Autumn Delights

Autumn Delights

Getting someone to visit a garden in summer is a snap: we all know gardens are striking in the summer months, with flowers galore. But what about fall? Garden visitors diminish with falling temperatures, as if they’re convinced the show is over as of Labour Day. But it isn’t. There’s still plenty to see in Canada’s public gardens right up until snowfall and even beyond.

Of course, colourful fall foliage is one thing you can count on. Gardens have plenty of trees and shrubs that go through all the possible shades of red, yellow, orange, and purple. Some are so brightly coloured you almost need sunglasses! Perennials too can have spectacular fall colours. I mean, would anyone even grow the Arkansas Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii), named Perennial of the Year in 2011, if it weren’t for the masses of bright gold threadlike leaves that smother it each fall?

But brilliantly coloured leaves are only one element of the fall garden. Plants continue to bloom abundantly through the fall months. Whether the blooms come from tall shrubs like hydrangeas and seven-sons-flower or perennials like chrysanthemums, asters, and sedums or even ground-hugging bulbs like colchicums or autumn crocus, they’re just as lovely… and perhaps even more enjoyable than summer blooms because they’re not as well known as summer flowers. Many gardens even hold chrysanthemum festivals to celebrate this striking fall beauty.

But fall is also the season for decorative fruit. From crabapples to rose hips to the turquoise berries of porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), a surprising climber, there are plenty of brilliantly-coloured berries to discover… and they attract birds, squirrels, and other animals, so don’t be surprised if your trip to visit a garden turns out to be a trip to an open-air bird and small mammal sanctuary.

So this fall, come one, come all: Canada’s fantastic public gardens are open for business… and they’ve never looked better than they do right now!



Larry Hodgson

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