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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In the Garden: Eye-catching array as autumn looms

Friends of Manito volunteer Jo Lennstrom prepares perennials for the upcoming fall plant sale in Manito Park. (Susan Mulvihill/For The Spokesman-Review)
Friends of Manito volunteer Jo Lennstrom prepares perennials for the upcoming fall plant sale in Manito Park. (Susan Mulvihill/For The Spokesman-Review)

Even though I am struggling with the realization that fall is just around the corner, there is a lot to look forward to soon: glorious days, colorful foliage and the Friends of Manito’s legendary fall plant sale.

Scheduled for Sept. 7 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., the sale will be just east of the Gaiser Conservatory in Spokane’s Manito Park. It will feature more than 200 varieties of sun- and shade-loving perennials, ornamental grasses, groundcovers, shrubs and edible plants.

After perusing the online plant list, there are several that just might be destined for a spot in my landscape and perhaps in yours, too. My criteria are low maintenance and eye-catching blossoms or interesting foliage. If they attract pollinators and are deer-resistant, so much the better.

Nothing says fall like chrysanthemums, which bloom prolifically and are hardy down to USDA zone 4. Look for Triumph (butterscotch blossoms), Shaman’s Vision (white blooms) and Purple Waters (rosy-purple). The first two will grow in full sun to part shade, but Purple Waters needs full sun to grow well.

Another reliable fall bloomer is the New England aster. Purple Dome grows 18 inches tall and wide and is hardy down to zone 3. It attracts pollinators and prefers full sun.

Coreopsis, or tickseed, is one of those perky standouts in the garden. While I’m attracted to the abundant yellow blossoms and lacy foliage of Creme Brulee, the fiery orange flowers of Crazy Cayenne also warrant a close look. Sun-loving coreopsis attracts pollinators, grows up to 18 inches tall and is hardy to zone 5.

One plant that wasn’t initially on my radar is Sunstruck false sunflower (Heliopsis). While its plentiful golden flowers are cheerful, the delicately variegated foliage has won me over. The plants also are a manageable height of 16 inches. Hardy to zone 4, Sunstruck will grow in full sun to part shade and is sure to bring in the bees.

Always popular with gardeners, coneflowers (Echinacea) really stand out in flower beds with their brightly colored blossoms. I love how easy they are to care for, as well as their long bloom period. The flowers are pollinator magnets, and I always leave their seed heads in place for the birds to nibble on during the winter.

There will be several offerings at the sale, but Canary has really caught my eye with its 5-inch-wide yellow flowers, drought tolerance and hardiness down to zone 3.

If you’ve got shade and love hostas, but are plagued by slugs, listen to this: Rainforest Sunrise is slug-resistant due to the thickness of its foliage. The leaves are light green to start, then develop dark green borders with gold centers. Hardy to zone 4, this plant will grow 10 inches tall and sounds like a winner to me.

In addition to a large variety of plants, shoppers can check out the home and garden decor, live music and petting zoo. Master Gardeners and pollinator experts will be available to answer questions.

All proceeds from the fall plant sale support Manito Park improvements. Members of the Friends of Manito receive 10% off their plant purchases, and new members may join during the sale.

Susan Mulvihill is co-author, with Pat Munts, of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook.” Contact her at Watch this week’s “Everyone Can Grow a Garden” video on

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