Is it just me or have the fall colours in the city this season been better than previous years? I find myself wanting to take pictures of everything.
Ginkgos have definitely topped my list with their buttery, saffron yellow leaves. I wish they would hold on to their branches just a little longer. Something about the bifurcation (split leaf) creates an elegance that few trees can match. That, plus the idea that they have existed on the planet over 270 million years ago makes this a slam dunk in my books.
Another one I can't get enough of is Liquidambar styriciflua, or Sweet Gum (image above). Their canopy is always so full of fiery red-yellow leaf brilliance. They are definitely in the same league as the fall colour king, the maples. Wikipedia says it "has been characterized not simply as a flame, but a conflagration". Now that's high praise.
It would be remiss of me to not mention Calicarpa bodinieri, Beautyberry. It's all in the name. The violet-purple berries look almost fake. I've seen people walk by the shop and have this one stop them in their tracks. "Did I really see that or was it that garden shop playing tricks on me"? This one kinda creeps up on you. It has a lame flower in spring followed by uninteresting leaves in the summer. The berries come on in August and show their gorgeous colour by mid September. It's only when they drop their leaves in October that you get the full effect. HELLO!
Lastly, I've really been enjoying the amazing diversity of small evergreen plants available to the Vancouver gardener. Hellebores, Gaultheria procumbens, and Polystichum come to mind. They fill such important gaps in our gardens. It's just so nice to have some texture and green even when it's 2 degrees out and the rain seems like it's never going to end. These guys can help you through.
One thing that's happened in the industry is that small coniferous trees have hit the scene in a big way, offering that cutesy, 'mini' look that seems to be on trend. Firs, spruces, and cypresses all have teeny-tiny cultivars now that only put on 2-3" of growth/year, making them awesome friends for bonsai and/or containers at the front steps for the holiday/winter season. The beauty of it all is that they are all hardy, some of them to -25C.