GARDENING WITH MICKI: Colors brighten fall gardens

Double Hollyhocks can add color and brightness to the usual colors of a fall garden.

It’s obvious the fall season is upon us. Mums are quite beautiful right now and always a staple of a fall garden.

Pansies, one of my favorites, delight garden fans with their sweet smiling faces. Even my lilacs and hot pink crepe myrtles seem to be blooming longer than usual.

Right now my mailbox is bulging with all kinds of garden catalogs and fall landscaping tips and enticing offers. Although I really don’t need any more plants for the four garden areas, I’ve been on the hunt for something new and different to accompany the traditional crocus, tulips and daffodils — staples of a spring garden.

There’s no trumpet fanfare for their arrival, but it’s always such a joy to see those first floral signs of spring. I’ve been on a mission this season to plant some new and different perennials for spring.

Right now mums are blooming on top of the tulip bulbs planted early in September — an experiment for a small space garden by the front walk. I also wanted to work with a more vibrant color palette for all the garden areas.

The garden catalogs are like the Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs I used to study as a teenager, planning what kind of home furnishings I would have when I “grew up.” On this current quest to have “different” things in the garden, I was drawn to flowers and plants with unusual names. After all, I am a word person.

One catalog offered a bargain of 15 perennials for only $14.99. I could order three plants of five varieties. You don’t need to be a math whiz to know that’s a bargain. In my quest for a new alphabet soup of plants, I ordered Bonfire Euphorbia, which promised to give my gardens “a three-season performance.” We’ll see.

Other choices included Arizona Sun Gaillardia with orange and red blooms. It was touted as “ideal for cut flowers.” That was appealing as I love fresh bouquets on the kitchen’s center island, daily.

The Double Hollyhocks reminded me of those we had when I was growing up on East Side Boulevard. My paternal grandmother always lived with my family, and she loved Hollyhocks.

I will name that area “Emma’s Garden.” I think she would be so pleased.

Micki J. Shelton is a gardening columnist for CNHI.

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