In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
October, 2012
Regional Report

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This lovely Autumn Joy sedum is just beginning its colorful show.

Fall Blossoms

I walked out to get the paper this morning and was absolutely knocked over by the scent of the sweet autumn clematis. I always forget about this beautiful vine that blooms in late summer and early fall. And every time I marvel at it, I vow to put more in the yard. (But please note that in some parts of the country, this vine, Clematis terniflora, is considered invasive, so check with your state conservation department before adding it to your landscape.)

There are so many extraordinary plants that bloom in this season of waning gardens and snoozing landscapes. So, take a walk on a brisk morning and see what you see. And, take a notebook with you to make notes of what to add to your garden next year to give you color in this time of year.

Perennial Sunflower
These bright yellow flowers (Helianthus spp.) dot the landscape at this time of year and make a dramatic statement in the garden because of their height. The flowers are only a little larger than a quarter, but there are many, and they are borne on six to eight foot stalks.

Sweet Autumn Clematis
This vining plant drapes itself over fence and post with a fragrant cloud of clear white starry flowers. It can be cut back every year so doesn't get out of hand, and the scent is so welcome in the brisk September sunshine.

The fall-blooming sedums are spectacular with their large, pink to coral heads of flowers that begin to color in August and continue through hard frost. The flowers darken to a rich mahogany and the dried blossoms stand through the snow, adding winter interest to the garden.

Turtleheads (Chelone spp.)are wonderful plants that will grow in sun or shade, in wet or dry soil. They have petite tubular flowers in fuchsia pink or white and are most at home near a stream bank. They begin blooming in September and will often go prolifically until hard frost. They will self-sow, so may take a little management. But your friends will love your sharing!

Not much needs to be said about these nodding golden beauties (Solidago spp.). There are many different kinds and they range from light yellow to deep gold to white. They are often blamed for allergies, but the actual culprit is ragweed, which blooms at the same time. Ragweed flowers are green and have no petals, so we tend to blame the showier goldenrod for our sneezing and itchy eyes. But it's the ragweed's light, wind-borne pollen, not the heavier insect-transported goldenrod pollen, that triggers allergies.

Ornamental Grasses
Let's not overlook the grass blossoms that are spectacular right now. Depending on the variety of grass, the plumes range from white to gold and will turn a tawnier color as we move through the fall. Leave the grasses standing for fantastic winter color and motion.

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