Autumn color – every year it’s different

by Yvonne on October 24, 2009 · 9 comments

in Eye candy, Fall

Sugar maple in nearby woods

Sugar maple in nearby woods

This year the fall color has been slow to come for us in southern Ontario. I understand that places further north, such as Algonquin Park, have seen spectacular shows of color. After our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 10-12), photograper Michael Reichman of the Luminous Landscape wrote:
“In the Muskoka/Algonquin region of southern Ontario, where I’ve spent the past week shooting and vacationing, we have had one of the most intense and colourful fall foliage displays in a generation. Reason enough for thanks if you’re a photographer.”

Here, we’ve had a strange sort of fall. Trees that usually give us a wonderful show, our ‘Autumn Purple’ ashes and red maples (Acer rubrum cultivars) have been more subdued in color. The same goes for sugar maples, although some individuals look amazing, such as the one in the picture above, which I photographed a couple of days ago in the woods at the tree farm behind us.

Fall perennial border: Liatris seedheads, Autumn Joy sedum and Crown of Rays Goldenrod

Fall perennial border: Liatris seedheads, Autumn Joy sedum and Crown of Rays Goldenrod

Other trees that normally wow us – Nyssa sylvatica, (black tupelo) and Katsura in particular – have already lost their leaves without giving us much color at all. Many of my ornamental grasses are simply turning dun-colored without the intemediate stage of showing more varied and interesting hues.

But there is some good color here now. Here’s how parts of the garden looked this week.

Our four-square garden with Molinia 'Skyracer' grass and Hydrangea 'Limelight' in the background

Our four-square garden with Molinia 'Skyracer' grass and Hydrangea 'Limelight' in the background

Shrub border left to right: Mariesii doublefile viburnum, Diablo ninebark, creeping cotoneaster in front, red barberry (which we grew from seed); trees in back are Serbian spruces

Shrub border left to right: Mariesii doublefile viburnum, Diablo ninebark, creeping cotoneaster in front, red barberry (which we grew from seed); trees in back are Serbian spruces

There are all kinds of reasons for this year’s more muted autumn color, and my guess is that our wet summer, followed by an abnormally cool October with early hard frosts are to blame. How has the autumn color been in your region this year – better or worse than last year?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet Davis October 24, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Spectacular! Your four-square garden is stunning in autumn. I love those golden ‘Skyracer’ fountains.

Reply

Yvonne Cunnington October 24, 2009 at 5:03 pm

They are cool, aren’t they? Unfortunately, come November, Skyracer just falls apart, unlike most of the other grasses we grow which stand up nicely all winter, so it’s one that we will cut down soon. Cutting it back is also a good idea because this grass has a tendency to self-seed.

Thanks for your comment. Cheers/Y

Reply

Graham Rice October 24, 2009 at 5:25 pm
Yvonne Cunnington October 24, 2009 at 5:42 pm

That’s amazing, Graham. I always wish that would happen here, just for the photo opportunity such an early snow would present. I trust your snow melted fast.

Thanks for visiting. Cheers/Y

Reply

Graham Rice October 24, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Yes, it was soon gone. Then it was up to 15C/60F and now it’s rained straight for 36 hours! All in a week.

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Salix October 26, 2009 at 9:44 am

Hi Yvonne, like in your area I think that the fall colours have been slow to emerge and the show is still not as spectacular as other years – more trees have already lost their leaves?
By now we do have, however, some very colourfull maples (incl. Japanese varieties), dogwoods, oaks, grasses among other still very green trees and shrubs -and then, some of my liatris are still blooming!

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Eve October 28, 2009 at 9:08 am

Oh Yvonne that Skyracer is magnificent! Well your gardens are just amazing as usual. I have a book that I’m studying intently…Fall Scaping by Nancy J. Ondra and Stephanie Cohen, is this in your library?
Since I wasn’t here last year I cannot tell you the difference this year but I am mostly yellow. I’ve decided that the Dogwood is one of my favorite trees. I can’t wait to see the blooms in the spring…I missed them this year. Keep me inspired Yvonne!!!

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rebecca sweet October 30, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Ohmygosh! I absolutely love your garden – and love the ‘skyracer’/hydrangea combo. You are so talented – not only with writing, but with design as well. Thanks for beautiful pictures!

Reply

Yvonne Cunnington October 31, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Thanks Rebecca, Eve and Lene. You’re all so sweet (not just Rebecca).

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