In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
Bearing a succession of subdued lavender blooms, autumn crocuses show off at Butchart Gardens in Canada.
Late Bloomers Keep the Garden Colorful
At a time when lawns and gardens are wilting from the summer heat and drought stress, it can be refreshing to see unusual flowers coming into bloom. The much needed color will add interest and fill in the gaps where perennials were once in their glory. That's the wonder of late-season flowering bulbs. Late-season bulbs can be planted in your garden in late summer and fall, and some will bloom before the snow flies.
Colchicums will usually flower within just a few weeks after being planted. Look for these bulbs sprouting in the garden center and add some to your landscape now, for sudden impact. Colchicums are unique in that their foliage emerges in the spring and then goes dormant in the summer. The crocus-like blooms (they are not true crocuses) appear to be stemless when they open in September.
Another eyecatcher is the dwarf cousin of the daffodil, Sternbergia lutea, which shows off its golden blooms in fall. Plant this one in a warm location with good drainage.
One of my favorites is the autumn crocus. At a recent visit to the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada, these little gems were peeking out among the shrub borders. Bearing a succession of blooms for several weeks, autumn crocuses are good for naturalizing within shrub borders and ground covers. Their bright orange stigmas are an additional bonus. Be sure to locate these diminutive autumn crocuses in the front of the border where they can be admired.
Tiger lilies are great for adding drama to the autumn garden. They will grow to a height of 3 feet or more, so place them towards the back of the border or as a special focal point in an island garden.
Visit some of your local and regional public gardens to see the combinations that can add autumn flare to your landscape. Now is the time to plant.
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