The Softer Side of Fall

IMG_7633Fall foliage isn’t always about those screaming red, orange and gold shades. There is a softer, quieter side to autumn and it is perfectly expressed in this soothing combination by artistic gardener Mary Palmer of Snohomish, WA.

Soft teal needles of a blue Chinese fir mingle with the dusky purple plumes of the Red Head fountain grass; a  subtle color combination that would look good all year yet has an ethereal quality when dripping with fall raindrops.

In the distance are two splashes of gold that pull out the lighter tones in the conifer. Autumn Moon maple is a standout in the garden for many months but this late season color seems like a final blast of watery sunshine.

Repeating the yellow is a simple perennial sunflower, Tuscan Sun. Well this may not be Tuscany but the pure color definitely adds a highlight to the group yet does not detract from the simplicity of the foliage combination. (And we’ll forgive it for being a flower……)

Plant details


Blue Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata ‘Glauca’)

Light; Sun – part shade

Mature size; To 50′ tall and 20′ wide

Water; Low (Drought tolerant when established)

Hardiness; USDA zones 6-9


 Red Head fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Red Head’)

Light; Full sun

Mature size; 3′ tall and 2′ wide

Water; low, drought tolerant

Hardiness; USDA zones 5-9

IMG_7648Autumn Moon Japanese maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’)

Light; Open shade or full sun

Mature size; 15′ tall x 18′ wide

Water; Regular water

Hardiness; USDA zones; 5-8

IMG_7643Tuscan sun sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Tuscan Sun’)

Light; Full sun

Mature size; 2 feet (a great compact variety)

Water; Average

Hardiness; USDA zones 3-9

What’s going on in your garden today?

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