Garden Gate: Purple haze keeps going into fall

dusty miller

We are lucky to be in Texas this time of year. Some of our summer blooming plants like hibiscus and bougainvillea are still giving us a show, and we can add in gorgeous fall blooming annuals and perennials. Just for fun, how about we focus on some purple beauties and create an area that will not only draw you to the garden but butterflies, bees and birds as well? It seems that we all love purple.

One flower that we always think of for fall is the pansy. They love our fall weather and can be found in all shades of purples. Look for dianthus and violas, too, for that soothing purple haze feel. A unique option would be the addition of ornamental cabbage with its dusty cool tones. Dusty miller is greyish to light purple and would perk up any garden area. The beautiful snapdragon can be found in royal shades of purple and in such of variety of heights that they become a versatile addition to garden spaces. An added bonus is that when our winter is mild, many of the fall plantings will still be there to ‘entertain’ us in the early spring.

Perennials are such winners, too! Autumn asters (lavender) are such a great choice for a border, rock garden or wildflower garden. Asters are a rich source of nectar and because they flower at the height of monarch butterfly migration season, they are a frequent way station for these insects. Your asters will like full to partial sun exposure with loamy soil. These perennials have star shaped flower heads and begin to bloom when some of our summer bloomers are tuckering out. The plant’s height ranges from 8 inches to 8 feet, depending on the type, so choose carefully. You can find an aster for almost any garden.

Angelonia is sometimes called the summer snapdragon. Its blooming spires resemble salvia, except they are denser. The spires reach 1 or 2 feet in height and are studded with fascinating snapdragon-like flowers. It is the perfect plant for adding bright color to sunny spaces. It is a tough plant. If you are diligent in your search you can even find a yummy scented variety. They are considered a perennial in our gardening zone. Give ‘em well-drained soils, full sun and organic fertilizers and plenty of water to get them situated.

Consider adding a large outdoor container in purple, of course. You can even consider spray-painting that dull outdoor furniture from last year a shade of purple for your purple haze area. We could go further: purple mug, purple umbrella, purple ...