This is the time of perfection for perennial grasses, whether Miscanthus, Calamagrostis, Panicum or any of a number of other species. They look lovely underplanted with hostas which are also turning gold.
This double-flowered Oakleaf Hydrangea has me completely smitten, not only for its exquisite flowers but also for the splendid foliage colours it flashes. It's a bit iffy for my garden, but I figure if I plant it on the east side of the house away from the most virulent of our winter winds, it should be okay.
I'm very partial to viburnums, although in my windy autumn yard they often lose their leaves before their colour gets really going. This Popcorn viburnum, however, is breathtaking, wouldn't you agree?
Maples (Acers) of all kinds make me happy except for Norway maple (A. saccharinum); I have a few in my yard that someone planted years ago but despite not loving them, I can't bear to cut them done. This, however, is the enthusiastic and brilliantly coloured Acer ginnala, the amur maple. Sometimes it has deeper crimson colour, but at present this one is luminous with gold.
And speaking of luminous colour...how about this? I can't grow Cotinus, or smoke bush, because it just doesn't appreciate the winds of the Bay. But when I see this gorgeous variety, 'Golden Spirit', it makes me so very, very tempted to try it.
This, on the other hand, I most assuredly can grow! It's St. John's Wort, Hypericum millupteris Albery Purple. It stopped me dead in my tracks when I saw it, and I wrote a note in my 'covet notebook' to purchase next year. Yes, not til then. I have so much cleanup and preparation to do to be even half ready for next spring.
One of the shrubs I recommend to everyone I can think of is the Canada Holly or winterberry, Ilex verticillata. It's native here in Nova Scotia, and it's a beautiful shrub or small tree that forms thickets in damp areas. Like other hollies its dioescious, needing both male and female plants in order to produce berries. Once it drops its leaves in late autumn, the berries glow with brilliant colour; at least until birds eat them.
Speaking of native plants, after I was done at the nursery I took myself up to Acadia University and the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens, which carry a huge selection of our native plants. Right now, the wild Rosa virginiana is among the most marvelously coloured of all fall shrubs.
Another of my favourite natives is the shadbush, serviceberry, chucklypear, Indian pear...Amelanchier. One of the first to flower in the spring, its fall colour is remarkable this year. Every garden should have an amelanchier or two or ten.
The beeches are glowing gold or bronze this year; my purple beech is turning politely bronze, but this wild beech had me smiling because its fabulous gold was really lighting up the woods.
This is, of course, not a native tree, but because it's a mature tree the designers of the Irving Botanical Garden decided to leave it, and a huge European beech, where they were standing. I love the beech, but the ginkgo is a tree I've often sat under to contemplate the mysteries of life. Its golden coloured foliage in autumn makes a real statement. My own ginkgo is only four feet tall and many years from being large enough for me to sit under.
In the deciduous woodlands part of the garden, the sugar maples are just at the peak of their incredible rainbow spectrum.
I've heard that because this summer was not so dry (NO KIDDING!!!!), the foliage colour is much better on all kinds of trees and shrubs. I'd certainly agree--last year was not nearly as brilliant as this year, at least around here. Are you finding that where you live?
They really are luminescent this year, wouldn't you say?
In this little grove, I sat on a stump of an ancient tree and contemplated these senior sugar maples. Everything about this afternoon was golden and lovely and sensory. The fragrance of leaves and soil, the singing of birds and chirring of squirrels and chipmunks, the colours of leaves still on trees and making patterns on the ground. One could not feel gloomy in such an array of light.
Back at the Irving Centre, I stopped by the conservatory in the courtyard to oogle and google and sigh over these shrubs. The clipped ones are Myrica, or bayberry; and the incandescently coloured ones are different species of Vaccinium, or blueberries; a professor at Acadia has been researching Vaccinium species worldwide for many years, and has a number of native species planted out. They're doing brilliantly, wouldn't you say?
That's it for this time, but there's more to come next time!