Garden Photo of the Day

Autumn Colors in North Georgia

Leaves and blooms wrapping up the season

Today we’re visiting with Bonnie Plikaytis, who is sharing the beauties of her garden at the end of the season.

Here are a few photos of some of the autumn colors and blooms in our Big Canoe, Georgia, garden. Our garden relies heavily on shapes, textures, and hues of green throughout the year to provide interest, with only accents of color. During fall, the color of the leaves of the Japanese maples and of a few flowering plants is the main attraction. The autumn sun intensifies the stunning colors.

Inaba-shidare japanese mapleThis Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Inaba-shidare’, Zones 5–9) is a graceful cascading form tree with fine-cut leaves. During summer, the leaves are purple-red before turning a brilliant crimson in the fall. The color of the leaves is evidence of the truth of a saying by French philosopher Albert Camus: “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

Rain liliesRain lilies (Zephranthes candida, Zones 7–10) start blooming in August and continue through the end of October. The graceful white flowers often appear after a rain and are always a delightful surprise. The grasslike bright green foliage is evergreen in our Zone 7 climate. An additional characteristic of this plant is that the deer in our woodland community do not browse it, so the foliage provides year-round interest.

fernleaf full moon mapleWe have quite a few different varieties of Japanese maples in our garden, and one of the earliest to develop fall color is the fernleaf full moon maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’, Zones 5–7). The leaf is large, multidivided, and deeply cut, which produces a fernlike appearance—hence the common name. The show-stopping fall color is like a kaleidoscope going from shades of orange to scarlet and sometimes hues of purple.

Fragrant oliveFragrant olive (Osmanthus fragrans aurantiacus, Zones 7–10) is a useful as well as beautiful evergreen plant. The plant blooms in late September, and as the species name implies, the dainty tangerine-colored flowers have a sweet fragrance. The leathery leaves of this shrub maintain a deep green color throughout the year, making it useful as a screening plant. Thankfully, the deer do not seem to like it.

Coral bark mapleCoral bark maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’, Zones 5–8) not only develops striking golden yellow leaf color in the fall, but it also provides winter interest with 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 have fared well in our garden in deep shade with even moisture. Deer fern provides year-round interest with its leathery evergreen fronds. As with many evergreen ferns, the deer do not find it palatable.

Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii, Zones 5-8) is known as well for its foliage as for the small blue clusters of flowers that appear in spring. The feathery green summer foliage, which turns to a stunning gold color in fall, is what attracted me to this sun-loving native perennial. Another important attribute is that the deer have never bothered it.

Osakazuki Japanese mapleJapanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’, Zones 5–9) is best known for its intense crimson fall color. During most of its growing season the leaves have a rich green color. The leaves even hold their color for several days after they have fallen from the tree, looking like crimson confetti.

Leopard plantsLeopard plants (Farfugium japonicum giganteum, Zones 7–10) require full shade and are evergreen in mild winters. It seems odd that this tropical-looking plant with leathery kidney-shaped leaves has yellow daisy-shaped flowers on tall stalks in November! The bright yellow flowers are a much-needed delight when few other plants are blooming. The foliage is evergreen to about 20°F and brings a variety of shapes and textures to the garden. The bench was a gift from a dear gardening friend who is a remarkable artist in all his endeavors. He designed and created the bench from a red oak tree 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 form due to its leaves overlapping each other like shingles on a roof. It is a dense compact tree that typically remains less than 5 feet tall. In fall the leaves can range from yellow to deep red.

Shishigashira Japanese mapleTheShishigashira’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’, Zones 5–8) is sometimes called lion’s head maple. Its leaves are distinctive in that they are crinkled and curled. They are arranged tightly on the stubby compact twigs, giving the tree a shrubby character. The unusual look of the tree can be accentuated by pruning. Some folks do not even recognize this tree as a Japanese maple due to its unique appearance. Its fall color can range from orange to red to golden yellow, but it is always dazzling!


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View Comments


  1. Maggieat11 12/21/2020

    Love your Japanese Maples. So gorgeous. The rain lilies are a delight! Thank you for sharing!

  2. PattyLouise 12/21/2020

    Beautiful fall colors! Now I must get some rain lilies! You have created a lovely paradise! And WOW that bench is quite a work of art!

  3. nwphillygardener 12/21/2020

    This was such a fun post to see not only the maple collection but the different under plantings. With Acer 'Osakazuki' were those strappy leaves Iris tectorum? I was intrigued at the way the custom bench supports was intended to mimic the Farfugium's glossy leaves.

    1. user-7583935 12/21/2020

      You have a good eye! Yes the Irises under the Osakazuki maple are Iris tectorum.

      1. nwphillygardener 12/22/2020

        I know that these japanese maples have networks of surface roots that don't like to be disturbed aggressively. So it's a great thing to establish good companion shade loving plants under them when we first plant the maples.

  4. PG20 12/21/2020

    Just lovely.

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 12/21/2020

    I have that fragrant olive as well. Nothing like the scent. Just love all your JM's. I have 2 unnamed ones that for the first time this year had spectacular fall color. And that bench is just out of this world.

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 12/21/2020

    BTW, Bonnie has another submission here.

    1. User avater
      simplesue 12/21/2020

      Oh I remember that garden and LOVED those "stumpeies" Thanks for helping us make the connection for the big picture of the garden!

  7. User avater
    simplesue 12/21/2020

    I learned from you- the name of a Japanese Maple I was curious about, and enjoyed your garden post- really woodsy yet elegant, just love that kind of garden... That bench is worthy of being indoors- wow that dude is really talented.
    Again, I love your garden style, so natural and not over done.

    1. user-7583935 12/21/2020

      My husband shares your opinion of the bench. He keeps saying it is a shame we don’t bring it in the house.

  8. Musette1 12/21/2020

    your garden is elegant. that bench is stunning! thank you so much for sharing.

  9. btucker9675 12/21/2020

    Your Japanese maples are just stunning and that bench is a true work of art! I'm going to get a fragrant olive now - beautiful.

  10. alicefleurkens 12/21/2020

    You have a lovely combination of evergreen and fall colours. I love the fragrant olive and rain Lily. Wonderful and talented friend you have to give you that beautiful bench. Alice

  11. Cenepk10 12/21/2020

    Beautiful!!! I have rain lilies and a spotted leopard plant and I’m 82 miles to the SE of you. Look pretty up there in Big Canoe !!!

  12. cheryl_c 12/21/2020

    Beautiful combinations - I especially love how you underplanted your amsonia with those gorgeous ferns. Your other pictures just gave me zone envy.

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