“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus
Fall is a season of immense natural beauty. Nature-lovers are rewarded with a vibrant spectrum of foliage so diverse, it is like the second coming of spring. With cooler temperatures and less bugs, we can truly enjoy our outdoor spaces as the days begin to shorten. Moreover, for us gardeners, we can take advantage of fall nursery sales and great working weather.
When it comes to our gardens, fall is the time for flowers to take a back seat while foliage enters centre-stage. Foliage plants come in many colours including red, purple, burgundy, blue, gold, orange, yellow and every shade of green imaginable. Adding a few fall stunners to your garden will provide a lovely background in summer that will grow into the main event each fall.
For sunny gardens, ornamental grasses feature swaths of colour as they bloom in fall. Plant them in masses of 3-12 plants for the best results. Shorter grasses for fall include blue fescue, little bluestem and side-oats grama. Karl Foerster feather reed grass and Japanese silver grass are excellent medium-height fall grasses. Ravenna/ hardy pampas grass is the giant of the hardy ornamental grasses, growing up to 12 feet tall. Grasses are especially lovely when mixed with fall perennial flowers, such as autumn joy sedum, rudbekkia and Russian sage.
For part-shade landscapes, there are a number of no-fuss-no-muss shrubs with vibrant fall colour to choose from. Broadleaf deciduous shrubs such as burning bush, smoke bush and oak-leaf hydrangea have showy fall foliage. Red osier and yellow twig dogwood feature brightly coloured stems. Coniferous evergreen shrubs make excellent garden companions for more showy plants.
No fall landscape is complete without a tree or two. And there are so many excellent options to choose from. When it comes to trees, there is no need to scour the nurseries for fancy varieties. Our good old Canadian trees can’t be beat when it comes to fall colour. Serviceberry, sumac, and birch and are great choices for small trees. Red maple, sugar maple and red oak are larger options. Tamarack (also known as larch) is another interesting choice, as it is a conifer that turns yellow and fall and loses its needles. These trees are all part of the Acadian forest ecosystem, so they are well adapted to Nova Scotia’s climate and have great habitat value. Fall also features delicious hardy tree fruits such as apple and pear, which grow well in our climate, and yield a delicious bounty.
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