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Autumn sneaking into the garden means it is time to celebrate and color up with sunny, late-blooming perennials. Here are a few of the best for fall. They will cheer up the garden with plenty of color, as well as feed birds, butterflies and the hummingbirds.

Gallo Bright Red Gaillardia: A profusion of smoky, sunset-red daisies make this Gaillardia a must for the autumn sun garden. Deer shun it, butterflies and pollinators love it. Plants bloom summer through late fall. Snip faded blooms once a week to keep the flowers coming on. Growing only 12 inches tall and about as wide, this is a nice plant for containers and for edging borders.

Mexican Sage: Native to central and eastern Mexico, this hummingbird favorite thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. It is a robust sage that grows over 3-feet tall and up to 6-feet wide. It typically overwinters well on the coast, unless there is a hard freeze. If the winter is extra mild, plants will continue to bloom. Hard frost will knock it back, but most of the time plants return in spring. Drought tolerant and deer proof, Mexican sage does not need much fertilizer or water once established. A good shearing back in early spring, if frost does not do it first, will make for fat, happy plants.

Goldsturm Rudbeckia: One of the best perennials to brighten up a late summer and fall garden is the old-fashioned coneflower black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm.’ This time of year plants become smothered with hundreds of golden daisies, each with a stiff black cone in center. A large, full bed of black-eyed Susans makes a stunning display. Bees and butterflies find the flowers especially attractive. Songbirds nibble on seed heads of spent blossoms. Extremely long-lived, black-eyed Susan is one of the easiest perennials one can grow. It is not picky about soil type as long as full sun is provided. Once established, a good soaking two or three times during the summer, up until bloom, keeps plants robust and green.

California Fuchsia: Epilobium canum, commonly called California fuchsia, is a sturdy native perennial that is drought tolerant, easy to grow and blooms from summer well into autumn. Hummingbirds cannot resist the masses of orange/red trumpet-shaped flowers laden with nectar. California fuchsia grows 2- to 3-feet tall and about as wide when fully mature. It prefers full sun and dry summer soil. A good shearing back after bloom  forces plants soon fill out with soft gray/green foliage. Leaves are quite slender, soft and needle-shaped.

Terry Kramer is the site manager for the Humboldt Botanical Garden and a trained horticulturist and journalist. She has been writing a garden column for the Times-Standard since 1982. Contact her at vlngirl@yahoo.com.

 

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