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Beauty of a Fall Garden

Autumn's natural beauty at NY Botanical Garden

Spring starts with pastel hues of pinks, yellows and purples. As summer begins, the garden reaches a crescendo with brightly colored reds, orange, yellows, deep purples and hot pink. Then, just as quickly, the autumn garden quietly ushers in subdued colors in burgundy, russet, bronze and gold.

I've always been one to deadhead by plants religiously to keep the garden tidy and allow space for others to bloom. But on a recent trip to the New York Botanical Garden, Bronx NY, I was in awe of the natural beauty of the gardens that have been left alone all season.

The astilbe that bloomed in the spring still had their "dead" flower heads, the spent hydrangea blooms were no longer pastel, but a deep red/brown, and hosta leaves were turning yellow.

Well-past blooming for astilbe and hydrangea

In another garden, the Joe Pye Weed's large seed heads were left standing, Japanese Anemone's small pin-head flower stems were left to sway in the breeze and the panicle hydrangeas stole the show in its fading red blossoms.

Joe Pye Weed, Japanese anemone and panicle hydrangea in the fall

And finally, in the native plant garden, the glorious meadow was filled with asters, grasses, solidago (goldenrod) and rudbeckia.

Solidago, rudbeckia, asters and grasses in the fall meadow

And still in another garden, there was a mixture of blooming and spent blooms. The post-bloom stems of sedum and lacecap hydrangea were paired with while grasses' seed heads, and still blooming tender perennials and annuals dahlias, salvia and coleus.

What do you think?

Personally, I love the way the light hits the garden this time of year, highlighting all the beautiful plants still blooming. And yet, I also appreciate this naturalized beauty of leaving things as they are throughout the season. It still looks tidy, even if it's not in full bloom. I particularly love the idea of incorporating the annuals with the faded perennials. Somehow they still seem to complement each other during this phase of their existence.

So yeah, I'm tempted to deadhead my astilbe and pull out the hostas as soon as they begin to turn yellow. But maybe this year, I'll leave them a little longer and see how the garden's beauty unfolds.

What do you think? Do you like the way this looks - au naturale? Or do you prefer a more tidy and "cleaned up" fall garden? Perhaps we can have a little bit of both? Let me know in the comments. I'm curious to read your thoughts!


Oct 02, 2023

This came in the nick of time, we were thinking why are the perennials fading when they were so healthy and thinking South Carolina weather they should still be vibrant. Great blog! JoanW

Kate Walzz
Kate Walzz
Oct 03, 2023
Replying to

Thank you! Yes, every flower has its season - some are more vibrant and colorful than others, but still pretty! Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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