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This & That from Steve

  Lazy fall days present the gardener the ideal opportunity to lay down the trowel in favor of just enjoying it all.  Well beyond Maples and Sumacs and Oaks, oh my, and Stalwart fall-blooming perennials such as Monkshood, Japanese Anemone, Toad Lilies and, yes, Asters and Mums, take time to consider perennials whose foliage brightens up the autumn landscape.

   The leaves of Solomon’s Seal, come fall, turn a crisp, translucent, lemony yellow, and persist till snowfall. Ethereal.

  Some Hosta, especially the Sieboldiana types, surprise us with foliage that brightens up the shadiest of nooks as they turn a luminous yellow.

  Ornamental grasses, of course, are at their showy best this time of year. ‘Blue Heaven’, a little Bluestem introduced by the U of M is a favorite as it sizzles in shades of maroon and silver. Hakonechloa marcra, the green Japanese forest grass, shines forth in autumn in a sophisticated, crisp, clean, khaki color.

  The dwarf aruncus, Aruncus aethusifolius, comes into its own in fall, glowing in shades of a salmon, dusky yellow, and soft orange.

  Epimedium, demure all summer long, often provide a smattering of fall color, jazzing up a shady corner with hints of maroon and crimson. 

  One last recommendation – Mukgenia, no common name, so you’ll have to get used to it.  This little charmer sports dark green, leathery, serrated leaves borne on 6-8” tall clumps. Nice enough, but cool weather brings a delightful change to Mukgenia. As the season progresses, the leaves turn a luscious burgundy red, an eye-stopper till frost.

  We’re never in too much of a rush to cut the garden down in fall, there’s much to enjoy well past that first cool snap.  Winter comes soon enough, spelling the end of this season’s bounty.

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