Campbell River, British Columbia 
 Gardening in Campbell River

Garden Thoughts for September

The Other Fall Colours

It's hard to think of fall without conjuring up images of sugar maples decked out in fire engine reds and pumpkin oranges. Perhaps it part of our cultural heritage as Canadians. Of course, on this coast, the best our native maples can manage is a crispy yellow-brown, but we make up for it by planting exotics like Japanese Maple and Katsura to give us the fiery colours we crave.

This makes for brilliant fall streetscapes, but for those who like to set themselves apart from the crowd, consider the other colours of fall. There is a whole palette of fall bloomers in the blue-purple-pink range. Michaelmas daisies, for example, are commonly found in a pleasant lilac, but are also available in pink and white. Chrysanthemums are also available in soft pinks and whites, if you can manage to look past the more eye-catching shades on display.

Certainly, you can add any of these pastel colours to your fall mix. The purple Michaelmas Daisy looks wonderful next to a Deciduous Azalea in full flame. But for a knockout combination, think about leaving out the fiery shades almost completely. This works best up against an evergreen backdrop - choose a spot backed by cedars, fir, ceonothus, rhododendrons, and that sort of thing. I prefer the dark green shades of Yew and ceonothus, but "evergreys" like blue spruce work well too.

Some plants to consider for your pastel fall garden (in addition to the Daisies and Chrysanthemums already mentioned) include: Japanese Anemone, Lambs Ears,
Lavendula stoechas, Salvia, Globe Thistle, Hebe, Hydrangea, the pale pink hardy Fuchsia, hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma), and Blue Spirea (Caryopteris) if you can get it to survive. Knockout Dahlias are available in nearly every shade of pink, purple and white. In addition to shrubs and perennials, there are many annuals that will happily bloom until cold nights
take them out. Among the pansies, violets, sweetpeas, lobelia, alyssum, and nigella you'll find plenty of plants that enjoy fall weather and will harmonize with your chosen scheme.

To tie your pastel scheme into the outside world of red tones, include a little Vera Jameson, a sedum with dark greyish-burgundy leaves. Another great bridger is Plumbago, for the flowers are true blue, while the apple-green leaves can turn a brilliant fall red in sunny, dry conditions. It's taken me a long time to warm up to this tiny shrub, but I'm finding it more and more useful.

I hope this inspires you to try a little patch of non-traditional colour in your fall garden this year. Even a few of the above suggestions grouped together will add a touch of unusual beauty that will draw your eye again and again, and give a soothing contrast to the inferno of colour raging in the rest of the garden.


Karen Barber is an architectural and landscape designer in Campbell River.

Her company is Madrona Design, which sponsors this Gardening in Campbell River webpage.

 Check out her site as she has added a discussion page to her website.
Like a BB where people can post questions etc. get there by clicking on the button below...

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