Autumn Brilliance Part Two – Plants for Spectacular Fall Color…
Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Issai’ (Purple Beautyberry)
Could a gardener be diagnosed with OCD if she compulsively checks her ornamental shrubs for changing berry color? Can a collector’s passion for a particularly beautiful cultivar cross the line, where she becomes a stalker of plants? Sometimes I fear I’ve gone too far; slipped off the raft; teetered past the point-of-no-return. But I think you are with me, aren’t you? We can’t help ourselves. The itch simply must be scratched.
I am obsessed with Callicarpa dichotoma, (Purple Beautyberry). Truly, I am. And who wouldn’t be? Her fantastical berries are pure, poetic inspiration; begging to be written into myths and fairy tales. Just look at all that temptingly plump fruit, beckoning the unsuspecting in a glorious shade of shimmering purple. Why I can hear the old witch now… “Come sample the sweet violet berries my pretty.” Â *POOF* Â Deep sleep for decades. The gullible heroine slowly becomes enmeshed by lacy vines, lost in a trance, awaiting her handsome prince.
For years I have coveted the bright purple fruit of our native American Beautyberry, (Callicarpa americana), but this autumnal prize is hardy only to zone 6.Â In my desperation, I have killed several plants while attempting to over-winter them here at Ferncliff. Undaunted, I also tried my luck growing Japanese Beautyberry, (Callicarpa japonica), with similar, necrotic results. But last year, just south of here, I was visiting a nursery display-garden when I spotted something that stopped me dead in my tracks. Yellowing leaves, cobalt violet fruits – my heart raced as I rounded the corner and pushed past the browning hydrangea – could it be… ?
Indeed, it was the elusive Callicarpa. Only thisÂ time, the shrub I encountered was a hardier member of the family, Purple Beautyberry, (Callicarpa dichotoma). Graceful, arching, elegant in habit, the leaves of the Purple Beautyberry were just turning gold when I met her, highlighting the candy-like quality of her glossy, purple clusters of fruit. There are two excellent C. dichotoma cultivars, ‘Issai’ and ‘Early Amethyst’, both reliably hardy to zone 5. I have been warned to expect a bit of die-back; to be pruned in spring when I fertilize to encourage new growth. I snatched the last ‘Issai’ from my wholesaler’s lot, and placed it carefully in the garden, protected from wind by the American cranberrybush Viburnum, and alongside the blazing fall foliage of fragrant Abelia, (Abelia mosanensis). The color combination is delighting me this October. Will she survive the brutal winter? Only time will tell if Purple Beautyberry is a permanent addition to my garden. But for now, the fantasy is all mine.
So today I will leave you with images of some other bewitching favorites here in my autumn garden. I will elaborate on some of these woody plants over the coming weeks, as I continue to share my favorite design recipes for fall color …
Acer griseum Â (Paper bark maple)
The Hay-scented fern, (Dennstaedtia puctilobula), after hard frost
Buddleia davidii, (Orange-Eye Butterfly bush), blooms past the first frost
Abelia mosanensis, (Fragrant abelia), autumn color
Cotinus coggygria, (Smokebush), with a rosy leaf-glow
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ (Peegee Hydrangea)
Hydrangea paniculata, ‘Limelight’, turns mauve-purple in cool weather
Hydrangea quercifolia, (Oakleaf hydrangea), foliage variation
Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea), drying flowers
Oxydendrum arboreum, (Sourwood tree), a coveted autumn red hue
Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Seiryu’, (Blue Green Dragon), begins to color
Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’, all ablaze in backlit orange and scarlet
Vibrant Stewartia pseudocamellia with gilded Rodgersia aesculifolia
Stewartia pseudocamellia, (Japanese stewartia)
Article and Photographs copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardener’s EdenÂ
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4 Replies to “Autumn Brilliance Part Two – Plants for Spectacular Fall Color…”
I just wanted to tell you that this a beautiful website. Thank you for posting all of these wonderful photographs and information. I always enjoy reading your descriptions.
@ Krystal – thank you for making the time to comment and for your kind words. Your feedback is a great inspiration to me.
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