I really expected most of my October color to be provided in the form of foliage. I swear that by this time last year, my 'Halcyon" hostas were beginning a very punk, acid yellow phase and the tips of my 'Rotstrahlbusch' switchgrasses were a dark, brooding red. Both plants are still looking rather attached to their summer blues and greens right now, however, while a surprisingly large number of other plants are still in bloom.
Not only do I have a lot in bloom... but many of the flowers showing off right now are, of all colors, white! The wonderfully scented tobacco, nicotiana sylvestris. The white brushtips of chocolate eupatorium. A stray white Japanese anemone that snuck in amongst the pinks somehow.
I think I have mentioned before that I dislike white blooms and the way they age--picture the browning mush at the end of a branch of white petunia here--and that white flowers seem a little harsh to me through the summer months.
I am discovering that I really enjoy white flowers in the fall, however. Maybe it's because my fall whites tend to be small and dainty, like these blooms on the toadlily 'Lightning Strike.' Maybe it's because the slants of fall sunlight seem to illuminate the flowers instead of bouncing off of them flatly like they do when the sun is more directly overhead.
Or maybe they're just a relief to my eyes after the smoldering colors of September. Something to clean the palate, so to speak, before autumnal colors begin to dazzle. Probably all of the above.
The other big contributors to flower color right now are the herbs. Here you see the lovely light blue of 'Huntington Carpet' rosemary in bloom. I grow other rosemaries for taste so I don't know if it has much culinary value, but it certainly cascades nicely through a huge lemongrass.
I haven't been able to stop my cinnamon and lemon basils from blooming all summer, but now an unnamed dark purple variety (a cutting from a friend) is joining the show. My melon sage is covered in warm red blooms, and my golden pineapple sage is flowering in a true fire-engine-red hue. Common oregano is blooming, too, for the first time this year. Just as it was preparing to bloom earlier this summer, I cut it back to harvest the leaves for cooking.
Following is a list of all of my October blooms, with N=New, R=rebloom, F=Fading:
'Ozark' alpine strawberries (R)
echinacea purpureas: 'Merlot' (R) and 'White Swan' (F)
Chocolate Eupatorium (N)
'Sioux Blue' sorgahstrum nutens (F)
hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'
'Whiskey' wax begonias
'Lightnight Strike' tricyrtis
'Hillside Black Beauty' actaea (nee cimicifuga) F
'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth
'Golden Delicious' pineapple sage (N)
basils: lemon, cinnamon, dark purple leaf unnamed
unnamed toad lily (possibly 'Taipei silk'?)
'Othello' ligularia (ugh--flowers will be removed)
cannas: 'Wyoming,' 'Red King Humbert,' 'Red Dazzler'
'Huntington Carpet' rosemary
'Yubi Red' portulaca
'Rotstrahlbusch' panicum virgatum
achillea 'Paprika' (R)
various coleus (oops)
dark red new guinea impatiens
zauschneria latifolia v. etteri
Japanese anemones: 'Party Dress,' 'Robustissima' and unnamed white
'Walker's Low' catmint
silene maritima 'Compacta'
sedum sieboldii (F)
sedum cauticola 'Lidakense' (F)
salvia lyrata 'Purple Knockout'
northern sea oats
'Petite Bleu' caryopteris
*edited to add: