What's blooming in September?

A range of colors and patternsœ and staying power have made sweet Willam a favorite for generations.

The Extension's recommended Joe Pye is a shorter, more civilized cultivar.

Make room in the bulb garden for some showstopping bulbs, like the lavender globe lily and the autumn lilies featured in the headline.

These are a blanket flower all right.

These are too.

"Wow" is the word for these hardy hibiscus, here in a pure white variety.

Extension video series gets you up close and botanical

Other than the everpresent rose of fall-blooming sedums, which come in shades from pink to rose to burgundy, maybe brick orange if you squint a little, are there any other shades and shapes of fall flowers?

Yes, say University of Minnesota extension educator Karl Foord and professor of horticulture Mary Meyer, Ph.D. How many do you want?

Spring and early summer bloomers get a lot of focus in Minnesota - they're proof we've all survived another winter, for one thing - and each tulip and hyacinth gets its own standing ovation.

As summer perennials and annuals take the stage they're also praised and cut for cheerful bouquets.

But gardens can start to look a little frayed and forgotten in September as we pick up other seasonal tasks, and they needn't. There are varieties in hues and forms to complement the bloomers who are bowing out and to give you a reason to linger outside in temperate fall evenings.

At the Extension's flower blog site, http://blog.lib.umn.edu/efans/ygnews/flowers, Foord offers descriptions and photos of some late-summer stars and Meyer shows their full growth and best habitats in videos that'll have you reaching for your seed catalogs and garden planners.

Fall bulbs?

Yes, meaning fall is the time to enjoy them. These include

• lavender globe lily (Allium ssp.) with its delicate lavender pompons held up above the greenery; also known as a type of "ornamental onion"

• curly garlic chives (Allium spp.) with smaller white-flowered globes and curving, eye-catching green spears beneath

• lavender glove lily (Allium tanguticum "Summer Beauty") - yes, this one is "glove" - which reflects the cool, delicate appearance of its relatives, with a crown of light lavender globes over mounded, spiky foliage

• autumn lily (Lycoris squamigera) -- the beauty Dr. Meyer is displaying at the top of the page. The emergence of the baby-pink, yellow-throated flowers in late August - after the original leaves have sprouted and died back -- gives the plant the nicknames "resurrection lily," "surprise lily" and "magic lily"

• blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis) turns the color wheel back to "fall" with red-to-orange-to-gold speckled flowers, but with the charm of the lily shape

Annuals for fall (or fill)

As seasonal showstoppers in annual gardens come and go - or hoped-for perennials don't measure up -- you can keep the show going with:

• broomcorn (Sorghum vulgare) corny, yes, leggy, sure, but the stalks, the leaves and the multicolor fronds on top say "harvest time" without a word, and provide you dried-arrangement material into winter

• sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) in whites, pinks, purples and new reds ("Heart Attack" may actually trigger one for those looking for a deep, true red)

• blanket flowers (Gaillardia pulchella) - the hot-hued daisylike wonder keeps its blooms and now comes in a varietiy of sizes and shapes

Color keeps coming

And, for the perennial border or garden, standbys that echo Grandma's garden are still in fall fashion:

• Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum "Gateway") When is a Joe Pye not a Joe Pye? When the stems under the cool mauve blooms are wine-red. "Gateway" is shorter (4-5 feet) and has more blooms than older cultivars, but late-migrating butterflies and bees like it just as well

• hardy hibiscus, rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos "Blue River II" - pure white, dinner-plate-sized blooms replace one another daily until the end of the season, on a plant that towers over the competition. Take a look at other recent hardy hibiscus varieties for additional "wow" colors

• turtlehead (Chelone lyonii) another favorite for butterflies and bees, with white-to-pink heads on feet-tall stalks

• boneset (Eupatorium maculatum) a moist-soil native with frilly white flowerlets - another favorite for pollinators

With choices like these, your fall flower dictionary doesn't have to stretch just from "marigold" to "mum."


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