Late-Season Garden Planning
If you need some inspiration for planning a garden that goes full steam from early fall through early winter, get some help from Autumn Gardens, by Ethne Clarke (Soma Books, 1999; $35). It's full of spectacular color photos and provides suggestions for a wealth of combinations of foliage, flowers, grasses, berries, and bark that keeps the color coming right into winter.
Favorite or New Plant
For most gardeners, fescue is a lawn grass, but there are also fescues for the flower border. One of my favorites is Festuca ovina glauca called 'Elijah Blue'. Its ice-blue leaves radiate from the ground like rays of light.
Elijah Blue is a beautiful ornamental. Its foliage stays blue through the summer. In winter the leaves turn a nice teal color. In early summer it develops attractive buff-colored flowers on 15-inch tall stalks. Because the flowers are sterile, you can leave the stalks up for a long season of interest without creating lots of baby fescues.
Elijah Blue is a widely adapted plant and grows almost everywhere in the U.S. It prefers full sun but holds its color well in part shade. It is drought tolerant and appreciates well-draining soils.