Traditionally autumn is illustrated with New England foliage but every gardener in every region knows a different aesthetic. In the West, with so many different plants that grow here, we can have both traditional and nontraditional autumn color.

Autumn floral bouquet, with grasses, branches, seeds, foliage, leaves, flowers at Digging Dog Nursery

I did a recent post about California autumn and it seems so limited now that November is here.  Autumn keeps coming on, and indeed will probably not peak until late in the month. So I will expand by going outside California and include Oregon for this round of photos.

Here, in Hoyt Arboretum in Portland we see vivid oranges and yellows, first here in the staghorn sumac:

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) fall foliage and branch pattern, Hoyt Arboretum

And here Cotinus ‘Grace’. Standing under these tall Cotinus and looking up with backlight, the leaves take on the luminescence of a stainglass window.

Fall color on Cotinus ‘Grace’ tall shrub underneath looking up, Hoyt Arboretum

Also in Portland is this marvelous garden design by Sean Hogan; and really and what makes it so wonderful this time of year is the borrowed scenery of Liquid Amber trees outside of the garden, which provides background color from both the front garden . . .

Yucca rostrata with Arctostaphylos (manzanita) against autumn trees foliage backdrop, in Portland garden in autumn

. . . and from the back garden:

Foliage textures with Nolina, Agave, Salvia, Palm, Musa in Kuzma Garden

Notice how autumn sage is still going strong.

Another Oregon garden that is enhanced by borrowed scenery of autumn is the O’Byrne garden and what they called the chaparral garden section of summer-dry plants.

The Chaparral (dry) garden O’Byrne Oregon with colorful autumn foliage hybrid poplar trees

The still green leaves and red fruit of their variegated Cornus kousa tree are also enhanced by the borrowed fall foliage beyond the tree.

Cornus kousa variegata, Variegated Cornus Kousa tree with autumn berries, O’Byrne garden

A few years ago I went to Digging Dog Nursery in Mendocino to photograph autumn geraniums. I just could not stop taking pictures in the fall gardens there. Gary Ratway is a brilliant designer and his wife Deborah Wigham has a way with plants. These hornbeams columns with glowing with fall color.

Hornbeam trees (Carpinus betulus) pruned as columns with boxwood ball evergreen shrubs by gravel path entry to Gary Ratway garden

I couldn’t resist these necklaces of a Berberis.

Red berries of Berberis (Barberry) shrub in autumn, Gary Ratway garden

And the fall bouquet that Deborah put together that day, November 5, was simply astounding.

Autumn floral bouquet, with grasses, branches, seeds, foliage, leaves, flowers at Digging Dog Nursery; design Deborah Wigham.

I don’t think any western garden is complete without ornamental grasses and autumn is when they really shine, especially when backlit as this Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberturm’.

Ornamental grass, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberturm’ or ‘Silver Tower’ catching the light in sunny garden

And grasses group together on a hillside garden meadow with flowering Salvia leucantha.

Salvia leucantha, Mexican Bush Sage flowering in California hillside garden among serpentine rocks with grasses, lavender, succulents and sculpture;

A truly unexpected autumn vignette is this Jelly Palm in Ruth Bancroft Garden, delicious orange fruit scattered the ground in the last post, but when I reviewed that file I realized the whole tree is fantastically set off by the colors of borrowed scenery.

Butia capitata, Jelly palm or Pindo palm, orange edible fruit in Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, California

And I must finish with a very classic fall foliage combination that would be at home in New England – this is the garden at Filoli, the way it will look later in November. 

Autumn (fall) color tapestry in California Filoli garden, Hydrangea, Japanese maples, Yoshino Cherry (middle yellow), dogwood, Ginkgo

I hope all of you have a chance to get out and enjoy the fall colors.  They are out there to be found. Go find beauty.

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