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October 2014

Color in the Fall Garden

Walking through The Frelinghuysen Arboretum in mid-October reveals an abundance of flowering plants that accent the blazing foliage of trees. Right now, more than 33 blooming shrubs, perennials and a few biennials surround the Haggerty Education Center and the Frelinghuysen mansion.

The Cottage Garden bursts with late season annuals, tall dahlias, small shrubs, interesting vegetables and perennials. They flounce around tithonia while hot pink persicaria drips over golden zinnias.

The walk through the beds leads to the Crescent Garden where red chairs add even more color in front of the now green and white garden. Blue Salvia nemorosa fronts white Nicotiana, dried filipendula flowers and variegated hydrangea foliage.

The Blue Garden has blossoms galore: caryopteris, laurentia, asters, monkshood, tricyrtis, plumbago, nepeta, garden phlox and platycodon. In the close-by Alpine Garden, pale pink armeria flowers above a miniature, trimmed lawn of its foliage.

In the long beds of the Progressive 4 Seasons Garden, boisterous shrubs, trees and very tall grasses and perennials flank the curvy stone path. This is definitely the time for Heptacodium miconioides (Seven Sons Tree) to take the stage. Its flamboyant branches end with clusters of pink-red sepals with a few white flowers left for stardust. Its full crown spreads over a multi-stemmed trunk with peeling bark. Nearby, one of this writer’s fall favorites flourishes: Korean chrysanthemum with pink buds and daisies that age to white.

Across the drive on the way to the rose gardens at the mansion, the arboretum’s trees steal this show: a Japanese stewartia with flaming leaves over epimedium, a low scarlet contorted Japanese maple and a very elegant tall white ash.

The Rose Gardens bloom with full, mature perennials such as great bunches of white Japanese anemone and Russian sage placed perfectly almost astride a bench where one can cuddle. A small yellow foxglove strives to live at this late date and a 5-foot stand of Aster tartaricus ‘Jin-Dal’ shores up the exit.

Come see these fall blossoms that you can easily grow in your garden. And why not try a Seven Sons Tree? Butterflies will thank you for. See them at The Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Plains, New Jersey.

The Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum: www.arboretumfriends.org
**Mary Jasch photos

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