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Fall beauties in the garden

Plants are entering their final phase for the year, but I enjoy watching the transition. The beauty is a little more subtle this time of year so I find if I cut down the plants that have lost their good looks my attention can focus on whats left. Cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychrome) and Artemesia Silver Mound are two perennials that form a beautiful mound of foliage. Their looks improve this time of year if you give them a hair cut in mid summer. Cut back each clump to three inches tall, leaving a cluster of bare stems. Within a few weeks they re-grew to form a dense clump of lush foliage. No garden should be without sedumAutumn Joy which is just now reaching its peak beauty. This plant goes from a dense clump of beautiful silver-green leaves to flower buds that look like bunches of broccoli to now when they gradually open then move through all shades of pink to rose to a deep burgundy after a hard frost. These burgundy flowers last almost all winter and are beautiful after a snowfall. One problem is if you dont divide it every three years, the clump opens up in fall from the weight of the huge flower clusters. When this happens make a note to yourself to divide it the following spring. Black Jack looks very much like Autumn Joy in form but the leaves are a dark purple. The pink flowers are lovely in contrast to the purple. Balloonflower (Platycodon) and evening primrose (Oenothera) are coloring up now, too. Their leaves also turn a gorgeous orange-red that persist quite a while. Amsonia turns bright yellow in the fall and forms a beautiful backdrop to my shorter perennials. Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. CCE offices may be reached in Clinton County at 561-7450 and Essex County at 962-4810. More information may be found on-line at ecgardening.cce.cornell.edu or by sending an e-mail to a Master Gardener volunteer at askMG@cornell.edu.

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