Saturday, February 14, 2015

Rose Garden in Autumn

I didn't specifically design this garden with Fall Color as the focus, but plenty crept in anyway.

Rose Garden in Fall: Cotinus coggygria 'Purple Cloak', Lamb's Ears, Euphorbia polychroma

The dark purple leaves of the Smoke Bush (Cotinus 'Velvet Cloak') gradually turn intense orange and red, and the nearby Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma) also colors up nicely. The Lamb's Ears are evergreen (or ever-silver) and continue to add color to the scene well past frost.

Euphorbia polychroma with Cotinus in October

I love the muted peachy-coral colors of the Spurge in Fall - this is one of my favorite four-season perennials.

Cotinus coggygria 'Velvet Cloak' in October

Cotinus foliage is colorful from Spring through Fall as well. I struggle to keep this fellow in bounds, as it wants to grow into a ginormous shrub/tree/monster. I cut it to the ground in spring, and still end up trimming it back several times a year. Highly worth it though for the color it provides.

Anemone 'Alice', Sedum 'Autumn Fire', and Austin Rose 'Sophy's Rose' in October

There are Fall flowers here too - double-flowered pink Japanese Anemone 'Alice' is a fall-bloomer, and it tumbles through the brick red florets of Sedum 'Autumn Fire'. In the background, reddish-pink 'Sophy's Rose' has a second flush of bloom in Fall.

Anemone 'Alice' with Sedum 'Autumn Fire'

Japanese Anemones are wonderful plants, but their tall flower stems do flop all about in an unmannerly sort of way. It looks best if with sturdy neighbors to lean on. Sedum performs this duty admirably.

Sedum 'Autumn Fire' in September

Sedum is of course incredibly common and found even in the gardens of those who do not garden. Its popularity is quite deserved. Though not a "show-stopper" by any means, it is a stalwart four-season plant. It sits there quietly looking charmingly indestructible from spring to fall and even into winter. It is perhaps even more popular with bees than with gardeners, and we are always eager to accommodate these fuzzy little pollinators. Sedum's only potential fault is that if given too rich a soil, too much moisture, and/or too little sun, it will become floppy and open up in the center. A diet of lean soil, strong sunshine, and periodic division should prevent this problem.

Gaura lindheimeri in September, with Yew and Lamium 'Orchid Frost'

Another fall-bloomer in the Rose Garden is Gaura lindheimeri. I wanted a bushy, airy plant for the back of this bed. I am not sure I'm entirely satisfied with the Gaura - it seems to be lacking in "oomf" so far. But it does bloom for a long period, from late summer throughout fall. The pale flowers show up nicely against the dark yew foliage.

September in the Rose Garden: Chrysanthemum 'Mammoth Lavender', 'Blue Point' Juniper, Euonymous fortunei 'Tricolor', Heuchera 'Sashay'

This Chrysanthemum is smothered in bloom in September. It is one of my first Chrysanthemums to bloom, and appears to be hardy (survived the horrendous winter of 2013!) This cultivar has a low, compact, bushy habit (with no pinching), and very large flowers. In reviewing these photos I realize that the fall flowers in the Rose Garden are all pink... I do like the pink color against the bluish foliage of the Juniper and Euonymous here. The foliage of earlier-blooming Iris sibirica and Iris tectorum continue to look fresh and spiky in the background. The giant weedy hole in the picture is where some recently transplanted roses used to be. It is now filled by a large hosta, which will hopefully appreciate the semi-shady conditions better than the roses did.

Geranium 'Patricia' in October

Geranium 'Patricia' continues to produce a smattering of black-eyed magenta flowers throughout Fall as well as Summer. The foliage of this Geranium does not have appreciable Fall color.

Austin rose 'Eglantyne' in Fall

The reblooming Austin roses do continue to spit out blooms well into Fall, although it is not of course their peak season. Here is tall, fragrant 'Eglantyne' lashed to an obelisk in October.

Quince 'Aromatnaya' - Fruit on tree in October

Finally, my Quince tree is located at the back of this bed, and in 2014 it produced 4 large yellow fruits. I made them into a delicious quince candy. Even though Fall is not the focal season of the Rose Garden,  tucking in fall-interest plants here and there means there is still plenty to enjoy.


  1. Your photos are lovely. You have several species I don't grow. One thing I'm very interested in is your cotinus. I lost mine years ago. Trees matured and it got too much shade. I'm determined to have at least one more. My grandmother had one years ago and I loved it then. I hope some of the nurseries in this area have them this spring. I've heard others say it is hard to keep it to a manageable size so I have to pick my location carefully. I'm thinking beside the back door it should show up nicely against the white house. Do you use any special method to prune it?

    1. To keep cotinus small(-ish) the recommendation is to cut it back down hard every spring. This past year I cut all the branches back to about 2', and it still got too big for me. I ended up pruning it back a couple times throughout the summer too! This year I'm going to try cutting it almost to the ground. Fingers crossed that doesn't kill it!

  2. You've done a great job of creating interest throughout the garden season in your space. I hope things warm up there soon - I look forward to watching your garden wake up.

    1. Thanks - sifting through last year's pictures is helping me get through the long winter. Can't wait for spring!

  3. I love these Japanese anemones and geraniums, Rebecca. They are very pretty flowers, I'd like to grow anemones but some year they disappear in my garden :((

    1. Hi Nadezda, I know some anemones are hardier than others. The one called 'Anemone robustissima' can supposedly take very cold temperatures. Also, they do wake up VERY late in the spring (like May here!) - be careful you don't dig them up accidentally. I plant some spring bulbs around them so I don't forget where they are. They are lovely flowers, and so easy to take care of.

  4. It’s nice to have colour in the garden, especially in the late autumn where there might be fewer flowers. The cotinus looks lovely, too much of a monster for my tiny garden. I have instead opted for different coloured heucheras to add colour among my evergreens.

    1. Yes Helene the cotinus is a bit of a monster! Heuchera is much smaller and comes in so many different colors now with all the new cultivars out there. Looks good winter, spring, summer, and fall too.


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