Aster 'Liitle Carlow' and the ornamental grass Calamagrostis brachytricha have a simultaneous peak. The yellow foliage of Ligustrum sinense 'Variegata' and the claret foliage of Hibiscus acetosella "Maple Sugar' have contrasted well the entire season. Dahlia 'Ellen Houston', a purple gomphrena, Salvia 'Indigo Spires' and Cuphea 'Bat Face' complete the picture. This is the denouement of the mixed border. The moment when the annuals, shrubs and perennials and ornamental grasses climax before the first frost.
This past week the most admired plant has been Calamagrostis brachytricha, a Piet Ouldolf staple. It is hardy to Zone 4 and has pink-toned feathery flower heads beginning the last week of September that last throughout the winter. It has a tendency to politely self-seed here in New Hampshire but it easy to weed out the seedlings. A gardening friend, who has just acquired the plant, is planning to use the flowers for arrangements in the house which will provide the added bonus of not having to worry about unwanted progeny.
My personal favorite in the mixed border is Cuphea 'Bat Face'. It is an excellent front-of-the-border and container plant. It flowers continuously throughout the season without requiring deadheading. When examined closely, the purple and carmine flowers do in fact look like a bat's face. To top it all off, these hues mix well with a variety of colors in the border or container.