In late summer when annuals are lanky, tired and dried out, a whole contingent of fall-flowering perennials are opening fresh buds for a display of colour that continues from August to frost.
Some enjoy shade. For instance, the hardy fuchsia is perfect for planting under a north-facing window.
There, the humming birds it attracts give hours of entertainment as they suck nectar from its single, fairly small but very numerous purple and pink flowers.
For reliable root hardiness, it is important to grow the basic species, Fuchsia magellanica. This dies to the ground in most winters but always re-sprouts in spring. Clumps are tolerant of most soils, slowly increase and can be divided in spring when frost season's over.
This fuchsia has many hybrids some of which are said to be hardy.
These may be root-hardy on south slopes and in coastal gardens, but need a very mild winter to do well in the Fraser Valley. The golden-leaf form has been root-hardy in my zone 7 garden.
Another long flowering, iron-hardy perennial is the Japanese anemone (Anemone japonica). Most grow close to three feet (one metre) tall and produce cup-shaped single flowers with a prominent yellow or green centre. The white and green-eyed hybrid 'Honorine Jobert,' is especially lovely and so are the pale pinks.
Japanese anemone also has blazingly pink flower types and also double-flow-
Transplant roots establish easily. Meanwhile mother re-shoots in the original spot no matter how hard you try to relocate her. Her progeny are equally stubborn.
Then there's Verbena bonariensis, which begins flowering in early August and continues almost till frost.
The airy purple flower heads are at the end of rigid, spreading stems which rise to about two feet (60 centimetres).
It's a sun-loving South American immigrant and roots don't always survive the winter.
Since it seeds with great abandon, this isn't a problem in relaxed gardens. Meticulous gardeners may decide it's a weed. But this plant is a delightful companion plant since it rises above most of its neighbours without blocking light.
Other sun-lovers include the late-flowering perennial daisies. Some of the prettiest are the Fall Asters, which produce bright pink, purple and white daisy flowers in such profusion they can cover the plant. Like all the daisy types, bees love them. Many dwarf varieties no more than 12 inches (30 centimetres) are available.
These need dividing about once a year. When the middle of the clump begins thinning out, it's time to take the plant up and replant sections of the vigorous outer ring.
Other good-looking daisy types include the Gloriosa daisies (Rudbeckia hirta) species and hybrids and Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm.' Both are bright yellow daisies with black or brown central cones. They love sun and tend to spread and seed around.
People who love spring crocuses would also enjoy autumn crocuses (Colchicum species).
Most of the easily available ones produce large goblet-shaped flowers in various pinks, pinkishpurple or white. Many have white throats and pink or pink-purple surrounds. There's also a double called 'Waterlily.'
Sometimes Colchicum autumnale, which has smaller but profuse flowers is available in either white or pale pinkish-purple.
All colchicums are dormant through summer but begin producing leaves as flowers fade.
Since the leaves are quite large in spring, colchicums need accommodating companions.
Anne Marrison is happy to answer garden questions. Send them to her via email@example.com.