There is a definite chill in the air. The days are slowly getting shorter and the nights are cooling off. To our dismay, this is a sure sign that fall is on its way.
The coming of fall does not signal the end of the garden season. It can be a very exciting and colorful place at this time of year. There are numerous trees and shrubs that are just waiting to put on a show of vivid reds, beaming yellows and burnt oranges to capture the eye. The spring and summer beds are looking a little tired and a change will bring it back to life.
The most widely known display of fall color comes from the (acer saccharum) more commonly known as the Sugar maple. Very prolific in the eastern provinces of Ontario and Quebec, it provides an amazing canvas of red, orange, and yellow over the gently rolling hills.
In British Columbia the Japanese maple (acer palmatum) is more suited in size for a smaller garden. Be sure to check the zone hardiness before purchasing any plants.
Ginkgo or Maidenhair tree is a slow growing tree with fan-shaped leaves that shows a shimmering, golden yellow color for fall. This under used tree will grow in sun or shade, enjoys moist well drained soil, but will need the room to spread out. This ancient tree is a living fossil and widely cultivated. Be sure to select only named male cultivars as the fruit of the female of the species smells like rancid butter.
Katsuras are also stand out trees. With its heart shaped leaves and pyramidal form it commands a prominent spot in a large garden. They also come in a pendulous or weeping form.
Their fall colors range from yellow to apricot and the leaves give off a spicy aroma.
Some of the most outstanding fall color comes from shrubs. The Burning Bush (euonymus alatus) is a hardy shrub, easy to grow and generally deer resistant.
Its name comes from the glowing shades of red and pink foliage in the fall. Some variety’s of euonymus can be invasive, so give this shrub plenty of room to grow.
The Fothergilla is an underused shade shrub becoming more popular for its firey fall foliage. It has an open and airy growing habit. It also has the benefit of honey sweet bushy blooms in the spring. This shrub is an excellent pairing with rhododendrons and azaleas spicing up foundation plantings.
Don’t forget flowering shrubs like the hydrangea. Now that the weather is cooling off the beautiful white blooms on the ‘Strawberry-Vanilla’ or’ Pinky –Winky’ are turning to stunning pink and red tinges before your eyes. As the fall progresses the colors deepen to make a standout display.
It is important in garden design when considering plant material to not only know its growing habit in spring and summer, but consider how it will fit into the landscape with its fall coloring. Any of these trees or shrubs in a garden design will provide fantastic color, texture and eye catching appeal.
Betty Drover operates a local garden business and shares this space with business partner Patty Siddall every other Friday. Contact: 250-364-1005