Thursday, August 15, 2002
Steamboat Springs Fall is one of my favorite times to be in the garden planting some of my favorite plants like wild iris, feather hyacinth, daffodils and daylilies for next spring's show.
The fall finale is also a time to enjoy great fall colors, especially if you have planned your garden for these late bloomers. The titans of the garden like sunflowers, yarrows and dahlias are in their glory. Then fall blooming perennials such as salvia, "Pitcher's Blue Sage," covered in clear blue flowers or rudbeckia, a yellow "brown-eyed Susan" or the pinkish-bronze broccoli-shaped heads of sedum, "Autumn Joy."
Asters and chrysanthemums also come into their own, often clothed so lavishly in blossoms that their foliage is completely obscured. Autumn crocus produces leaves in the spring and flowers in the fall
The perennial herb eupatorium, "Joe Pye Weed," will attract lots of butterflies with its burgundy stems and rich pink flower heads. (Joe Pye was a famous medicine man who used this plant to induce sweating and thereby break fevers during a typhus outbreak in New England.)
Some other treats for the eye are the ornamental cabbages and kales that look like giant blue-green peonies edged with white, cream, rose or purple. The colors are beautiful and strongest after first frosts and they are edible!
As glorious as the flower show can be, surely nothing compares to a landscape painted fiery vermilion, yellow, maroon, crimson, bronze and gold. These brilliant hues emerge every fall and transform our treasured trees into bright beams of color.
The ginkgo tree is considered one of the most attractive deciduous trees grown. Female trees produce messy fruit with an objectionable odor; however, there are several male clones available that do not produce fruit including a variety called "Autumn Gold."
The serviceberry puts on a nice display three out of four seasons, spring brings white flowers, summer brings purple-black berries and fall brings brightly colored foliage.
The chokecherry is a favorite of the birds. It has yellow fall color with shiny, cinnamon-colored bark to brighten any winter scene. Then there is the quaking aspen, a local favorite. Yellow autumn leaves are showy against silvery trunks
But it's not just trees and flowers that bring great autumn color, so do vines and shrubs. Euonymus alatus, "Dwarf Burning Bush," turns brilliant red in fall. The red-twig and yellow-twig dogwoods are very interesting for fall and winter color. Ferns and grasses can complement the saturated colors quite nicely with tans and pale yellows. And evergreens are a necessity for balance and contrast.
As temperatures cool and the light begins to change, look around our local nurseries and find there is a lot more there for fall planting than ever before. Don't forget to buy some bulbs for fall planting, so you'll have plenty of spring bloom to start the show all over again.
Kathy Conlon is a Routt County resident and a Master Gardener through the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension office in Routt County. Questions? Call 879-0825 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.