Autumn Colors in North Georgia

Today we’re visiting with Bonnie Plikaytis, who is sharing the beauties of her garden at the end of the season.

Here are a few photos of some of the autumn colors and blooms in our Big Canoe, Georgia, garden. Our garden relies heavily on shapes, textures, and hues of green throughout the year to provide interest, with only accents of color. During fall, the color of the leaves of the Japanese maples and of a few flowering plants is the main attraction. The autumn sun intensifies the stunning colors.

Inaba-shidare japanese mapleThis Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Inaba-shidare’, Zones 5–9) is a graceful cascading form tree with fine-cut leaves. During summer, the leaves are purple-red before turning a brilliant crimson in the fall. The color of the leaves is evidence of the truth of a saying by French philosopher Albert Camus: “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

Rain liliesRain lilies (Zephranthes candida, Zones 7–10) start blooming in August and continue through the end of October. The graceful white flowers often appear after a rain and are always a delightful surprise. The grasslike bright green foliage is evergreen in our Zone 7 climate. An additional characteristic of this plant is that the deer in our woodland community do not browse it, so the foliage provides year-round interest.

fernleaf full moon mapleWe have quite a few different varieties of Japanese maples in our garden, and one of the earliest to develop fall color is the fernleaf full moon maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’, Zones 5–7). The leaf is large, multidivided, and deeply cut, which produces a fernlike appearance—hence the common name. The show-stopping fall color is like a kaleidoscope going from shades of orange to scarlet and sometimes hues of purple.

Fragrant oliveFragrant olive (Osmanthus fragrans aurantiacus, Zones 7–10) is a useful as well as beautiful evergreen plant. The plant blooms in late September, and as the species name implies, the dainty tangerine-colored flowers have a sweet fragrance. The leathery leaves of this shrub maintain a deep green color throughout the year, making it useful as a screening plant. Thankfully, the deer do not seem to like it.

Coral bark mapleCoral bark maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’, Zones 5–8) not only develops striking golden yellow leaf color in the fall, but it also provides winter interest with brilliant coral bark. At the base of the tree are deer ferns (Blechnum spicant, Zones 5–8), which are native to the Pacific Northwest. These ferns have fared well in our garden in deep shade with even moisture. Deer fern provides year-round interest with its leathery evergreen fronds. As with many evergreen ferns, the deer do not find it palatable.

Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii, Zones 5-8) is known as well for its foliage as for the small blue clusters of flowers that appear in spring. The feathery green summer foliage, which turns to a stunning gold color in fall, is what attracted me to this sun-loving native perennial. Another important attribute is that the deer have never bothered it.

Osakazuki Japanese mapleJapanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’, Zones 5–9) is best known for its intense crimson fall color. During most of its growing season the leaves have a rich green color. The leaves even hold their color for several days after they have fallen from the tree, looking like crimson confetti.

Leopard plantsLeopard plants (Farfugium japonicum giganteum, Zones 7–10) require full shade and are evergreen in mild winters. It seems odd that this tropical-looking plant with leathery kidney-shaped leaves has yellow daisy-shaped flowers on tall stalks in November! The bright yellow flowers are a much-needed delight when few other plants are blooming. The foliage is evergreen to about 20°F and brings a variety of shapes and textures to the garden. The bench was a gift from a dear gardening friend who is a remarkable artist in all his endeavors. He designed and created the bench from a red oak tree that had fallen in his garden.

Mikawa Yatsubusa Japanese mapleJapanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’, Zones 6–9) is a very slow-growing dwarf tree. It has a unique form due to its leaves overlapping each other like shingles on a roof. It is a dense compact tree that typically remains less than 5 feet tall. In fall the leaves can range from yellow to deep red.

Shishigashira Japanese mapleTheShishigashira’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’, Zones 5–8) is sometimes called lion’s head maple. Its leaves are distinctive in that they are crinkled and curled. They are arranged tightly on the stubby compact twigs, giving the tree a shrubby character. The unusual look of the tree can be accentuated by pruning. Some folks do not even recognize this tree as a Japanese maple due to its unique appearance. Its fall color can range from orange to red to golden yellow, but it is always dazzling!


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