The richest colour in dark-leaved shrubs is found in the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum). Such forms as atropurpureum aureum, decompositum, palmatifidum, roseo-marginatum dissectum, and septemlobum purpureum are highly ornamental. Groups of these fine coloured Maples, growing in large pots or tubs, are now a feature of many large horticultural shows, and the reader is there given an opportunity of noting many forms, varying in tint and division of the rich leaves.
There is a purple-leaved form of the Common Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), but it is not important for the shrubbery, although useful for cover. More valuable is the dark-leaved Nut, Corylus maxima atropurpurea. Purple-leaved forms of Euonymus europaeus and Osmanthus ilicifolius are also worth mentioning.
When planted sparingly, these dark-leaved subjects are very effective.
Stem-colour in deciduous shrubs would hardly suggest itself as a subject worthy of study by the garden-maker, nevertheless, it should not be ignored. So simple a plant as the Deutzia has a distinctly warm and lively effect with its bright, clean brown bark when the bushes are kept pruned, so that they are full of young wood in winter. When crowded with old wood they are not so cheerful.
The Dogwoods are particularly valuable for the kinds they furnish with coloured stems, notably alba and Baileyi, with red bark, and flaviramea, with yellow bark.
The Brooms have the interest of green stems, as well as brilliant flowers.
Fig. The brooms have the interest of green stems as well as of brilliant flowers. Cytisus Andreanus at Kew. Colour photo by R. A. Malby.
The intermingling of these subjects in shrubberies has the effect of maintaining brightness throughout the year.
Another thing well worth consideration is autumn colour, and this is gained by planting a proportion of subjects, the leaf changes of which in autumn add brilliance to the border. Any reader who finds joy in the autumn woodland knows what colour-change means. There is a homely example of it on many a house in the form of the Virginian Creeper.
The Thorns give us some of the most beautiful colour among small trees, particularly the varieties of the Cockspur Thorn (Crataegus Crus-galli); prunifolia and splendens are very showy. The species coccinea also has beautiful autumn colour.
Reference has already been made to the Japanese Maples, as subjects which provide warm colours, and their hues deepen in autumn. But many of the Maples have beautiful colour in the fall. The Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) has many good forms, and none better for late colour than that called Reitenbachii. Dasycarpum, macrophyllum, rubrum and ginnala are other brilliant leaved species of Acer.
The golden leaves of the Chestnuts add another to the already strong claims of this noble tree, and Beech colour is also an asset.
The Barberries are full of leaf-colour. The splendid B. Darwinii has charming tones when its orange flowers come towards the close of winter. Thunbergii takes on a lovely tint of orange in autumn. And the common vulgaris is not to be despised then.
The splendid Catalpa bignonioides, a tree too little used, considering that it will thrive in town gardens, and makes a beautiful lawn tree, is very bright in autumn.
The Vines (among which the Virginian Creeper already referred to is classed) give us splendid autumn leaf colour. They are grown botanically under the generic name of Vitis. The species Labrusca turns bright yellow, and the giantic Coignetiae bronzy red. These and Veitch's Virginian Creeper (V. inconstans) are the best for late colour.
There is a charming evergreen grown mainly for its berries and foliage named Cotoneaster microphylla. The species frigida is not so truly evergreen, but it is richer in autumn colour, which is red and yellow.
Amelanchier canadensis (Botryapium) has fine colour in autumn.
Two, at least, of the popular Magnolias, Fraseri and tripetala, are conspicuous for autumn colour.
The scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) should be remembered.
The Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba) turns yellow in autumn.
The foregoing examples show that leaf-change provides autumn tints that are of great value in the garden, prolonging, as they do, the period of beauty. We have still, however, to consider the fruits and berries, which give us a further period of beauty.
It is unnecessary to do more than name the Hollies, about which the absurd belief still persists that a free crop of berries foreshadows a hard winter.
The Thorns are also very familiar, if only through the common Hawthorn, but there are kinds which give much finer fruits than this, notably the Cockspur Thorns just mentioned for their leaf-colour, likewise coccinea (also noted for leaf-colour) mollis, tomentosa, monogyna macrocarpa, the yellow-fruited form of oxycanthoides, pinnatifida (one of the largest), the black nigra, cordata, and the popular Pyracantha. Lalandii is a splendid form of this, which fruits abundantly.
Fig. The Popular Pryacantha; Lalandii Is A Splendid Form. Painted by A. C. Wyatt.
The genus Pyrus, including as it does the cultivated Apple and Pear, is looked to confidently for ornamental fruit, and we find it splendidly developed in the Crabs, notably the Siberian and the horticultural forms Transparent, Dartmouth, and John Downie. The beautiful Pyrus spectabilis, which, as we have already seen, is worth planting for its bloom, has handsome fruit, and so has Pyrus Ringo. One of the best known Pyruses is certainly Aucuparia, the Mountain Ash or Rowan, which has handsome foliage and scarlet fruits. There is a yellow form of it, very beautiful, but not often seen. There are many other Pyruses with attractive fruit.
The Cotoneasters must be considered. The best known is the small-leaved microphylla, which has white flowers followed by vermilion berries and evergreen foliage. Simonsii has orange berries. Frigida has already been mentioned in connection with leaf-colouring in autumn; it has pretty red berries in clusters.
The Roses, so beautiful for their flowers, are in many cases fruit-bearers, and their heps are very ornamental. The Penzance Briers have real beauty in their bright fruits. The largest heps are found in the Japanese Rose (rugosa) and pomifera. Both species have red fruits, in the case of the latter species hairy. The fruit of Rosa microphylla is yellow, spiny and highly perfumed, that of R. spinosissima black.
The Pernettyas are perhaps the prettiest of all low, berry-bearing shrubs. They are evergreens and thrive in beds of peat and loam. Small, neat, compact, with white, pink, red or purple berries, they are exquisite little plants.
The Sumachs (Rhus) have ornamental fruits. The berries of the Honeysuckle are familiar. The Yews are also well-known. The Snowberry (Symphoricarpus racemosus) is often met with. Cydonia (Pyrus) japonica and Maulei, with their varieties, have large red fruits that are often jellied. The Quince, well suited for a moist spot, is both brilliant and aromatic in fruit.
Fig. Cydonia (Pyrus) Japonica And Maulei. With Their Varieties, Have Large Red Fruits That Are Often Jellied. Painted by A. C. Wyatt.
There are many other subjects which the reader may meet with in botanical gardens, in large nursery gardens and in the collections of connoisseurs. They will serve to strengthen his conviction that in forming shrubberies he cannot afford to put aside the claims of fruit and berry-bearing plants.
With subjects valuable for their leaf and stem tints, or their fruits, he can add materially to the beauty of the garden, and it is particularly gratifying to remember that with their aid colour can be maintained for a long period. One season of the year is linked with another. Pleasing and harmonious hues lighten the gloom of autumn. Brilliant berries beguile the winter.