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Autumn colour in your garden

The Ontario countryside in the fall is a spectacularly colourful landscape that we all admire and enjoy. Many of us make special trips to view the brilliant colours of Maples and waysides adorned with Goldenrod and Asters. But where is the colour in our own garden?

In planning our gardens, we very logically begin at the beginning. Spring flowering bulbs are followed by the early flowering shrubs such as Flowering Almond, Japanese Cherries and others. We realize that these flower only for a short time and look for other shrubs and trees for continuing colour throughout the summer: Deutzia, Mockorgange, Weigela and of course, Roses.

Soon, our garden space is fully planted and only in September do we realize that we have neglected to include the late flowering shrubs and those with brilliant fall foliage. Burning Bush (Euonymus alatas) is one popular shrub that is widely used but there are many more that can enhance your garden in the fall and extend your season of colour to the fullest.

Colourful Vines
Boston Ivy and Virginia Creeper (Engelman's Ivy) are highly colourful in fall. Virginia Creeper bears a heavy crop of black berries. Bittersweet Vine has colourful seed coverings. The three-parted orange husk opens to reveal bright orange and red fruit. Only the female plant bears fruit and must be planted together with a male plant for pollination.

The plants listed below will let you take advantage of the change of season and keep your garden interesting and colourful until the heavy frosts and first snow of winter.

Perennials for Fall Colour

Common NameLatin NameColour
SneezewortAchillea ptarmicawhite
YarrowA. taygeteayellow
MonkshoodAconitumblue
Japanese AnemoneAnemone japonicapink/white
MugwortArtemisia lactiflorawhite
Italian AsterAster amellusblue, purple
New England AsterA. novae-angliaepurple, pink, white
New York AsterA. novi-belgiiviolet. (The Feast Day of St. Michael is September 29, and these asters are also called Michaelmas Daisy)
BoltoniaB. asteroideswhite
Carpathian HarebellCampanula carpaticablue
ChrysanthemumC. x morifoliumGarden Chrysanthemums come in a wide variety of colours and shapes
Coreopsis yellow (flowering since June, will still be flowering in Sept.
Purple ConeflowerEchinacea purpureapurple
Globe ThistleEchinopsblue
GallardiaG. x grandiflora(still flowering since June) red and yellow
SneezeweedHelenium autumnalebronze, yellow
SunflowerHelianthus x multiflorus & H. decapetalusyellow
HeliopsisHeliopsisyellow
CoralbellsHeuchera(still flowering since May) red, pink, white
Rose MallowHibiscus moscheutosred, pink, white
Hosta'Honeybells'blue
Hosta'Royal Standard'(fragrant) white
LamiumL. maculatumlilac
Gay Feather (Blazing Star)Liatrus spp.lilac, purple, white
Cardinal FlowerLobelia cardinalisscarlet
Blue Cardinal Fl.L. siphiliticablue
CatmintNepeta spp.blue
Giant SundropOenothera missourensisyellow
PhloxPhlox paniculata(flowering since July)pink, white
False Dragonhead (Obedient Plant)Physostegia spp.white, pink, purple
Balloon FlowerPlatycodon spp.blue, white
Black-eyed SusanRudbeckia spp.yellow
Sedum Autumn JoySedum spectabilepink, mauve
Greek MallowSidalcea spp.pink
GoldenrodSolidago spp.yellow

The fall flowering Goldenrod is maligned and ignored by Canadian gardeners, no doubt because it grows wild everywhere and is perhaps considered a weed. In Britain, where it is less common, Goldenrod is highly valued.

Trees for Fall Colour
Common NameLatin NameColour
Sugar MapleAcer saccharumorange and red
Red MapleAcer rubrumred
Other Maplesyellow, orange and red
Red OakQuercus rubrared
Pin OakQ. palustrisred
KatsuraCercidiphylumorange-red
AshFraxinusmainly yellow
Mountain AshSorbusorange, red, yellow
GinkgoGinkgo bilobamyellow
LarchLarixyellow
Dawn RedwoodMetasequoiagolden

Shrubs for Fall Colour
Common NameLatin NameColour
Wayfaring TreeViburnum lantanapurple/bronze
ArrowwoodV. dentatumorange/red
ServiceberryAmelanchieryellow/orange
SmoketreeCotinuspurple/red
SumacRhusorange/red
BlueberryVacciniumorange
DogwoodCornusreds and orange
Burning BushEuonymus alatasred
Spindle treeE. europaeared
Amur MapleAcer ginnalared
Hedge MapleA. campestrisyellow

Shrubs with Colourful Berries
Common NameLatin NameColour
CoralberrySymphoricarpospurple/pink
SnowberryS. albuswhite
CotoneasterCotoneasterred
FirethornPyracanthaorange/red
HollyIlexred
WinterberryI. verticillatared
CranberryViburnumred
Redleaf RoseRosa glaucared

Shrubs that Flower in the Fall
Common NameLatin NameColour
BluebeardCaryopterisblue
Butterfly BushBuddleiapurple, blue, pink, white
PeeGee HydrangeaHydrangeawhite/pink
Witch HazelHamamelisyellow

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