Nothing against Mums and Pumpkins! Mums are rich in color and the tightly-bunched
blooms are stunning. But the reference to “hardy mums”is a misnomer. Pumpkins are also
festive but may look a little tired come mid-November when the Mums are for sure dead and gone.
As alternatives, lets look at other equally pretty and long- blooming perennials that can be
displayed on the porch until you’re ready to plant them.** Throw in some hay, a pumpkin, a
scarecrow, or maybe some Magnolia branches, always good in a crunch. Here’s what comes
to mind: **Phlox, your Grandmother’s Garden mainstay. I’ve never had much luck personally,
but that doesn’t stop me from trying because it is my favorite. If it is happy where you plant it,
it will thrive and multiply, sort of like people. Same thing with Plumbago, Phlox’s first
cousin. **Cone Flowers. This sturdy beauty has a strong stem, dark green leaves, and blooms
in every vivid color you can imagine, also in white. They are not great for cutting because
the blooms, while pretty, are also a little rustic and the individual petals are inconsistent.
But grouped together in their spectrum of colors they are fabulous in a garden. For the white
flower I would choose a **Daisy, either Montauk or I have seen some Shastas blooming now.
There are many varieties of Daisy. I actually saw one yesterday that had looked like a Sedum
in July. Now it is a pretty little Daisy. **Rudbeckia looks like a small yellow/orange
Sunflower. **Cosmos has a sweet little bloom and fine feathery foilage. **Coreopsis is
pretty with it’s gentler than a Daisy or Cone Flower foliage.**Lantana (creeping vs. bush)can
cover a lot of ugly. But keep up with the dog. It goes crazy if you let it!
Now, for wonderful Fall blooming shrubs: ** Camellias. Getting ready to burst forth right
now is the November bloomer; but all varieties, which are many and bloom at different times
of the year, are glorious evergreens. **Limelight Hardy Hydrangea. This is the most
magnificent of all Hydrangea! The Limelight starts after the others are over their bloom. It is a
surprise every day. Beginning white, it turns a brilliant lime green (thus the name), then drifts
to a lucious green and pink. It can be as big and voluminous as you want or it can be reined in.
Not pretty in the Winter, but worth the wait.**Nandina. Some silly gardeners are now calling
Nandina an invasive. It is beautiful with its green/red/gold dainty foliage and abundant red
berries. Standard vs. miniature, which IS kind of silly. **Mahonia Japonica/Oregon Grape.
A fabulous and funky shrub. I have a hedge of it mixed with standard height Nandina that hides
from view the ugly house next door. **Baptisia aka False Indigo. If you are ever lucky enough
to find it get it! Move it around if it doesn’t thrive in the first spot you try.
Remember, “Always dig a $10 hole for a $5 plant”. If you do the reverse you will have
nothing. Dig the $10 hole and mix the soil from same with a product like Miracle
Grow Garden Soil (yellow bag at Home Depot).
**Everything does better if planted in cooler October, November weather.