Extending the Flower Season

Peak flower season is not over, I say. In fact, color is abundant at Chickadee Gardens right now and here are the flowers to prove it. There are many hardy fuchsias, asters (many reclassified as Symphyotrichum) and penstemons here, all wonderful for extending the flower season well into November and perhaps into December. I am a firm believer in enjoying the garden all four seasons, so with that I give you a selection of late bloomers to hopefully inspire gardeners to keep the party going.

The fuchsias had a rough summer from a late winter freeze then eventually Heat Dome. Finally after cooler temperatures and some steady autumn rain they are happy and doing what they do best, i.e., provide an amazing array of flowers. Pictured is Fuchsia speciosa, a favorite. 

Aster 'Septemberrubin' or September Ruby - this is a seedling from the primary plant at work. I picked it up because of its intense color to pop in a primarily all green bed, a new area behind the hoop house. You can see it from 200' away.

Although little, Caryopteris incana on the left is quite pretty and also a late bloomer (as are all caryopteris). On the right is Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, plumbago, which is another late bloomer that charms with its brilliant blue flowers.

Aster ericoides 'First Snow' is one of my favorite asters for its sheer abundance of flowering. The bees especially visit this one. It does look like erica or heath as the name suggests, more horizontal than vertical, so it fills in gaps nicely at the front of the border. Here I have it planted in a primarily white bed for full sun.

One of our natives, Aster subspicatus, syn. Symphyotrichum subspicatum, Douglas' aster. This is a prolific re-seeder but an important pollen source for all manner of bees.

Begonia grandis ssp. evansiana 'Alba' has been reliably hardy for me and a re-seeder locally in its immediate area. Some gardeners I know have experienced this as a problematic re-seeder, but I do not have this experience. It's a late bloomer coming into flower in September and it will go right through until the first frost.

More Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, plumbago because it's so pretty, it deserves a second photo.

Unknown aster in the meadow garden.

Fuchsia magellanica 'Aurea' is a generous bloomer with golden foliage when sited in a sunny spot. 

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' is still going strong and as a bonus it has fantastic fall coloration on its leaves that are just beginning to turn reddish.

Abutilons or flowering maples really are in full swing right now. Pictured is one from work, 'Orange with Red Anthers'. OK, not the most creative name but it's loveley.

Color comes also from rose hips. Pictured is Rosa glauca. I have a few other species roses that all produce hips and are fantastic, including Rosa pomifera and R. moyesii. In the background is Solidago 'Fireworks' - another late in the season flower power that is a major attraction for bees, plus it's incredibly drought tolerant.

Caryopteris is a deciduous woody sub shrub that leafs out late in the spring and blooms late, too. It is also regularly visited by bumble bees and I'm sure a myriad of other pollinators. I have had this cultivar 'Dark Knight' produce several seedlings for me which are nearly true to this, only they have slightly more silver foliage.

Salvia microphylla has been blooming all summer and will continue right through until the first frost and perhaps beyond that. It is a woody sub shrub that is pruned in late winter to shape. I gave this one a second haircut a few weeks ago as it got a little wonky in our heat event in June.

Salvia arizonica is the prettiest blue and - get this - it blooms in shade. Not deep dense shade but high overhead shade and it loves it. I think morning sun and afternoon shade is perfect. Such a great salvia, so easy and a prolific bloomer once it gets going.

Common allium - likely Allium tuberosum, garlic chives, are allowed in the meadow area where they pair beautifully with tawny and orange colors of grasses such as Anemnanthele lessoniana and Carex testacea. These bloom reliably and since the planting area they are in is so dense they do not tend to seed around much.

Another golden leaved fuchsia, this is Fuchisa 'Golden Gate' that is in a lot of shade so the foliage is quite green. Another generous bloomer, especially for shade.

Hesperantha coccinea (syn. Schizostylus coccinea) is an autumn bloomer, sometimes going though the first frost and even winter months. It requires a wet location and would be great next to a pond, for example.

Ricinis communis, castor bean plant will be showy like this for several months. They are not for everyone as yes, the seeds are poisonous (and are the source for castor oil). They have been used as ornamental plants for centuries and can be invasive, but for me they are not hardy so are basically a very showy annual. Don't grow this one if you have any concerns at all.

Fuchsia 'Little Beauty' is a petite 2' or so in my garden and is another generous bloomer. I bought this one by mistake, I thought I was buying another variety but I'm pleasantly surprised by how robust and floriferous it is. These colors are really not my thing but they are lovely at the edge of a newly planted woodland area and stand out against a lot of green (near Aster 'Septemberrubin'), so for that alone I appreciate them.

The ever popular Fuchisa 'Hawkshead' is in a good amount of shade and is finally, after 5 or so years in the garden, happy. It is in a tough location with root and water competition from neighboring trees.

Fuchsia 'Dying Embers' has the loveliest dark coloration on both the sepals and corollas with reddish stems to boot. I also like its narrower foliage.

Fuchsia 'Exmoor Wood' is a favorite as its flowers dance at the ends of wiry branches in a good amount of shade.

Fuchsia 'Nici's Findling' is another petite fuchsia with the most charming chubby flowers in coral pink.

The Rudbeckia hirta are wrapping up, here they are mingling with a self-sown Helianthus 'Lemon Queen'. I leave the rudbeckia standing through winter for foraging birds.

I cannot forget the Zauschneria (Epilobium) -  they are all blooming and I can't keep track of what's what when it comes to its cultivars. They have been blooming for a few months, by the way, and will keep flowering for a good while longer.

An aster party in the meadow. If you want late season flowers that are drought tolerant, get yourself some asters. 

Kniphofia thompsonii has decided it wants to bloom for a second round. This is a fairly new plant to me so I am not certain if this is normal or a product of the heat dome where perhaps it paused its blooming cycle. I do observe several kniphofias in the gardens at work are in full bloom right now.

Aster laterififlorus 'Lady in Black' (syn. Symphyotrichum lateriflorum 'Lady in Black' - I am having a hard time getting on board with this reclassification of many asters, do forgive me please). Also her brother Aster 'Prince' is similar and just as fabulous.

A trio of California poppies, self sown asters and an unknown very tall coreopsis in the meadow area. 

Penstemons! I cannot forget the amazing penstemons. Many of the garden hybrids such as this one, P. 'Firebird' will give you a good second flush of flowers if you deadhead them in summer after the first bloom. Some just keep on going like P. kunthii, one of my favorites. Most of the native penstemons bloom in late spring and don't rebloom.

Japanese anemones in the gardens where I work, these are simply called 'White' - some cross or another with simple clear white flowers. Japanese anemones have been blooming for a few weeks now and will continue on for a few more. They appreciate a little shade in hot areas and come in a variety of shades of purple, white and pink. They can take over in certain situations so plant with care.

I took this photograph at work, Lespedeza thunbergii or bush clover, quite a breathtaking shrub that drips purple flowers beginning in mid-September for us. This is if you want a little drama in your garden. Ours is in a good amount of shade after many years but is said to do well in sun. In any case, it is a showstopper for several weeks.

Tricyrtis or toad lily is an autumn blooming perennial for shade. We can't forget the shade plants!

Others that are not pictured are alstroemeria (I don't grow it but it blooms forever in the gardens at work), many warm weather grasses, Chrysanthemum 'Sheffield Pink' is getting ready to bloom, Helianthus angustifolius is also ready to explode. Of course I forgot some, but you get the idea. There are choices out there and for me in the Pacific Northwest autumn is a prime time to plant as the rains have returned and the soil is warm. Perfect for getting those roots settled in and growing nicely so by spring they can take off with much less stress.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. I hope you have perhaps found a little inspiration to keep the show going for a little while longer. Thank you for reading and happy gardening everyone! What are your favorite autumn flowers? Do share....let's keep the conversation going.


  1. So lovely. Even though you know the season is rapping up all those Fall plants really go out with a bang. Am envious of your ability to grow so many fuchsias. They really are the most delicate looking but just can't take our winter cold. Am absolutely in love with the California fuchsia. It came through our very hot dry summer without a sniffle and has been blooming since July.

    1. Thank you luv2garden. They do go out with a bang and autumn color will follow, so it really extends the season.

      The fuchsias - yes, they are hardy to about zone 7 or 8 in some cases but the Cal. fuchsia (zauschneria) is FABULOUS for so many reasons. Glad it does well for you!

  2. Your garden is putting on a real flower show, Tamara. I'm especially envious of the fuchsias, which I'm finding impossible to grow in my current garden, although I do keep trying...I love the Lespedeza thunbergii too but it appears to require conditions my climate doesn't provide. And your Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' looks spectacular! Mine behaved very oddly and most certainly didn't create the clump I'd expected.

    1. Ah, the fuchsias. You know, Fuchsia 'Globosa' is said to be the most drought tolerant of those we grow at the nursery....perhaps give that one a try? The Lespedeza t. is stunning - I don't grow it as it needs regular water, it would probably be unhappy in my garden. What did your helianthus do? I am intrigued!

  3. This is great. I want to keep the whole blog entry as a reference for plants to buy next year. I know I won't remember and I made a rule not to buy anything that needs much water, but those fuchsias!! I feel myself weakening. I just love the asters, especially the teensie flowered ones like Prince.

    1. Oh, great! The asters are actually all very drought adapted - I can't recall where you are but now is a great time to plant at least here in the PNW as the rains have returned. Fuchsias - I am told they are pretty drought tolerant once established and that seems to be the case with mine, but I'd need to observe them a couple more years to make a definite decision one way or another. I know they didn't LOOK good in the gardens where I work until the weather cooled off and they got more water. I think they would have survived with less but maybe not look as good? I ramble on....

      Anyhow, I love aster Prince and the like too, such charming flowers.

    2. S.Oregon. I have so many asters the whole garden buzzes!

  4. Thank you for this lovely post. My fuchsias are doing well too, and I just bought some small asters (4” pots) to add to my sloping bank plantings. I hope I can find the pink Septemberrubin aster down here (Corvallis). I love fall and am so happy the rains have returned, even if not enough yet. I’d love to keep this post as inspiration too. Gayle

    1. How lovely, Gayle. Septemberrubin is (should be?) fairly easy to find. We're so happy the rains have returned as well, hopefully we will all catch up on our water! Cheers and thank you for commenting and reading!


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