To coincide with my Chronicle Herald column for today, I thought I'd blither on a bit more about the joys of foliage for autumn. But before we get too far into my rhapsodic ramblings about leaf colour, a brief public service announcement. It's been far too long since I did a 'SpotLight Saturday' post, primarily because life got in the way what with garden season being full steam ahead, coupled with book writing and other work that pays the bills whilst book writing...Something had to give, and so the amount of time spent reading blogs fell off. Now that gardening is winding down and the days are much shorter, there's more time to read...and I like to encourage and promote other blogs, so I'll try to do these more often.
I first became aware of Dirt Gently's Horticultural Adventures because the blogger appeared in my Twitter feed as a new follower. Naturally, as a Douglas Adams fan I was completely smitten with the blog title...and a quick visit showed me this was a fun blog to follow. Great photos, and some self-effacing humour about gardening skills. The blog was only started in September, so a little encouragement from fellow bloggers is always a good thing.
Disclosure: I look after the blog for Baldwin Nurseries, and it's a work in progress. Baldwin's is one of my favourite nurseries in the province, and Robert is a good friend who loves plants, especially natives and those that are good for pollinators. So while 'he' may not comment much on other people's blogs, I do hope you'll visit and leave comments for him to enjoy. And come see the nursery, of course. It's getting a bit late in the season now, but he has plenty of great shrubs for fall and winter colour.
For those of you in Canada who watch CBC, Rob is participating in Debbie Travis's show All for One, tonight at 9 pm. I know very little about the show as I'm not a fan of home decorating shows, but I do know that tonight's show was shot in Windsor, NS. So I hope fans will tune in!
Which brings me back to blathering on about foliage. Dawn redwood (Metasequoia) is one of my favourite of non-native trees, with its graceful growth habit and interesting history. Before the needles of this deciduous conifer fall, they turn bronzy gold, and their spring colour is also bronze toned. The winter interest is in its striated, striking bark and elegant form.
A four-season beauty, the native red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) has some excellent colour in its foliage. Once the leaves drop, the twigs show off brilliant red colour all winter. The cultivar 'Flaviramea' has golden twigs. You need to keep this shrub well-pruned so that it has plenty of new growth--older trunks lose their winter colour.
This photo is NOT mine. Although I have two burning bushes (Euonymus alatus) in my garden, getting decent photos of them has been a challenge since they began turning colour, because of the incessant wind. So I decided to turn to Google for help, and chose this Botany Photo of the Day shot so as to also promote UBC's excellent website. In today's column, I mention how I receive regular emailed photos at this time of year, wondering what "that" shrub is with the great colour. This is "that" shrub.
I wholeheartedly recommend ninebarks to everyone wanting a great four-season shrub. Most of them have interesting coloured foliage all gardening season, deepening to richer shades as autumn comes on. This is 'Diabolo', a purple-leafed cultivar that is an excellent, hardworking, easy care shrub.
The deciduous azaleas turn colour before losing their leaves, although they've been highly annoyed by the wind this autumn and have been more battered than colourful. This is an unnamed variety from Bill and Sharon at The Willow Garden. I have a number of their tough, beautiful rhododendron and azaleas, including several crosses that haven't been named.
Kolkwitzia is one of those plants that some refer to as old-fashioned, commonly planted and just sort of "there" in the garden. I love it for several reasons, not the least of which is the delicately luminous colour in fall foliage. 'Dreamcatcher' has richer colouring throughout the season, but mine was mown down by an errant lawnmower last year and is slowly recovering. So this is the common variety, given to me by a friend several years ago.
Barberries are excellent for fall colour. This is a seedling shrub from one of the purple leafed varieties in my garden. It's getting redder day by day.
Although the fall colour of my copper beech isn't showstoppingly brilliant, I include this photo for another reason. Beeches and oaks display a trait known as marcescence, meaning they retain their foliage for months after it has died. Usually it's younger trees that will do this, and my copper beech is only a few years old. Come winter, its coppery-brown leaves will look quite interesting--especially when there's a four-foot snowdrift surrounding the tree!
Many perennials will display some interesting fall colour as they wind down for the year. This is 'Alma Potchsche' New England aster, flowers faded but foliage still providing me with a smile.
And to wrap up, the always-wonderful foliage of Virginia creeper, catching some rays of sunlight on a day when the wind WASN'T screaming--a circumstance that has been rare this autumn, as I've mentioned before.
The montage at the top of this post includes Miscanthus 'Malepartus', showing great tints in its foliage; euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow', which I'm hoping is going to make it through the winter here with a little care; and 'Brilliance' autumn fern (Dryopteris), which has gorgeous foliage all through the growing season.
Okay, it's over to you, fellow bloggers: what are your favourite plants for fall colour?