Fall – ing into winter….

We have had some great weather over the last couple of weeks on the west coast. It was really quite warm for October – but all of a sudden the temperature has dropped and the rains have arrived. The wet, cool, grey days of fall are upon us. But before we pack it in and forget about going outside to enjoy our gardens – we can find ways to extend the interest into the fall and winter and plan for spring!

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Sedum ‘autumn joy’,Japanese blood grass.    Aster,torch lily,fountain grass, rudbeckia.

This is the time of year to enjoy the last burst of colour in our gardens. If you have any ornamental grasses in your garden beds like me , then you will be excited as the colours begin to glow and change in the fall light. A mixture of grasses and perennials is a sure fire way to extend the season. The seed heads of the grasses look spectacular in the blowing , autumn winds. The contrast of seed heads of a perennial like black eyed susan or sedum look wonderful next to the airy, wispy quality of the grasses.


Miscanthus ‘Yaku Jima’


Miscanthus ‘Huron Sunrise’

There is also colour to be found in the various shrubs that provide winter interest and food for the birds with berries. Adding 1 or 2 shrubs that produce berries is a great way to add some vibrant focal points in the fall and winter as well.


Callicarpa ‘beauty berry’ and Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’



But back to the grasses…..I have written about the benefits of grasses in the garden before : drought tolerance, low maintenance, long season of interest. The only draw back is when the grasses get cut back in early spring , there are a few months when ones garden can look quite bare. A perfect solution is to plant some spring blooming bulbs. Fill in the gaps between the cut back grasses with vibrant colours from Februrary to May. This is the perfect time of year to get some bulbs in the ground before winter creeps in.


I like to plant a few early blooming crocuses. Then I mix in some early dwarf narcissus like Jetfire, and some later blooming daffs like Tete a tete and  King Alfred. Finally I choose some mid to late blooming tulips to add the late spring burst of colour before the grasses begin to grow again. The great part is the grasses can cover up the dying leaves of your bulbs.

This is a great project to do and lots of fun choosing the colours to start off with in spring after a grey winter. Be bold, have fun and plant away. Check out your local garden centre now for beautiful bulbs….



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