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Perennials to brighten up the garden in the fall

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm' withstands the elements right into fall
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Lise Servant)
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm'
  • Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm'
  • Tricyrtis

Here are some suggestions for herbaceous perennials you can include in your garden, to enjoy their spectacular fall foliage.

Latin name (common name) Foliage colours
Alkekengi officinarum, syn. Physalis alkekengi (Chinese lantern) Yellow
Aquilegia canadensis (Red columbine) Dark purple
Bergenia (Bergenia) Bronze
Bistorta affinis, syn. Polygonum affine (Himalayan knotweed) Red
Epimedium (Bishop's hat) Bronze, yellow, red
Geranium dalmaticum (Dalmatian cranesbill) Bright red
Iris sibirica (Siberian iris) Yellow
Oenothera (Evening-primrose) Red
Phedimus kamtschaticus, syn. Sedum kamschaticum (Kamchatka stonecrop) Orange-red
Platycodon (Balloon flower) Striking translucent yellow
Sempervivum (Houseleek) Purplish to red

Perennials to combine with conifers

While trees and shrubs don their fall colours, most conifers stay green all year round. However, the needles of the tamarack (Larix laricina) turn golden before they fall. Other conifers take on more of a purplish hue with the onset of cold weather, such as the Atlantic white cypress 'Heatherburn' (Chamaecyparis thyoides 'Heatherburn') and the horizontal junipers 'Wiltonii' and 'Plumosa'.

These conifers make a good contrasting backdrop for plants with grey, silver or pale yellowish-green foliage that persists until the fall.

Latin name (common name) Foliage colours
Artemisia stellariana (Beach wormwood, Steller’s wormwood) Silvery green
Aurinia saxatilis (Basket of gold) Grey
Cerastium tomentosum (Snow-in-summer) Silver
Veronica incana (Silver speedwell) Grey


No garden would be complete without the presence of a few flowers that decorate it in the fall. Here are a few essentials:

Latin name (common name) Flowers colours
Aconitum carmichaelli (Carmichael's monkshood) Amethyst flowers
Actaea simplex (Kamchatka bugbane) Longs white cobs
Anemone x hybrida (Japanese anemone) White to pink flowers, depending on the cultivar
Chelone glabra (White turtlehead) White flowers, sometimes tinged with pink, that look like turtle heads
Chrysanthemum zawadskii, syn. Chrysanthemum weyrichii (Zawadzki chrysanthemum) Pink daisy-like flower heads with yellow disks
Colchicum automnale (Autumn crocus) Hardy bulb with lilac bloom
Hylotelephium, syn. Sedum (Autumn stonecrop) Flowers of different shades of pink, depending on the cultivar
Physostegia virginiana (Virginia false dragonhead) Pink flowers
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm' (Sullivant’s coneflower) Yellow flowers with brown to black cones
Symphyotrichum, syn. Aster (Aster) Pink, red, pale blue or purplish-blue flowers, depending on the cultivar
Tricyrtis (Toadlily) Beautiful spotted flowers, discreet, unusual shape


Based on an article by René Giguère and Robert Mineau in Quatre-temps magazine, Vol. 23, No.1.

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