21 October 2008

Blaze of Glory, Part the First

The other day I had some errands to do for researching a story, and took a side excursion to walk my camera around some autumn splendouriferous colour. Started off at a local nursery which proved without question that there are some spectacular shrubs for fall colour. 

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!


  1. oh how I'd love some Autumn color! We stay too warm for much of anything to color. Our leaves just turn brown. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I agree, jodi -- the color this year is positively fluorescent! Best it's been for years. Thanks for the tour and for some more delicious color! A trip to Acadia is one I planned to make before the wind snatched all the leaves away -- looks like I'd better make it quick!

  3. wonderful collection of autumn colors - I love double hydrangea.

  4. Maybe it is becuase it looks so good next to the photo of Mungus, but I keep coming back to the double-flowered Oakleaf Hydrangea.

    The delicate old world colours of your photo have cast an autumn spell on me. I hope it does well on your east side.

    Do you know the name of the Hydrangea?


  5. So very nice Jodi. The autumn is very bright and colourful here as well this year, perhaps the nature does that to make up for the miserable summer. Beautiful picture as always Jodi./ Tyra xoxo

  6. Thank you for a lovely post and beautiful pictures. To pick one for my 'covet notebook' it would be Rosa virginiana I have just the place to put it!

    Our autumn colour has been lovely this year as well, we are told it is due to a wet summer! What do you believe! Anyway the combination of weather over the seasons has been right to give us some of our best colours this year. Nothing like some of the pictures I have been seeing from the USA but good for us.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  7. What gorgeous fall color Jodi! I absolutely love serviceberries. From spring to fall they're beautiful shrubs.

    I looked for winterberries around here this year but couldn't find a nursery that had them. I may resort to ordering a pair online. I have a spot on the edge of our small bog where I think they'd be very happy.

    The sugar maples are breathtaking, as are all the golds, burgundies, reds, and oranges. I'm now smitten too with the double-flowered Oakleaf Hydrangea! Gorgeous!

  8. That hydrangea is truly lovely. I must look out for that at the garden centre.

  9. What a riot of color, Jodi! I love this time of year, and this year fall has been spectacular.

  10. It 's time to stretch and look up at the glory instead of across or down at the gardens. It makes me feel more expansive.

  11. I bought a secend serviceberry this year and my mother, the master gardener, asked why I need two. WHAT? Because the fall color is amazing! I just bought one of those 'golden spirit' smokes and it's still yellow / green--I had no idea the color got so cool. Yay! And viburnums, oh yes. I planted 6 this year! Gotta go out with a bang, not a whimper!

  12. Jodi ~ What a wonderful autumnal tour! Working at a local garden center, I get to see much of the splendor firsthand. Your photos and descriptions are just perfect. Particularly enjoyed your woodland photos. /Deb

  13. Jodi ... I think that is VERY true about having more moisture in the ground from the summer .. to make the Autumn leaves far more brilliant this year .. it has been gorgeous here in Ontario. It looks amazing where you are too.
    I am also very smitten by that oak leaf hydrangea (what is the cultivar ?) .. and I may have to move my "Golden Spirit" to a sunnier position to get those fantastic colours to set in.
    Beautiful plants, each and everyone of them !

  14. Such amazing fall color! WOW! I'd be smitten by the hydrangea too. And I can almost smell the smells of your fall walk. Thank you!!!!


  15. Our color was the best in years, down here, too. We have had wind all day, so most of our leaves are down this evening.

    I have noticed on most of the gardening blogs that we are already looking toward next spring. Any of those beauties you posted today would be welcome in mine.

  16. Beautiful autumn colors Jodi. Popcorn?? Yes, I think I will have some while I snuggle under the blanket and read some more.

  17. A 'brilliant' post, Jodi! I'm more than smitten ... I've fallen in love with the double-flowered Oakleaf Hydrangea. Always a nut for oakleaf hydrangeas, do think you might have luck. I oogle mine here and though 'Poo-pooded' for planting up north at the lake, I took the challenge and mine is thriving because of the tempered climate near water and close to the cabin.

    So keep us posted if you give this new beauty a try ... 'cause I crave one too! (And, I think we had this discussion before, you can never have too many serviceberries ~ Amelanchier, shadblows, Juneberry, etc.)

  18. Gorgeous colours! Ontario's had a great autumn, too. Lots of oranges this year.

    I just wish the colours would stay on the trees longer and that I didn't have to rake the leaves.

    Beautiful post!

  19. A blaze of glory doesn't begin to describe it. Stunning colours, simply and breath takingly stunning.

    That double-flowered Oakleaf Hydrangea has my name written all over it so you can't have it, it's mine! ;-) Thanks for showing your splendid autumn!

  20. GASP! These colors are glorious! I have a winterberry in my yard that's bending dangerously under the weight of a gazillion berries. The autumn colors are only just beginning here, as I can see the tree tops changing colors. Today's rain and change in temps will help. Beautiful post!

  21. Those colors are so vibrant. I only hope that once our trees begin to turn down here that they can halfway match what you just showed. I love those viburnums and really want to add some winterberry hollies somewhere. I just need to figure out where!

  22. Hi Jodi, hope this finds you feeling well. I was flabberghasted at your color and then read your statement about the rain making for a better show. Sadly here, the drought may be the problem with our lack of color. The winterberries are native here also, what a huge range they have! Ours are loaded with berries this year. I did not realize that smoke tree had fall color like that, it will get a second look. The double flower hydrangea is a crowd favorite, it gets my vote as well.


  23. Wow, Jodi, you sure do have some brilliant color up there! I've got a few of the things you show here and I need to get a post up about the autumn color here at Our Little Acre. I'll make that my next assignment. It seems like it comes and goes so quickly.

    Your pictures show off the colors there just perfectly!

  24. Maples make me happy, too but that Oakleaf Hydrangea stopped me dead in my tracks. I've got to have one. What's the zone? Do I have a prayer of growing such a lovely thing?

  25. Stupendous colours. I'm not sure I'd want to live in a really cold climate, and the only time I spent a year in the north (in Finland, roughly parallel with Alaska, so further north than you, the lack of light in winter really depressed me. But oh those autumn colours. We have nothing like it this far south.

  26. Gorgeous photos! I esp loved the double flowered hydrangea. At first glance it looked a bit like a very strange tuberose...

    i bet you can grow PeeGee hydrangeas up there; the ones that hang in long clusters, smell like sweet cream, and turn rosy in the fall.

  27. Lovely, Jodi! And I'll buy the "because it was NOT so dry" explanation for the color, because we HAVE been dry and our colors are not so bright this year.

    I have the Albury purple hypericum, as well as a yellow-foliage variety. They weren't so vibrant this year, but then they were little Bluestone Perennials purchases and they were small this year yet. I'm hoping for a better show next year--when the 'Albury Purple' gets the bright yellow flowers and red berries, it puts on quite a show. We used to have it in the first garden center where I worked, and I adored it. :)

  28. We have had a few of these 'golden' days although not today, cold and rainy. I can imagine sitting next to you under the 'senior' maples and experiencing the scent and warm honey light of the trees. I am making a note of that hypericum! Wish list!

  29. Great pictures and I've added a few things to my wish list now too. And I heartily agree with you re. Amelanchiers - I have only one in my tiny garden so far but 9 more sounds about right. (Do you have any trouble with cedar-apple rust up there? My poor stressed out new tree got it this summer...)

  30. Ahh, dear Jodi...the wind has cleared our trees this week, so I had to visit your space today for one last look at a glorious Atlantic autumn.

    It reminds me that another year has passed and I have not paid a visit to your garden. Sigh.


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