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Autumn Colors in North Georgia


Today we visit Bonnie Plikaytis, who at the end of the season shares the beauties of her garden.

Here are a few photos of some of the fall colors and blooms in our back yard in Big Canoe, Georgia. All year round, our garden relies heavily on shapes, textures, and shades of green to spark interest, just with pops of color. In the fall, the main attraction is the color of the leaves of the Japanese maple trees and some flowering plants. The autumn sun intensifies the breathtaking colors.

This Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var. Dissectum ‘Inaba-shidare’, zones 5–9) is a graceful cascading shaped tree with finely cut leaves. The leaves are purple in summer before turning bright purple in autumn. The color of the leaves is proof of the truth of a saying by the French philosopher Albert Camus: “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

Rain liliesRain lilies (Zephranthes candida, zones 7-10) begin to bloom in August and continue through October. The graceful white flowers often appear after a rain and are always a delightful surprise. The grassy light green foliage is evergreen in our zone 7 climate. Another characteristic of this plant is that the deer in our forest community do not search it, so the foliage creates interest year round.

Fernblatt full moon mapleWe have several different varieties of Japanese maple trees in our garden, and one of the earliest fall colors is the fern leaf full moon maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’, Zones 5-7). The leaf is large, multi-layered, and deeply cut, resulting in a fern-like appearance – hence the common name. The stunning fall color is like a kaleidoscope that ranges from orange tones to scarlet to purple tones.

Fragrant oliveThe fragrant olive (Osmanthus fragrans aurantiacus, zones 7-10) is a useful and beautiful evergreen. The plant blooms in late September, and as the species name suggests, the delicate, tangerine-colored flowers have a sweet scent. The leathery leaves of this shrub retain a deep green color all year round, which makes it useful as a sieve plant. Fortunately, the deer don’t seem to like it.

Coral bark mapleCoral bark maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’, zones 5–8) not only develops a striking golden yellow leaf color in autumn, but also offers winter interest with its 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 did well in our garden in deep shade with even moisture. Deer fern with its leathery evergreen fronds creates interest all year round. As with many evergreen ferns, the deer do not find it tasty.

Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii, zones 5-8) is known for both its foliage and the small clusters of blue flowers that appear in spring. The spring-green summer foliage that turns a stunning golden color in the fall is what attracted me to this sun-loving native perennial. Another important feature is that the deer never bothered it.

Osakazuki Japanese mapleJapanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’, zones 5–9) is best known for its intense purple autumn color. For most of the growing season, the leaves are a rich green color. The leaves even retain their color for a few days after falling from the tree and look like purple confetti.

Leopard plantsLeopard plants (Farfugium japonicum giganteum, zones 7-10) require full shade and are evergreen in mild winters. It seems strange that this tropical-looking plant with leathery kidney-shaped leaves would have yellow daisy-shaped flowers on tall stems in November! The bright yellow flowers are a much needed delight when few other plants are in bloom. The foliage is evergreen to around 20 ° F and brings a variety of shapes and textures to the garden. The bench was a gift from a dear gardener who is a remarkable artist in all his endeavors. He designed and created the bench from a red oak 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 shape as its leaves overlap like shingles on a roof. It is a dense compact tree that usually stays less than 5 feet tall. In autumn, the leaves can range from yellow to deep red.

Japanese maple ShishigashiraThe Japanese maple ‘Shishigashira’ (Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’, Zones 5–8) is sometimes referred to as the lion’s head maple. The leaves are distinguished by the fact that they are wrinkled and curled. They are closely arranged on the stump, compact branches and give the tree a shrubby character. The unusual appearance of the tree can be emphasized by pruning. Some people don’t even recognize this tree as a Japanese maple because of its unique appearance. Its fall color can range from orange to red to golden yellow, but it’s always dazzling!

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