Two Fall Gardens

Cresson Garden Fall 2014 9-6-2014 4-32-08 PMCharles Cresson’s flower garden peaks in fall.

Although I have many beautiful fall-blooming plants at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens and the gardens are quite pretty in fall, there is no area of the garden that peaks then.  Recently I visited two gardens specifically designed to be at their height in fall, and I want to show you the plants they used.  The first is the garden of Dru and Maurie Kring, which I visited during the Scott Associates’ Garden Day on October 5.  The second is the garden of Charles Cresson, which I visited during the Hardy Plant Society’s Fall Members’ Garden Tour, which took place September 6.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.


Kring Garden fall 2014 10-5-2014 3-55-30 PMThe main border on the terrace of the Kring property is backed by a stone wall and lines a beautiful terrace on the top of a hill overlooking three ponds—quite a setting.


Kring Garden fall 2014 10-5-2014 3-55-46 PMA close up the bed featuring dahlias, phlox, and coreopsis.


Kring Garden fall 2014 10-5-2014 3-56-32 PMThe other end of the bed with white phlox, re-bloomimg white iris, salvia, and sedum.


Kring Garden fall 2014 10-5-2014 3-58-01 PMThe flagstone terrace interplanted with six varieties of thyme features a riot of salvias purchased at the herb society’s annual sale.


Kring Garden fall 2014 10-5-2014 3-57-24 PMThe color combination in the salvia border is stunning.


Charles Cresson’s garden is a joy to visit at any time of year, but I was especially impressed with his flower garden this fall.  While other gardens are fading, Charles has created an area that reaches perfection in September and October.  Although I visited towards the beginning of September, Charles assures me that the garden looked glorious this week when a garden tour from England visited, led by the British garden designer, lecturer, and author Noel Kingsbury.  They were impressed, and I am sure you will be too.


Cresson flower garden 8-24-14This photo shows the full length of the Cresson flower garden from above on August 24 (photo provided by Charles Cresson).


Cresson flower garden10-2-14Here you see the same view on October 2.  Although some of the featured plants have gone by, others have taken center stage to keep the display fresh and beautiful (photo provided by Charles Cresson).


Cresson Garden Fall 2014 9-6-2014 4-18-50 PMThe fall flower garden forms a semicircle backed by a white picket fence.  The bed is eight feet deep, and the part I am showing, which is to the left of the green ceramic urn in the panoramic shots, is forty feet long.


Cresson Garden Fall 2014 9-6-2014 4-23-16 PMPlants are carefully chosen not only for the color and bloom time of their flowers but also for their height, leaf color, texture, and habit—nothing is left to chance.  This garden is a lot of work, but Charles says it is worth it for the fresh look at a time when gardens are going by for the year.


Cresson Garden Fall 2014 9-6-2014 4-22-05 PMAlthough cannas, dahlias, and tender salvias are very important to the design, perennials like phlox, rudbeckia, and helenium (sneezeweed) play a prominent role.


Cresson Garden Fall 2014 9-6-2014 4-22-13 PMThe lespedeza on the back right is actually in a garden behind the fence and looks gorgeous there too.


Cresson Garden Fall 2014 9-6-2014 4-32-25 PMorange salvia, dahlias, cannas, and helenium


Cresson Garden Fall 2014 9-6-2014 4-32-35 PMrudbeckia, phlox, and salvia


It was fun to visit these two well-designed gardens and realize that the gardening season is not over after all.



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Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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29 Responses to “Two Fall Gardens”

  1. debsgarden Says:

    This is a testament to the beauty of fall gardens! The rich colors are so appealing. I confess that when I saw the title of your post, I thought I was going to see gardens featuring fall foliage, not flowers!

  2. These must have been fun to see in person. Both are lovely.

  3. Beautiful, both gardens look great! I love the salvias in both gardens, and the way they’re all blended together is brilliant. I wish I had a local herb society offering something like that!
    We had a light frost last night, the fall garden is on the run here in the mountains.

    • Frank, I am always torn this time of year between wanting the garden to go on forever and wishing for a final frost so I can get to work closing down. Of course, quite a few plants like cyclamen, beautyberry, and camellias are just starting to do their thing. Carolyn

  4. nwphillygardner Says:

    Carolyn, Are you familiar with the October-blooming shade plant Rabdosia longituba, aka tubesocks plant? It’s got airy scapes of tiny flowers, 3 to 4 feet tall – either white or periwinkle blue. Truth is, the plant is late to grow in, rather unremarkable until it flowers. But having something bloom in the shade this late in the season makes it a worthwhile plant to find.

  5. Beautiful gardens Carolyn. Many of the same flowers in these bloom earlier here and are gone by October, late Sept. I wish I could plant more dahlias. They do not grow well for me and then I have no reliable spot to store them if I lift them. But I do love them.

  6. Loved the Dahlias in the Krings property Carolyn, most of our garden is taken up with perennials but I have a few spots where I plan to have Dahlias in for next year. Charles Cresson’s garden, well, what can you say, (just my cup of tea)

  7. Hi Carolyn, did he happen to mention the name of the yellow sneezeweed/helenium? Mine stopped blooming in September! How I would love to see them in flower now.

  8. Wow, beautiful! I have some areas of annuals that are still going strong, but things are really winding down here, other than the sporadic plant. It’s great to see some gardens that have been specifically planned to peak in fall!

    • Indie, At this time of year, I often get anxious for things to wind down more quickly so I can clean it all out and be done, rather silly. After all the fall-blooming camellias haven’t started yet and the hardy cyclamen and toad-lily Sinonome are just coming into full bloom. Carolyn

  9. Wow! Wouldn’t I like to be there in person?!! 😉 thanks for the tour.

  10. Beautiful gardens! Thanks for sharing! They are really gorgeous!

  11. Love both of these stunning gardens, Carolyn. Your pictures, especially of the Cressen flower garden, make me want to widen all my borders. P. x

  12. Carolyn, Thank you for sharing these beautiful gardens. Not only was the wide garden beautiful, but behind the picket fence, there was More that added to complete the entire scene!

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