Shades of pink and purple

One thing I noticed this year is that my fall garden seems to come with a certain floral palette. Many of the flowers that bloom from September onwards come in shades of pink and purple. Starting in mid-September, for example, were these pink flowers of autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale).

Pink flowers on autumn crocus, Colchicum autumnale
Colchicum autumnale

Occurring at about the same time, the pink flowers of the Chinese mint shrub.

Pink spikes of Chinese mint shrub
Elsholtzia stauntonii

And of course, this vivid cape fuchsia, which actually started a little earlier in summer. It’s still blooming now, but much less prolifically.

You can that tell the cape fuchsia flower evolved to be pollinated by hummingbirds because of the long floral tube (where the hummingbirds stick their beak to get the nectar) and because it lacks a scent. Hummingbirds apparently don’t have a sense of smell. Our Anna’s hummingbirds sure appreciate them right about now.

Exploding cascade of pink and yellow cape fuchsia flowers
Phygelius x rectus 'Devil's Tears'

The hardy begonias were also blooming in mid-September. I think this is what is meant by the term “clear pink”. Such a crisp, bright color. The begonias are long gone now. They started dropping their leaves and going dormant back in late October, long before our first frost this past Monday (11/8/2021).

Pink and yellow flowers of Begonia grandis
Begonia grandis

Another plant that has been blooming since September is this Edinburgh dahlia. Although I am a sucker for the pom pom flower type (it’s the symmetry of the petals), I may have outgrown this particular cultivar. It’s sort of a big, unruly mess that flops all over. I’m not one for staking and there are probably several other plants that I would like better.

Purple pompom with white tips - flower de Dahlia 'Edinburg'
Dahlia 'Edinburgh'

Much more well behaved is this dwarfish dahlia, Bednall. I know I am cheating a bit on the pink and purple theme, because the flowers are more of a plush, velvety red. Still, it’s in the same part of the color wheel and it’s my blog, so I am including it here.

Velvety red flowers of Dahlia Bednall
Dahlia 'Bednall'

Technically, these King Henry violas have been blooming since spring, but they are still going strong now in mid-November.

Purple on purple flowers of viola King Henry
Viola 'King Henry'

Same holds true for Geranium ‘Rozanne’, which started much earlier in the year, but is still covered in flowers.

Long-blooming purplish-blue flowers of Geranium Rozanne
Geranium 'Rozanne'

The toad lilies (Tricyrtis formosana ‘Autumn Glow’) started flowering in mid-September along with the colchicums, but they are still blooming now while the colchicums are long gone.

I’ve had a hard time maintaining the toad lilies where I originally planted them under the poplar in the south creek garden. Apparently, toad lilies don’t like to be grown in heavy clay and smothered under wet poplar leaves over the winter. This one seems to have done better planted in a 6 inch thick layer of compost in a more open area of the garden.

Fun purple whirligig flowers of Tricyrtis
Tricyrtis formosana 'Autumn Glow'

Hardy fuchsias, also known as hummingbird fuchsias, continue the pink and purple color theme. And so well named too, because the hummingbirds love them. I particularly enjoy watching hummingbirds when they feed on flowers that hang down like this. They start in low with their beak pointing up into the flower, then as they feed they gradually drift upwards also lifting the flower up with them until it is at about a 45 degree angle. Then, suddenly, the hummingbirds zip away letting the flower drop back down.


Fuchsia magellanica ‘Alba’
purple and red hardy fuchsia flowers
Fuchsia magellanica

Here is a floppy purple delphinium that I never got around to staking up. This is new to the garden this year. It already bloomed once in spring, so I wasn’t expecting much from the delphinium again until next year. I had no idea they would bloom again this fall. I hope they are happy enough to seed around.

Deep purple floppy purple flowers of Delphinium Black Knight
Delphinium grandiflorum 'Black Knight'

Another cheat on the pink/purple theme (maybe) is this epilobium, which started blooming in late September. The color is just this side of a bright reddish-orangish tropical punch pink. Another hummingbird favorite.

Vivid reddish pink flowers on Epilobium (Zauschneria) canum Carmen's Gray
Epilobium canum 'Carmen's Gray'

Monkshood. Another plant that has been blooming since September, although it is winding down now. This one doesn’t need staking like the delphinium and it’s just as tall at about 3 feet. It’s out in the deer garden, where I just hope and pray that the deer take a little nibble…

…but somehow they know this is an extremely toxic plant…

Purple hooded flowers on monkshood 'Late Crop'
Aconitum carmichaelii 'Late Crop'

Fall is when the asters really start to shine. The color on this first one is a little deceptive due to the exposure, but it really is more of a pink (second photo) rather than the lavender color shown in the first photo. This is the same plant that was in the background behind the colchicum at the top of the post. Normally, asters are sort of tall, mangy, and rangy, but Rosenwichtel is a nice dwarf variety with tidy green leaves.

Pink flowers (they look purple) on Rosenwichtel aster
Symphyotrichum novo-belgii 'Rosenwichtel'
Symphytotrichum novo-belgii 'Rosenwichtel'

Words cannot convey how vivid aster ‘Le Reve’ is. It almost burnt out the camera lens.

Blinding, break-the-camera-bright, PINK of aster 'Le Reve'
Symphyotrichum novo-belgii 'La Reve'
To show the eye-blinding pink color of aster 'Le Reve'
Symphyotrichum novo-belgii 'Le Reve'

Another cute aster, this one with tiny purple and white flowers.

Tiny pink and white 'Prince' aster flowers
Symphyotrichum laterifolium 'Prince'

Ivy-leaved cyclamen. Heaviest bloom was back in September/October, though there are still a few flowers out there now. The leaves have emerged since this photo was taken on October 3rd.

Pink flowers emerge in fall before the leaves on ivy-leaved cyclamen
Cyclamen hederifolium

I am cheating now towards the blue end of the spectrum with this gentian sage from October 9th. New this year in the spot where we cut down the Douglas-fir. I was startled one day while walking through the yard and happened to see this bright pop of color out of the corner of my eye. The flowers are enormous for a sage, about 2 inches long. It’s still blooming now. Here’s hoping it makes it through the winter. I took a few cuttings just in case.

Deep blue flowers of Guanajuato salvia
Salvia patens 'Guanajuato'

This leadwort that was planted in 2019 finally bloomed for the first time. Super slow to emerge in spring and very slow growing in my garden. Some have called it “robust”, though that certainly hasn’t been the case in my garden. Maybe I should try another plant elsewhere in the garden to see how it does there.

Purple guppy flower! Actually no, it’s more commonly called the trumpet spurflower, though I don’t really see much of a trumpet shape or any spurs. Full bloom occurred around October 24th, though there are a couple rather sad looking flowers out there now. This plant has gone through a series of name changes from Plectranthus to Isodon and now to Rabdosia, which reminds me of the Spanish word for rabid…rabiosa. The guppy description came from the original Xera Plants tag, and now that is what I see in my mind every time I see these flowers. Definitely looks like a little school of purple guppies (with big lips) swimming through the air. A+ plant.

Trumpet spurflower purple flowers
Rabdosia longituba

Hard to believe this spiderwort was a tiny little cutting that I took last fall. And look! Here it is one year later blooming it’s little heart out in November. They bloom in spring and then, when they start looking ratty and burnt in summer, I cut them back to the ground and get a second flush of flowers in October/November.

Purple flowers and chartreuse flowers on Sweet Kate spiderwort
Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate'

I was very surprised to get a second set of blooms off of my Hardy Red bottlebrush. I wonder if this means that I won’t have flowers next spring? There are several plants in my garden that are blooming this fall that normally don’t bloom except in spring or summer. I sort of think maybe this was a stress response to the heat and drought this summer and that the return of cooler, wetter weather has fooled some plants into thinking it is spring.

Red bottle brush flowers on Callistemon 'Dark Red'
Callistemon subulatus 'Dark Red'

For example, my Ceanothus ‘Blue Jeans’ has a few purple flowers right now. This has never happened before. The same phenomenon also happened to a  cherry bush that got way too dry and turned crispy while we were on vacation in June. Those flowers were white though, so no photos of the cherry in this post.

Surprise late season purple flowers of Ceanothus Blue Jeans
Ceanothus 'Blue Jeans'

Just a few more photo before wrapping thing up. Here is a blurry close-up of an Iranian germander…

Purply-red spikes on Iranian germander
Teucrium hircanicum

…and the final, fading pink flowers of Kent Beauty oregano.

Faded pink shrimp flowers on Kent Beauty oregano
Origanum 'Kent Beauty'

And last of all, the vibrant reddish pink of red bistort (aka firesticks).

Spikes of purple-pink on Golden Arrow red bistort
Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Golden Arrow'
Close-up red bistort flower spike
Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Golden Arrow'

So, that’s most of the pink and purple flowers occurring in my garden this fall. There are very few whites, yellows, or oranges (or true reds and blues). Not sure if that is because of the way I have selected plants over the years or if there is something larger at play going on evolutionarily. A lot of these flowers are late season hummingbird flowers (cape fuschia, hardy fuschia, purple guppy flower, epilobium, and bottlebrush), but there are also a few that are primarily bee pollinated (like the asters).

Just curious, are there any trends in flower colors that occur in your garden in fall?

Week of 11/8/2021 to 11/14/2021: Low = 32°F (Monday). High = 65°F (Friday). Weekly precipitation = 2.67 inches (rain).

Garden chores accomplished: Scattered seed of California and Oregon spring annuals, pulled some ivy from neighboring woods, weeded, added basalt rock to new rock garden area (where the Douglas-fir was removed this summer), tightened and attached a new section of deer fence to posts, and built a wood cover to disguise half of an electric car charger.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. CFS

    The Tricyrtis is usually my late season hanger-on. But this year, as you mentioned, it seems like many things are getting a second life. The Abultion keeps going, the Callistemon have bequeathed a 2nd bloom, and tender perennials are not yet ready for the greenhouse.


      Such a weird year. I don’t have an abutilon yet, but I am starting to think I might get one. We’ve had our second frost this week, so all of our tender plants are already ensconced in their little protective bubble.

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