Perennials Span the Seasons

Choose outstanding and unusual perennials for late summer and early fall gardening.

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Ornamental Grass

There is no true fall finale without an ornamental grass. In the fall, the spikes sway in the wind and give movement in the garden. If you get the sun in late day shining through both plumes and blades, you have a picture-perfect late ending. Late-blooming grasses provide structure in the winter garden and so are cut back in early spring. One of my favorites is switch grass (Panicum virgatum). To have this grass grow well, plant it in full sun with average soil. If you want a grass that has striking color even before fall arrives, you need 'Heavy Metal.' It has shimmering metallic-blue leaves and a compact, erect shape. The airy and feathery plumes emerge in fall as the plant grows to four to five feet. As the season progresses, the blue turns to amber and then to beige as winter sets in. This is a true American beauty that, when planted in mass, produces amber waves of grass. All grasses go well with late asters, sedums and the last blooms of garden phlox.

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