosted or collapses to the ground you will enjoy elongated colour.

Some other perennials with wonderful shades of foliage colour are Peony, Gentian, Ligularia, and even the good old perennial Geranium. Astilbe species and Alchemilla mollis’ actual flowering stems can look beautiful too. Do note though it does have the ability to self-seed and spread.

Take a walk around your garden to note whether you have any perennials that offer this potential. Make a note of which ones are suitable.

This spring you can divide these plants or shift them to a new location and create your own little patch of autumn and extend the seasonal display.

Double your bonus autumn display and add some shrubs or trees that also have wonderful autumn foliage.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Linda Hellyer.

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