The rains have finally come and we walk briskly under the lead players of fall colour; Acer, Fraxinus, Liquidambar. While we scurry about all bundled up trying to keep dry, we could stop for just a moment and take a look below the great conflagration at the less know but no less spectacular plants that vie for a spot in fall's grand cavalcade of colour.
Golden Smoke BushCotinus coggygria 'Golden Spirit'
Discovered in the Netherlands this unique selection has rounded leaves of lime green to brilliant gold.
A wonderful golden accent that prefers a sunny location and unlike many golden forms the foliage will not scorch unless it gets very hot and dry.
Airy smoke-like clusters of fawn coloured flowers in summer and finally in fall the bright golden leaves take on an infusion of coral, orange and red. A real winner all round. Height: 2.5-3m Spread: 2m Zone: 4
Oakleaf HydrangeaHydrangea quercifolia
Bold, deeply lobed leaves of dark green leather give a strong presence in the garden. In fall they turn a rich burgundy-red to mahogany. Large cones of white flowers that often fade to pink grace the midsummer season.
As plants age the older reddish-brown stems exfoliate their cinnamon bark for an added winter interest. Several selections are available in the trade, each with their own charm: 'Alice', 'Pee Wee', 'Snow Queen', 'Snowflake' and 'Little Honey' a stunning compact growing yellow foliage cultivar (see article Gold Fever for more info.). Height: 1-4m Spread: 1-4m Zone: 6
Adaptable broadleaf evergreen shrubs for part shade to shade. The long narrow leaves are glossy and dark green in colour and mix well with other shade tolerant shrubs, perennials and ferns. The arching stems give plants a relaxed, flowing appearance and the pendulous clusters of small white flowers in early spring are a pleasant bonus.
Being evergreen these plants do not drop their leaves but instead take on purple, burgundy, plum and red tones through the colder months. Best if grown in soil with even moisture. Some good selections to look for are: L. axillaris, L. fontanesiana 'Nana', 'Rainbow' and L. 'Scarletta' Height: 60-125cm Spread: 60-175cm Zone: 5
Most think of the humble blueberry as something one grows in the "veggie" patch along with raspberries, gooseberries and the like, or we see them as vast acres of plantings managed by a mass of workers. However the humble little blueberry can be grown for more than just fruit.
Blueberries are highly adaptable to our West coast climate and are very easy to grow in most soil types under full sun exposure. Plants themselves have crisp, green to deep green foliage which makes a great back foil for other plants. Clusters of white bell-like flowers appear in early spring followed in summer by the well-known delicious berry which comes in varying shades of blue with a unique selection 'Pink Lemonade' being bright pink.
However in fall this unassuming shrub can utterly delight as it's green leaves give way to shades of orange, yellow, burgundy and scarlet. Give them a try as part of a mixed border, foundation planting or container specimen. Height: 45-175cm Spread: 60-200cm Zone: 2-6
Doublefile ViburnumViburnum plicatum
Great "Old Fashioned" deciduous shrub with a multistemmed habit and broad horizontal branches giving an overall layered effect. Numerous clusters of flat topped white flowers (or rarely pink) in spring followed by red fruit that matures to black (attractive to birds).
The fresh dark green foliage is handsome on it's own but in fall it really gives a punch of colour, turning a rich reddish purple. Plants grow well in most soil types but prefer a moist, well drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Some good varieties to look for are: 'Mariesii', 'Pink Beauty', 'Popcorn', 'Shasta' and 'Summer Snowflake' Height: 1.5-3m Spread: 1.5-3m Zone: 5
Other great plants for fall colour are:
- Azalea (deciduous forms)
- Nandina domestica
- Rhus typhina
- Spirea japonica
These and many other plants with great fall colour are usually available at Art's Nursery. As always, please call (604.882.1201)ahead to confirm availability, as our selection is always changing.