An October Flower Border - Fall Garden Inspiration

Pennisetum Hameln, Montauk Daisies, Canna Lilies and Lamb's Ears ' Helene on Stein' - Jan Johnsen

In my part of the world - New York State - October is when Mother Nature shines.The days are shorter, the sun is low in the sky, but the weather stays warm enough for the flowering plants to hang on.

 I always design and install gardens with October in mind because it is now when people have time to appreciate their grounds - it is too cold for the beach and graduations and summer parties are a memory. This is when people can stop and savor a garden. 

The design of Fall gardens is something I urge my students to master because these gardens prolong our enjoyment of Nature's gracious gifts.  And, more importantly, they quietly trumpet the siren call of the garden muse who is about to take her leave...but not just yet.....she sticks around to give it one last show....

Spirea Goldmound, Montauk Daisies,lantana, canna lilies

So in that vein, I am sharing and describing a little of what goes into making a autumn flower border... I know most readers simply enjoy the photos but maybe a few of you are interested in the 'gory details'. 

This was suggested to me by someone who wanted to know more about my landscapes and how I create them. It must be my Scandinavian background that allows me to discuss any and all things other than what I actually do day in and day out which is to create lovely, serene landscapes. 

the holly backdrop here hides a deer fence

The flower border shown above is at the bottom of a long, gradual hill - thus, water collected here in great pools after a rain. It was wet and soggy a good deal of the time. Many plants would not have lived in this wetness so I had large amounts of soil brought in to create a high mounded bed to left them above the damp conditions. This is the plant border on the right.

Additionally, we had a 'field' of subsurface pipes (set in gravel) installed in front of the border to catch and carry away the runoff. We then graded and laid sod to create a lawn atop the pipes.

Please know it is always about the grading and the drainage..the plants come later....

Farther uphill I planted shrub roses - 'Sunny' Knock Out Roses in a bed surrounded by boxwood - and beyond is another flower border featuring Nepeta, Japanese wind anemones.

'Sunny' Knock Out Roses planted this year - blooming in October

'Sunny' Knock Out Roses are three shades of light yellow / white...luscious.

Another of my 'fave rave' perennial flowers that is at its best in October (in my part of the world) is Japanese Wind Anemone...gently waving in the cool breeze. Its dainty flowers are the jewels of the flower world.

Honorine Jorbert Japanese wind Anemone

And of course some flowers of summer persist into fall and are actually more glorious now than ever...Lantana and Gomphrena (a straw flower that can be cut for everlasting bouquets) are two of these October performers.

White Lantana in October next to Blue Spruce globosum

close up of Gomphrena 'Buddy purple' with 'Jack Frost' Brunnera

and now that October is coming to a close...on to November!


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  3. Just catching up on your blog--I love this idea; the weather is about the same out here in central Ohio as in the Hudson Valley. One great feature of growing dahlias is that they continue to bloom well through at least mid October here. I have not had good luck with anemones but love them Deer eat the flowers of my roses, sad since the Knock Outs are so gorgeous.


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