Plant fall-blooming crocus in late summer and you'll enjoy these sweet flowers just four to six weeks later. Thwart squirrels from invading your crocus planting by anchoring chicken wire firmly over the bed.
Most cooks value fresh garlic, and many a gardener also enjoys its large spring Allium flowers. The ones that grow best locally are often shared between gardeners, who plant individual cloves in the fall and harvest and dry the bulbs the following spring.
Related to snapdragons, twinspur (Diaschia)is a cool-weather annual, producing its bright blooms as long as nighttime temperatures stay below 70 or so. In northern climates, that means flowers from spring through fall until the first hard frost. Comes in pink, rose, orange, salmon, cream, white and combos. Perennial in USDA Zone 7 and warmer.
In the cool weather seasons of fall and spring, count on flowering stock (Matthiola incana) to deliver amazing fragrance with its strong and spicy clove scented blooms. This variety is ‘Sugar & Spice,’ and it grows 10 to 12 inches tall and 8 to 10 inches wide. Stock is a much beloved old-fashioned flower, a common plant in Victorian-era gardens. The modern varieties offer things like better heat tolerance and a vivid range of jewel-tone blooms, including deep violet, rose-pink, fuchsia and white. Use flowering stock in containers or planting beds, placing it near an entrance so you can savor the scent. This is an annual plant, dying after hard frost.
If you love hummingbirds, include cardinal flower (Lobelia speciosa) in your yard. The brilliant red blossoms on this perennial are a magnet for hummers. Plants branch well and produce flowers on strong upright spikes from midsummer into early fall. Site this native in full sun to part shade. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 20 to 24 inches tall by 12 to 14 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 6-10. If you prefer pink flowers, look for ‘Starship Rose’ cardinal flower.
Nostalgia and romance mingle in the boughs of a flowering crabapple tree. These spring beauties typically open blossoms in shades of pink, rose and white. You can choose crabapple trees in many sizes, from petite standards that look great in pots to full-size trees. Look for varieties that form fruit if you want to feed birds, or skip the apples if you want one less yard clean-up chore. Newer crabapples offer disease resistance that ensures your tree will hang onto leaves for strong fall color.
A good planting combination for a fall pot includes pansy, garden mums and ornamental or flowering kale. Other good cool season container plants include ornamental grass and herbs like rosemary (shown) or thyme.
Fall sedums bring strong multi-season interest to garden beds. Flowers shift colors as they develop from buds to open blooms. Faded flower clusters add color to winter scenery, too. Easy-growing sedum is rabbit resistant and a terrific pollinator plant, attracting butterflies and all kinds of bees. Site in full sun in well-drained soil. Drought tolerant plants grow 24 to 30 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9.