Come October, it may seem as though outdoor color is only to be had by putting out bright pumpkins, odd-shaped gourds and, depending on your climate, enjoying the changing color of leaves. But there are flowers to be enjoyed, too. Many of these begin blooming in September--even in the summer--and will continue to do so, even as the nights and days continue to cool. Some will persist beyond October, as well, defying nature's signal to rest.
Goldenrods are sometimes thought of as wildflowers since they are natives of the United States and bloom outside garden boundaries. As suggested by its name, the plant produces clusters of small yellow flowers that are about 1/4-inch big. The show starts in July and continues into October. A member of the aster family, the plant grows up to four feet high. Lance-leaved goldenrod is also known as flat-topped goldenrod. Other varieties you can count on are the showy goldenrod, with flowering stalks that can reach 6 feet, or the 2-foot-tall golden fleece.
Asters are famous for their fall flowers. If you want to make sure you have October flowers, try the New England aster, which starts flowering in late summer and continues into October. The flowers aren't shy and bloom in a light to deep purple tone. Aster is a perennial that is native to the Northeast.
Chrysanthemums come into their own in the month of September and will continue to bloom in October if the temperatures haven't dipped so low that it feels more like winter than fall. The plant is a perennial, so if you start it off right, it will reward you with blooms year after year--though very northern climates will have to treat chrysanthemums as annuals. Flowers bloom in fall colors like yellow and orange and there are many varieties to choose from, including Shasta daisy. A lot of people call chrysanthemums "mums" for short.
As perennials, cheerful pansies aren't fazed by fall's cooler temperatures and, actually, need those cooler days to be at their best. Indeed, if you live too far south, the pansy will behave like an annual or biennial. Those enjoying moderate climates can expect the pansy to bloom all through fall, then live through the winter, optimistically blooming whenever the weather isn't too cold. Pansies can be used as cut flowers, have edible petals and take well to drying. They can either be desiccated with a mix of borax and sand (see Resources) or pressed flat to dry.