Two evergreens standing sentinel by a black metal fence just didn’t cut it. This scene called for reinforcements — plants that would look good throughout the growing season, especially in fall.
With hardscaping and plants, the garden entry now catches the eye. A double row of square pavers creates a practical and aesthetic walkway addition. The paver path is flanked by plants with multiseason appeal: grasses, shrubs, perennials, annuals and a ground cover.
- Eastern arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis), Zones 2–7
- Mums (Chrysanthemum), Zones 5–7 or annual
- Dwarf fountain grass (Pennisetum ‘Hameln’), Zones 5–9
- Spirea (Spiraea japonica ‘Goldmound’), Zones 4–8
- Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Zones 3–10
- Sea foam carpet green (Herniara glabra), Zones 5–11
- Pansies (Viola), annual
Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’
With its thick, fleshy leaves, ‘Autumn Joy’ knows how to conserve moisture, so it’s a lazy gardener’s best friend when it comes to watering. It’s also quite pretty, with whitish immature flowers turning pink in late summer and rust in fall. Leave stalks in place because the dried flowers look great dusted with snow. ‘Autumn Joy’ grows about 2 feet tall and wide.
See ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum in a drought-tolerant garden that peaks in late summer.
Dwarf Fountain Grass
Dwarf fountain grass lends itself to the landscape in every season. This attractive fountain-shape ornamental grass develops cream-color flowerheads atop green foliage in summer, later turning hues of buff and tan. It can be left in place for winter interest. Where winter hardy, cut back to the ground in spring to allow for new growth. At just 2 feet tall, it won’t overtake other plants.
What is a fall garden without chrysanthemums? Mums play a supporting role in summer, lending a low-key backdrop of mounded green foliage. They’re the perfect companions for summer annuals because by the time the annuals are looking tired, mums are ready to bloom. Colors include orange, yellow, white, pink, red, lavender and purple.
Good to Know: The earlier they go in the ground, the better chance mums have of returning in cold climates. You can also mulch with straw and leaves, or overwinter potted mums in a cool, attached garage. Keep roots slightly moist, and replant in spring.
Sea Foam Green Carpet
Sea foam green carpet is a creeping ground cover with tiny, tightly packed lime green leaves that turn bronze in winter. The carpetlike plant reaches just an inch in height but spreads 8–12 inches. Sea foam green carpet can withstand foot traffic, so it is perfect for edging a path or bed.
Pansies are a cool-season favorite that really add sizzle to a fall garden. Available in many bright colors and bicolors, pansies are simple to grow and will continue blooming past frost until a hard freeze. Although they’re considered annuals, in some climates pansies return for an encore in spring.
No doubt spirea are better known for their spring or summer blooms. But some, such as this Goldmound spirea, have pretty foliage too. New growth is flushed with red, making a nice contrast with the lime green foliage. In fall, leaves turn copper and maroon hues.
In addition to privacy, arborvitae’s dense evergreen foliage offers a vertical backdrop for a garden, helping lighter-colored plants stand out. New foliage has a bright emerald green hue that eventually fades to a medium green. Arborvitae have a mature height from 1 to 30 feet but seldom need pruning if planted where they have room to mature.
Good to Know: Arborvitae are handsome, dependable, and practically maintenance free. But they are candy to deer so it may be necessary to spray plants with an animal repellent in winter.
With a limited plant palette, you can create a memorable entry garden full of color and lasting beauty.