Fall Garden Staff Favorites
Corny dogs under Big Tex at The State Fair of Texas. Roaring, face-painted fans tailgating at the Texas/OU game. Teenagers adorned in oversized homecoming mums. Layers of festive pumpkins and gourds popping up on porches. While autumn in north Texas may translate a bit differently than the sprawling red, orange, and gold tree canopies of northern climates, we certainly have our own way of infusing big fall color into our worlds. This month, we gathered our garden staff to share their fall garden favorites in traditions, seasonal color picks, and tips and tricks for the cooler weather…
What’s special about fall in Texas to you? The weather cooling down, the fair, plants start responding to shorter days with vibrant color changes.
Favorite fall foliage? We go to great lengths to see pretty color here in TX since we have less foliage. The croton is a great multi-colored plant that is versatile in sun or shade. It’s tropical though, and will not survive the frost, so if they’re planted in containers, they can be brought inside when temperatures drop.
Favorite fall garden annual? Petunias – They bloom with vivid color in late august and perform nicely in fall.
Favorite fall garden perennial? Chrysanthemums are popular, but hard to come by this time of here. People special order them for homecoming or to show their Texas spirit. You’ll see them used often as Highland Park home decor prior to the TX/OU game. Pansies and violas are great for color since they last through the winter.
Tips on how to prepare your garden for winter?
- Mulch to hold in moisture and protect it from losing heat; try utilizing chopped-up fall leaves as organic matter in the soil.
- Before a freeze, make sure your garden is moist to help insulate it.
- Don’t do any major fall pruning unless neglected or it will cause plants to grow and burn back in the freeze; roots and stems hold energy for the winter, so pruning now takes energy/food away.
What’s special about fall in Texas to you? I love the break in the weather and being able to enjoy the yard and gardens again!
What makes the garden so beautiful in fall? It feels like gardens take on a new freshness with the break in the heat; there’s new growth and the greens become more vibrant. The garden sheds its summer apparel and becomes more structural, so you look at it in a whole new way.
Favorite combination of fall garden flowers? I found a great combination by accident: sweet alyssum, creeping Jenny, and garden oregano. They’re so bright and survive the winter. Together, they create fabulous ground cover underneath plumbago cutbacks.
Favorite fall garden annual? Icelandic poppies (technically a bi-annual) are great in large gardens with open planting. When planted en mass, they blow in wind and create beautiful movement.
Favorite fall perennial? Lenten Rose
Favorite foliage? Cardoon—it’s a member of the sunflower family but looks like an artichoke. Its huge, silver-gray leaves are very structural and provide an alternative to agave. It’s perfect for modern, contemporary, or Mediterranean gardens and goes well in pots.
Tips to prepare your garden for winter? Water well before a freeze; a well-hydrated garden means roots aren’t getting freeze-dried from the temp drop. Also, be sure to turn off irrigation until after the freeze.
What’s special about fall in Texas to you? We finally get out from under the heat! I love the breeze, sweater weather, lovely fall nights — it’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors. What’s cool about Texas is that you get this mini “spring”— it’s sunny, warm, and plants take a big sigh of relief.
What makes the garden so beautiful in fall? Plants get a respite from the heat and they perk up. The warm days and cool nights create low stress and the benefits of the year are visible. You get to see unusual flowers with bright, eye-catching colors, and they bring out a different season of wildlife. Butterflies and birds coming to eat berries—I love seeing our work pay off from the season and how we’ve benefitted nature.
Favorite combination of fall flowers? Crotons with magenta blooms (dianthus, light purple petunias, snapdragons), pops of white, and chartreuse sedum
Favorite fall annual? Dianthus and snapdragons. These bridge plants help you ease into seasons. You can add a few into a sparse, parched garden and they will bloom into early winter while the pansies transition. Then they can be cut back again in spring so they’ll bloom while waiting for tulips.
Favorite fall perennial? Milkweed, black and blue salvia
Favorite foliage? Spirea species with a nice fall color; wintercreeper wintergreen groundcover makes the transition from green to winter burgundy.
Tips to prepare your garden for winter? It’s a good time to loosen soil in garden beds with a gardening fork. Also, add an organic root stimulator. The one we offer is the best out there, and you can tell the difference in every garden. It works with a plant’s own genetic programming, putting energy in their roots, and helping to grow new roots through fall and winter; more roots means more leaves in the spring!
What’s special about fall in Texas to you? That summer is OVER! No really, it’s starting to get cooler, the leaves start changing colors and everyone takes a deep breath that we survived the summer. It’s also a perfect time to go camping, which my family and I love to do.
What makes the garden so beautiful in fall? I think it is the change in the sunlight and the way it hits the gardens; they take on a whole different look. Also, fall color/pumpkins just make a garden shine.
What is your favorite combination of fall flowers? I like Crotons, ornamental peppers, and celosia together—all the different textures and colors just complement each other.
Favorite fall annual? There are so many, but I guess my favorite fall annual is multi-colored celosia. Snapdragons are a close second.
Favorite fall perennial? Most summer perennials will recover and have another blooming cycle in the fall. I really like the way lantana will make a comeback in the fall.
Favorite foliage? Wintercreeper groundcover – it turns purple when the weather gets cooler.
Tips to prepare your garden for winter? Stock up on freeze cloth if you have anything tender; if you wait until a freeze is forecasted, the stores have already been depleted. Also, mulching in late fall is a great idea.
What’s special about fall in Texas to you? Throughout our limited history, fall has been a time of relief from the heat of summer, the time of harvest, and a time to look forward to the holidays with family and friends, a time to say job well done; and it is great camping weather!
What makes the garden so beautiful in fall? The garden bursts alive after the heat of the summer and has a wonderful vibrant session before reclining into its winter dormancy.
What is your favorite combination of fall flowers? I love the vibrant colors of the pansies and the stunning cabbages, celosia, and black pearl peppers
Favorite fall garden annual? Pansies
Favorite fall garden perennial? Mums—love the mums; they are by far the most unappreciated perennial. Did “ya” know that the lowly Chrysanthemum is Japan’s national flower? Every year from late October to November, there are national festivals featuring the “mum” — even school children will grow their own mums as projects.
Favorite foliage? Crotons—several different varieties
Tips to prepare your garden for winter? Reprogram your irrigation system for cooler nights and shorter days. Adding compost/mulch to your beds protects the roots during cold weather and enriches the natural soil composition.
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