“This is my season,” says Grace Kennedy, a garden designer based in Garrison, NY. Give her autumn over all the other seasons and she’d be happy. For 18 years she’s been creating gardens for clients in the lower Hudson Valley and honing her talents in her own garden, a rolling 2.5-acre former cow pasture and farmhouse along the Hudson River with mountain views.
She gardens in all seasons, but it’s the fall that ignites her spirit. The colors, the textures, smells, light, and the cooler temperatures are all part of its appeal and are a welcome break after the wilting heat of summer. The garden is rejuvenated for its final act, with plenty of fruit, berries, and seed heads in abundance. Everything is in motion, from the frenzy of the feeding birds and insects to the grass plumes blowing in the breezes. There’s nothing somber about this time of year; it’s the season of abundance before the quiet, dormant winter.
Photographs by Meredith Heuer.
Above: Garden designer Grace Kennedy in front of her vegetable and cutting garden.
Autumn is a great time to shop for plants. Grace is still receiving plant orders and driving around in her pickup (with Dorothy, her mischievous terrier, at her side) to her favorite nurseries to score late-season deals. People tend to think the plant shopping season is over come Labor Day, but there’s so much that can be found–and often at better prices.
Grace’s favorite fall plant picks include shrubs with colorful berries: Snowberry ‘Sweet Sensation’; Ilex Opaca ‘Xanthocrapa’ (available for $24.95 from Forest Farm), and Beautyberry (Callicarpa ‘Purple Pearls’ is $28.99 from Proven Winners). She also recommends grasses such as Calmagrostis brachytricha ‘Rose Bedder’ and fall-blooming flowers like Amsonias (see below) and Aster ‘Bluebird’ ($9.95 each from Bluestone Perennials).
Above: In Grace’s garden, (L) tall Ironweed (Vernonia altissima), a native of North America that can reach up to 5 feet, mixes with blades of Miscanthus ‘Morning Light.’ Pairing the blues (R) are Aster ‘Bluebird’ and Digitalis ferruginea.
Above: Lacey backlit fennel against a fall sky.
Above: Verascum chaixii var. album (L). Two Lespedeza thunbergii ‘Gilbraltar’ and ‘Pink Fountain’ (R), with their reaching and cascading gestures, can be cut to the ground in spring.
Above: Veronica altissima seed heads with the plumes of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio.’
Above: One of Grace’s long perennial borders is planted with white Phlox paniculata ‘David’; Echinacea ‘Coconut Lime’; Platycodon; Aster ‘Bluebird’ and Digitalis ferruginea.
Above: A study in texture and subtle tones, the feathery foliage of Amsonia hubrechtii and rounder blue-ish leaves of Baptisia australis.
Above: A view across the lawn to the meandering perennial border, with the mountain in the distance.
Above: Grace and her husband Tim’s home, an old farmhouse in Garrison, NY.