Parrotia persica is a smaller tree that has tiny red flowers in February but earns its stripes mostly in fall with truly vibrant scarlet-orange leaves. (Photo Van Den Berk UK Limited - www.vdberk.co.uk)

Parrotia persica is a smaller tree that has tiny red flowers in February but earns its stripes mostly in fall with truly vibrant scarlet-orange leaves. (Photo Van Den Berk UK Limited - www.vdberk.co.uk)

GARDENING: Add ornamentals for fall folliage colour

At this time of year, vibrant plants can lift your spirits

At this time of year, vibrant fall colour just lifts your spirits, and you don’t need big tall shade trees to enjoy it. Today, with so many dramatic fall foliage plants available, you’ll have no difficulty finding room for some, even in a smaller space garden.

I can’t make up my mind if I like a Sourwood Tree (Oxydendrum arboreum) better in August or in October. In August, its cascades of white flowers are a nice treat.Then in late summer its foliage starts turning red and the colour lasts well until late October. It’s a superstar in the garden.

A little known and seldom planted tree is ‘Parrotia persica,’ a smaller tree that always looks unique. It has tiny red flowers in February but earns its stripes mostly in fall with truly vibrant scarlet-orange leaves. It also has smooth grey bark that flakes off to leave white patches, making it a nice winter specimen too.

Nearly everyone plants a purple smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria) in their garden. Few people, however, plant its gold leafed cousin and that’s a shame because golden smoke trees are beautiful throughout three of the four seasons. They are particularly beautiful in autumn with their vibrant reds and oranges.

Another great plant that is neglected too often is the Enkianthus campanulatus. A mid-sized shrub with Pieris japonica-like red flowers in spring, it lights up the garden at this time of year with its florescent red foliage. This Japanese native fits in well among rhododendrons, azaleas and heathers.

Speaking of red foliage, the burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is the most well-known and the reddest of all reds in the fall – and truly is a head turner. It’s a great fall plant, with corky winged stems, that continues to look terrific in winter too. A compact variety is now available.

It’s a must-have.

Another little-known garden jewel is Fothergilla gardenii. This slow grower (up to three feet) has beautiful, fragrant bottle brush-like flowers in April and May, and then in October it throws a colour party of vibrant yellows and oranges.

It’s a standout.

One unique plant that turns colour now and keeps its leaves all year round is the lovely nandina, also known as heavenly bamboo – but don’t panic, it’s a false bamboo, not even related to bamboos, and has no spreading roots. Not really a grass, although all year it shimmers like one, it is a plant no sunny or shady garden should be without, and it now comes in a wide selection of compact varieties.

It works especially well near an entryway. All the varieties are unique in their own way, but my favourites are the very compact varieties like ‘Gulf Stream.’ It turns beautiful red shades in winter and keeps that colour until spring.

The many deciduous varieties of viburnums create a fabulous riot of colour, often with berries as well. Even Chinese witch hazel, with its fragrant yellow winter flowers, is a little bit of a show-off in fall.

If you already have some of these plants in your garden, congratulations. If not, I guarantee the addition of these plants to your fall garden will not only create a new exciting season for you, but they will also be something beautiful to anticipate and enjoy each autumn. Now is a great time to get them started.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ottawa serial killer Camille Joseph Cleroux died of natural causes at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution on Sunday.
Serial killer housed at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution dies of natural causes

Camille Joseph Cleroux announced dead on Sunday, known as notorious Ottawa serial killer

A child joins the Uke ‘n Play kickoff event at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Events return, in virtual form, at Fraser Valley Regional Library

People can take part in ukulele jam, bullet journaling, reading groups and more

This urn was found Jan. 4 at a Yale Road bus stop and has now been returned to its owner. (RCMP photo)
RCMP find custodian of urn that was left at Chilliwack bus stop

Police say the urn contained the remains of a family’s cat

Garry Blanchard of Hope won $77,000 correctly guessing the outcomes of all 13 games of NFL week 17. (Photo/BCLC)
Hope resident rakes in $77,000 in NFL Week 17 bet

Garry Blanchard won the record-breaking prize correctly guessing every outcome that week

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Chilliwack ER doc runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 walk past a window display at a store in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, December 13, 2020. The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Greater Vancouver business organization says members face uncertain outlook in 2021

Many Greater Vancouver businesses are barely treading water as they enter 2021

A handgun seized by Surrey RCMP. (Photo: Police handout)
Crime Stoppers received 500+ tips about Metro Vancouver guns, gang activity in 2020: report

Metro Vancouver organization ‘urging local residents to keep providing anonymous tips’

Most Read