By Gary Jones
The color burgundy seems like it is everywhere when it comes to fall clothing this year. Similar to a trendy fashion design, plant lovers these days have been far ahead of fashion houses in incorporating this color trend.
For several years now, plant breeders have been showing off wine-colored plants that have gardeners drooling. But it is not necessarily the blossoms that are burgundy. In fact, more likely it is the foliage. Descriptions may range from burgundy and merlot to garnet and oxblood. The color is a deep red of varying shades. And no matter what you call it, this deep, saturated color is very much in keeping with the cooler seasons of fall and winter.
Consider the following rich merlot- and garnet-toned plants for your fall garden:
Coral bells now come in an amazing array of colors and most are the jewel tones of autumn. Heuchera Frost has silvery leaves with dark burgundy veins. Chocolate Ruffles have leaves that are rich chocolate on top and deep burgundy on the bottom. The extreme ruffling exposes both fall colors at once. On leaves with a rusty merlot, Cherry Cola forms small plants that are perfect for the front of beds and pots.
Naturally, Autumn Leaves are perfect for autumn. The beautifully rounded leaves are bold red in spring, taupe in summer and ruby red in the fall. Fire Alarm is another heuchera with four distinct seasons of color. This one happens to be bright red in spring, brown red in summer and then turns oxblood in the fall. Fire Chief is a glowing wine-red all year-long. Like rich red leather, Mahogany is a purple overlaid with a silver sheen, turning to garnet in the fall and winter seasons.
It is difficult to leave the excitement of coral bells without mentioning an amazing assortment of other fall colors—obsidian, copper, orange, cinnamon-peach, gold, silver with striking black veins, gold with red centers and red veining as well as dark purple. Clearly, coral bells are one of the season’s great plants.
It is possible to find varieties of this Chinese fringe-flower with purple, almost black, foliage as well as bronzy green. However, the ones in the burgundy-merlot range are Burgundy Blast, Ruby with its very dark burgundy leaves and Ever Red. All three of them form 6-foot shrubs, but can easily be kept smaller, if desired. These gallon-sized plants make great anchors for fall container gardens.
This is a favorite water-wise plant and the variety known as Crimson Butterflies has hot pink flowers that seem to float above beautiful wine-colored leaves.
African daisies have been used as common decorative freeway plants because they are tough and can withstand heat. The updated versions are exponentially improved in color and appearance. Look for Burgundy and Serenity Red, the new, mounding varieties. These will bloom throughout the fall season.
- Rex Begonia
Rex begonias used to be difficult to find. Due to the craze for unusual and colorful foliage plants, they are now commonly available during all but the coldest months. They thrive best when planted in containers. Although there are other colors in their leaves, Painter’s Palette and Ruby Slippers are predominately rich, saturated wine-red.
The Sorbet series of viola is certainly one of the very best cool-season flowers. Sorbets bloom non-stop from early fall until June. And the color range is truly amazing. For comparisons sake, think how tough it is to pick your favorite flavor at Menchie’s or Yogurtland. Try choosing from the 42 different types of Sorbet violas with names like Banana Cream and Coconut Swirl. If you are looking for burgundy, there is only one choice: the gorgeous Carmine Rose.
How have you incorporated burgundy into your fall garden? Share a photo or two of your best autumn display with us.
—Gary Jones is the Chief Horticulturist at Armstrong Garden Centers, which has locations on Friars Road and Morena Boulevard. Email your drought and gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.