Burgundy The Hot Color for Fall Gardens

Dave Schwab

Fri October 30, 2015 2:45pm

Burgundy appeared this year on fashion runways as a top designer favorite. But it seems that plant lovers are ahead of fashion houses in this color trend. For several years plant breeders have been showing off wine-colored plants that have gardeners drooling. But it’s not necessarily the blossoms that are burgundy. In fact, more likely it’s the foliage. Descriptions may range from burgundy and merlot to garnet and oxblood. The color is a deep red of varying shades but, no matter what you call it, it’s a deep, saturated color very much in keeping with the cooler seasons of fall and winter.
Consider these rich merlot- and garnet-toned plants for your fall garden.
Heuchera 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” has leaves that are rich chocolate on top and deep burgundy on the bottom. The extreme ruffling exposes both fall colors at once. With leaves in a rusty merlot, “Cherry Cola” forms small plants that are perfect for the front of beds and pots.
“Autumn Leaves,” naturally, is perfect for autumn. The beautifully rounded leaves are bold red in spring, taupe in summer and ruby red in fall. “Fire Alarm” is another heuchera with four distinct seasons of color. This one’s bright red in spring, brown red in summer then turns oxblood in fall. “Fire Chief” is a glowing wine-red all year. Like rich red leather, “Mahogany” is a purple overlaid with a silver sheen, turning to garnet in fall and winter.
It’s difficult to leave the excitement of coral bells without mentioning the amazing assortment of other fall colors — obsidian, copper, orange, cinnamon-peach, gold, silver with striking black veins, gold with red centers and red veining, and dark purple. Clearly, coral bells are one of autumn’s great plants.
Loropetalum It’s possible to find varieties of Chinese fringe-flower with purple (almost black) foliage as well as bronzy green. But the ones in the burgundy-merlot range are “Burgundy Blast,” “Ruby” with very dark burgundy leaves and “Ever Red.” All three form six-foot shrubs but can easily be kept smaller if desired. Gallon-sized plants make great anchors for fall container gardens.
Gaura This is a favorite waterwise plant, and the variety “Crimson Butterflies” has hot pink flowers that seem to float above beautiful wine-colored leaves.
Osteospermum African daisies have been used as common freeway plants since they’re tough and can really take the heat. But the new ones are exponentially improved in color and appearance. Look for the new mounding varieties “Burgundy” and “Serenity Red.” These will bloom all fall long.
Rex Begonia Rex begonias used to be difficult to find, but with the craze for unusual and colorful foliage plants, they’re commonly available during all but the coldest months. They’re best planted in containers. Although there are other colors in their leaves, “Painter’s Palette” and “Ruby Slippers” are predominately rich, saturated wine-red.
Viola 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 amazing: think it’s tough to decide your favorite flavor at Menchie’s or Yogurtland? Try choosing from the 42 different Sorbets with names like “Banana Cream” and “Coconut Swirl”! If you’re looking for burgundy, however, there’s only one: the gorgeous “Carmine Rose.”
Gary Jones is chief norticulturist at Armstrong Garden Centers. Email him your drought and gardening questions to growingdialogue@armstronggarden.com.