In recent years, I have found even more reasons not to bother with the standard autumn plantings of mums one sees everywhere—stiff bunches of them on front porches, usually surrounded by pumpkins, gourds, and maybe some corn stalks and/or hay. These displays can be quite effective, and I’d like them more if not for the mums. Mums can’t even be decent enough to provide any kind of longtime bloom; many immediately begin showing brown areas almost as soon as they’re planted. They also have a tendency to fall (stiffly) apart.
Since many of the annuals I already have in pots or elsewhere will bloom through most of mum season, I just stick with those; the increased rain of fall helps with their maintenance.
And recently I’ve begun to add more fall-specific perennials. Like Anne, I am a big anemone fan and have a small stand of them. First, I had to learn that they wanted more sun than I had realized. (This lesson will be a lifelong and never-quite-absorbed process for me.)
Much less picky are the many varieties of solidago. I had always enjoyed goldenrod along the sides of highways or romping through abandoned lots; often, I’d grab some to take home. However, as many gardeners and naturalists know, there are more than a hundred species and dozens of hybrids, most bred to be shorter and less aggressive. I have the ‘Fireworks,’ which looks exactly like its name, with golden spires arcing out in all directions and the Blue-stem (Solidago caesia), which provides a totally different flowering pattern later in the season. I do need to pull out some of the ‘Fireworks’ every season, but it’s not a big deal.
There are some who prefer goldenrod in wild or cultivated meadow settings, and I get why, but, with limited space to devote to late-season bloomers, goldenrod is perfect for me. It makes its presence known when presence is needed.