Our front yard make-over: Fall Wrap-Up

A combination of luck and planning produced a pleasing fall display in 2012

A dry shade garden can be a happy place in a rainy year, especially when the soil has been fed properly. This spring, it enjoyed a healthy top-up of duck compost, as well as all the shredded leaves it could eat, the fall before. But after all that shovelling, the gardener ran out of oomph later in summer. Six bags of half-price black cedar mulch are still stacked in my back yard – slowly composting for 2013.

The pinkish tree is a dogwood, Cornus kousa ‘Summer Fun’. It’s a better choice for leaves than for flowers; the few that bloom have the same variegation as the leaves, so are virtually invisible. Still, this small tree is said to max out at about 12 feet (4 m) high, which is why I’m hoping it won’t outgrow its welcome.

The white hosta beside it is H. ‘Pineapple Upside-down Cake’. As you can see in this picture, the leaves emerge more chartreuse-green. I’ve seen this described as a vigorous hosta, but that’s what I need under Norway maples. I picked it up last spring for $5 at a garden club sale, and it sat in its pot for most of the summer while I dithered about where to put it. Happily, I chose this spot.

To its left is Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ modestly doing the sleep-creep-leap thing. The added rations of food and drink definitely agreed with it. At the centre of the picture is H. ‘Annabelle’, recovering reasonably well from being transplanted last fall. However, due to the root disturbance, it was the first in the garden to droop on hot, hot days, so I had to pay attention and play nurse with water as required.

The two red trees are, at left, a serviceberry (Amelanchier) that Sarah gave me, so long ago that I don’t know the species or cultivar and, at right, a ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum). Later in the season – this shot was from mid-October – ‘Bloodgood’ really lives up to its name, turning a vibrant, stained-glass red and hanging tenaciously onto its leaves. The last few are falling now.

I’d like to claim that I planned the two overlapping triangles that give a dynamic to the placement of the red and the white plants. That was sheer dumb luck. Or good instincts. Sure, instincts. I’ll take it!


  1. Your front yard garden is adorable. There is so much color in the fall. What's the creamy, pinkish shrub in the lower right corner? I feel like I need to have one of them in my garden.

    1. Thanks, MBT. That's Cornus kousa 'Summer Fun' — the variegated leaves develop a nice reddish edge in the fall. Of course, the more sun they get, the redder they turn. My garden is pretty shady, so the leaves have that overall pinkish effect.

  2. Very fine effort and one can see the potential. Summer Fun could be the star of the show someday. Pineapple got my attention the last few years. Here's wishing you luck it will fulfill its potential.

  3. All looks lovely, Helen. We have similar taste in plants perhaps because of similar conditions. I do so love your dear white hosta 'Pineapple Upside-down Cake', a must on my spring list of goodies! Happy Holidays 🙂

  4. Lovely front yard. Love all the foliage variations. That cornus kousa is one I will have to look for….love the pinkish variegated foliage. I really want to find a good spot for an Amelanchier…what a great native tree.

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