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The Weather Network
Nov. 30, 2021 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
Growing Together: Autumn garden stars bring colour to your yard
Beauty berry. (Supplied)

Joanne Young
Special to The Lake Report

Truth be told, going into September, most of us are kind of over our gardens for the year.

The annuals are looking tired, the perennials are starting to go dormant, the flowering shrubs have finished blooming and our trees are looking stressed from a very hot summer.

Besides a bit of fall colour, we really don’t take full advantage of the season. Fall can be a wonderful season in your garden. It is also an opportunity for you to be providing some needed food for insects, birds and all of the other little critters before the long winter ahead.

There are different ways that you can make your fall garden a wonderland of excitement.

The first way is by introducing some late flowering plants into your garden. There are some shrubs and perennials that do bloom in September and even into October that can provide you with some colour.

One that has just begun to flower in my garden this past week is Bluebeard (aka Blue Mist or Caryopteris). This three-foot shrub has clusters of small bluish/purple flowers.

There are several varieties of Bluebeard available, but my favourite one is called "Sunshine Blue" Bluebeard. This cultivar sports showy, lemon-yellow leaves all summer, which contrasts with the bluish/purple flowers in the fall making it a showstopper.

The honey bees and bumblebees love visiting this shrub when it is in bloom and it provides them with a source of food just before winter.

Another larger growing, native shrub that blooms in the fall is the Common Witchhazel (Hammelis virginiana). It has unique, spidery yellow flowers starting in late September and continuing into November.

Seven Sons tree (Heptacodium) is another large growing shrub that has clusters of white flowers in September, followed by a show of rosy pink calyces, providing interest right through October.

Some perennials that will provide flowers in the fall are: Stonecrop (Sedum), Windflowers (Anemone), Monkshood (Aconitum), Toadlily (Tricyrtis) and Turtlehead (Chelone). Also, we are all familiar with the large pots of hardy mums that are available to purchase at this time of year. Placing a few pots of mums in strategic spots where you want to catch people’s attention, such as a front porch or sitting area, will add a pop of colour that you might be needing.

A second way of adding interest to your fall garden is by planting some shrubs with colourful berries. Most of the shrubs that have berries that ripen in the fall will usually hang on to their berries into early winter or whenever the birds find them.

So, not only are you enjoying their flowers in the spring or early summer, but you have a second season of interest when the berries ripen – and the birds will love you for it.

If you are creating a new garden or just filling on an empty spot, you may want to consider planting some of the following shrubs: Beautyberry (Callicarpa), Firethorn (Pyracantha), evergreen Holly (Ilex x meserveae), deciduous Holly (Winterberry, Ilex verticillata), Chokeberry (Aronia) and Highbush Cranberry Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum). Please note that with the hollies you need both a male and female plant.

A final way to make your fall garden a vibrant space is by having plants that have beautiful fall leaf colours. There are too many to even attempt to list all of them, but I will mention a few that stand out in my mind.

If you are looking at adding a larger growing shade tree on your property, consider planting native trees. I find that most of them have beautiful fall colour; for example: red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red oak (Quercus rubra), pin oak (Quercus palustrus), black gum (Nyssa) and tulip tree (Liriodendron).

There are also many shrubs that will provide you excellent fall colour. You can never go wrong with any Japanese maple as far as fall colour is concerned. They can vary from bright golden yellow to crimson red in colour. Other shrubs to consider are: Burning Bush (Euonymus), Chokeberry (Aronia), Viburnums, Fothergilla, Little Henry Sweetspire, Tiger Eye Sumac and Pagoda Dogwood.

So if your garden is lacking that fall excitement, it is a great time to visit an area garden centre and see what gems you can add to your garden.

Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at