Fall Color Ilona Erwin Oct 10, 2003


One thing that sometimes surprises is the wonderful leaf colors of some perennials. Right now, in my garden the platycodons are turning the most wonderful yellows and gold. The hostas also turn this color and they stand out against the purples of shrubs such a the purple sand cherry.

Daylilies ( Hemerocallis) and Siberian Irises also have spiky foliage that turns bright yellow gold. The Siberian Iris, in particular, is pretty year 'round. The blooms have always been my favorites, and the plant is a graceful display all year through, so the golden tints in fall are just one more reason to choose it .

Strawberry plants turn a mottled red and, as Gertrude Jekyll remarked, they have a lovely scent as the season turns. Roses can have bright foliage, but their main fall beauty is their rose hips. Some types will give sporadic bloom through fall, but it is the bush hung with beads of orange and subtle rosey hues that are outstanding. Many of the species types are beautiful, and rosa glauca, even when having early lost its leaves is filled with hips. These, and the crabapple fruits give a warm glow in the garden.

Those may have a warm glow, but some shrubs have fiery berries: the pyracantha. My pyracantha is beautiful this year, filled with bright orange berries. Some years these blacken, but this year is exceptional. That means that I can expect bird visitors right in front of my window all winter.

I am greatly entertained by birds! Would that all pleasures were so simple and easily attained.

Many of my shrubs turn dusky colors, which weave together with the brighter points of color. I prefer it that way. I don't have any of the euonymous (Burning Bush) yet, simply because I can't figure out how to work it in . It's bright scarlet is beautiful, but dominant. Wherever that bush is placed it will command the eye's attention. But every fall I want some!

I've always been happy with the cotoneaster horizontalis. I think mine is 'Coral Beauty', and it is mature now with mounding form about five feet high. The coral red berries cover the plant and the semi-evergreen leaves complement them for the entire fall season,

There are a few flowers that keep blooming long into the season. Everyone knows about chrysanthemums, but in my garden the calendulas hold the stage with their bright orange and golden yellow daisy flowers. One of these years I will infuse the garden with new hybrids, but right now, it is the reseeding of the originals years ago that bloom throughout my growing seasons here.

My asters were very poor this year. They browned up very early, but most years they are ostentatiously leaning over everything with the purple and pink blooms of the offspring survivors. I once had named varieties of Alma Potschke, Harrington's Pink, etc. Now it is whoever seeds and is left to grow. These are all Aster novae-angliae. I used to have shorter types... but in parts of the garden that were reworked.

That is the trouble with my gardening, I have never been able to give it first priority. But I always worked it in somehow, diminished stands of plants notwithstanding.

Again this year, the frosts caught up with me. I lost the heliotropes. Oh well, onward...next year, God Willing.
by Ilona Erwin

A gardener, blogger, writer, who has been blogging here since 2004, and writing for my website, Ilona's Garden since 1998.

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