At their best in summer, warm-season annuals such as coleus (in center) continue right up to the first frost, adding bolts of color into early autumn. For more color from annuals, plant cool-season types, such as snapdragons and pansies, which keep going even after frost.
Another Japanese maple, 'Fireglow,' burns brilliant red. Japanese maples grow 10-20 feet high. Zones 5-8.
Although they peak in late summer, purple coneflowers take on a new, more spare, dimension in autumn. The seed heads also attract goldfinches. Grows 2-4 feet high; full sun. Zones 3-8.
Fountain grass is the moody beauty among ornamental grasses. The seed heads of this purple fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Atropurpureum') are buff-colored, but other fountain grasses produce seed heads in creamy white, pink, red, brown, or nearly black. Grows 1-7 feet; full sun. Zones 5-10.
Even as the growing season ends, this landscape is lovely. Fading perennials, stalwart annuals, and brilliant trees -- especially a flame red Japanese maple -- combine for a knockout late show.
This annual, wheat celosia (Celosia spicata), is a pretty companion to fall grasses and boasts bits of pink, which can be hard to find in autumn. It's an excellent dried flower. Grows to 3 feet; full sun.
Contrary to popular belief, goldenrod does not aggravate allergies. It's an excellent cut flower. Grows 2-4 feet; full sun. Zones 3-9.