Fall is planting time for grains, vegetables, herbs, and flowers native to dry Mediterranean climates. Wheat, Poppies, Mullein, and Fava beans are examples of crops from that growth pattern.
In colder, temperate climates, there are many perennials that drop their seeds in late summer, spend the winter in cold moist soil, and sprout as the weather warms in spring.
Plants that started life in cool coastal climates seldom thrive in very hot dry weather. Instead, we grow them in spring or Fall, mimicking the fog of a cool oceanic summer.
When you add all of these plant types together, the number of seeds that like to be planted into cool soil is about as large as the number that like heat. Any experienced gardener knows that lettuce, cabbage, peas, spinach, and so on are a major part of the gardener's year. But fewer gardeners realize how many flowers and herbs should be fall-planted. You can see the choices HERE
Poppies are an example of an overwintering annual. Planted in the Fall, they can make a rosette of leaves before growth stops in winter, and a strong deep root. When the weather warms up, that established plant gets big and blooms profusely. (Zones 4, 5 and 6 should plant in very early spring--you can sprinkle seed on the snow.) Seeds planted in warm spring weather will still bloom, but the plants will not be as large and the number of blooms correspondingly smaller.
Echinacea, Anise Hyssop, Marshmallow, Valerian, Nettle, Meadowsweet, Good King Henry, and Bee Balm are examples of temperate plants that sprout better if they go through the winter in the soil rather than in a dry warm place. You can sow them in deep pots and leave them out to get snow and rain, but protect them from rodents and birds. As the days warm in spring, they will sprout.
Kale, Arugula, Spinach, Escarole, and Cabbage are familiar vegetables that thrive in damp, cool maritime weather. Some herbs and flowers that share this trait are alyssum, calendula, nasturtium, violets, delphiniums, daffodils, clover, mint, astragalus, chervil, cilantro, and fennel.
When planting for fall and winter, there are a few things you can do to speed up the process and give your plants their best chance.