Autumn Color 2021

I can't help it. This is my annual tribute to autumn colors. Can one tire of such seemingly mundane occurrences? Not this gardener. The mix of evergreens juxtaposed with surprise leaf color sets my heart racing; plus, October is especially aflame this year. I blame Heat Dome from June, causing all kinds of stress to the garden. Perhaps this is the silver lining. Perhaps I am a bit delusional and the autumn show is no different than in past years. No matter. There's a lot to enjoy, and luckily I wandered the garden on a dry afternoon before the rains and super-high winds arrived. 

Acer circinatum, our native vine maple in the background, has the best coloration that I have ever seen. Add to that the fading blossoms of a hydrangea and some sparkle from Miscanthus sinensis 'Cabaret' and it seems rather colorful to my eye.

Another native, Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida, also has intense color. This is one of the most underused deciduous shrubs, in my opinion.

Another miscanthus, this one M. 'Malepartus' not only stays upright (I'm looking at you, panicum!), but is delightful when it changes shades to rich oranges and greens.

Broader view of the garden around the fire pit

Viburnum trilobum, our native viburnum or American cranberry bush.

Veronicastrum virginicum 'Abum' turning a rather lovely yellow.

Early stages of a rather small but mighty Stewartia pseudocamellia that has since turned brilliant red.

A treat every autumn, Berberis jamesiana. It gets better every year.

Subtle but pretty color of Vitex rotundifolia.

Looking up the driveway to a colorful woodland area on the left.

Miscanthus 'Malepartus' is gorgeous this time of the year especially.

I have two callicarpas, this is 'Profusion' and quite small still. But its berries are a burst of color, I look forward to watching this grow large enough for me to cut branches for bouquets.

Outside our front door a little color on the edge of the berm garden. Salvia 'Phyllis Fancy' on the left adds a punch of purple this time of the year.

Cotinus 'Pink Champagne' from Xera Plants has remained fairly petite at only about 6' tall.

A wider shot of the edge of the meadow area and gravel gardens with a pair of Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' and Amsonia hubrichtii in the foreground. The golden grasses are Anemanthele lessoniana.

Cornus sericea 'Hedgerows Gold', a lovely selection of our native redtwig dogwood that has variegation and turns amazing colors this time of the year.

Sedum 'Matrona' paired with Arctostaphylos 'John Dourley' as a color echo from its stems and leaf margins.

Unknown grape on our southern fence paired with Helianthus angustifolius.

There are a few Fothergilla in the garden and they get much better as they age. This is F. 'Blue Shadow'.

Sedum sieboldii/Hylotelephium siebolidii or October daphne. This adds a nice bit of color blooming quite late for a sedum.

Layers of color.

It's also mushroom season. 

Our native vine maple, Acer circinatum has never had better color.

Chrysanthemum 'Hillside Sheffield Pink' is so cheerful, I wouldn't do without it.

Euphorbia rigida in the background beginning to take on purple reddish tones behind an Agave bracteosa.

More evergreen foliage paired with autumn color.

Parrotia persica, only a few years old, seems to morph its autumn colors from year to year.

Cornus 'Midwinter Fire' is a yellow splash among evergreen shrubs. Soon its vibrant stems will be a bright spot in this part of the garden.

Flowers also add color right now and hardy fuchsias are really going strong. This is Fuchisa 'Golden Gate'.

Unknown purple aster paired with yellows of Miscanthus 'Little Zebra'.

Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' once more.

Our native snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus.

Even the spiraeas are in on the autumn color act.

The berm garden with a bit of color in the center in the form of flowers and Itea 'Henry's Garnet' foliage in rich red. In the far left background redbud and prunus foliage is turning warm colors.

Cistus 'Elma' backed by Miscanthus 'Malepartus'.

Hydrangea flowers although faded are a rich source of color.

Franklinia alatamaha, Franklin tree, or for us, it's our Lucy tree.

One final image of those Japanese maples paired with Arctostaphylos 'Sentinel'

Naturally, the color is even more intense as I write this, these photos were taken last week. We have also had crazy winds so much of the older foliage is long gone, blown away. While some of it is short-lived it is all so wonderful to live among warm tones that on a sunny autumn day feels like you are living in a stained glass garden.

Thank you to everyone who has looked at/purchased a copy of the November issue of Better Homes and Gardens, the edition that features our garden, photos taken two years ago, but it looks much the same today. It was an interesting event and the folks who came over to camp out with us over two very rainy days were a lot of fun. I have posted the article, you can find it here.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always thank you SO much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you. Happy autumn gardening!


  1. I am in awe of your fall garden and taking notes on your miscanthus and acer selections among so many others. Congrats on the article getting published!

    1. You are too kind, Denise. Thank you so much for your well-wishes!

  2. Autumn deserves to be celebrated just as spring is, especially when a garden shows its colors as well as yours does, Tamara. I think I exclaimed about the rapid transformation of your 'Sango Kaku' in a prior post - well, mine has recently performed the same trick. We don't have all that much in terms of fall foliage color but I appreciate it whenever and wherever I see it.

    1. I agree, Kris - autumn does deserve to be celebrated!

      I'm thrilled you have autumn color with your 'Sango Kaku', it's such a spectacular show.

  3. Your chairs look so good too! So nice, Tamara!

  4. Wow, Berberis jamesiana berries!
    Stewartia seem to have something for every season! Great tree.

    1. Aren't those berries something? Gah! Love them.

      Stewartia is a favorite - I look forward to watching it mature over the years.


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