"Colours of Orange"

Orange NSW has great autumn colours.
Sunday, 26 April 2015     

Pistacia chinensis at Campbells Corner in Orange NSW

Every autumn, I like to visit a place where the season is truly celebrated by a display of colourful deciduous leaves. Whilst we can get a reasonable autumn show by choosing amongst the trees that colour up in our warm temperate climate (as described here), it is a delight to revel in seeing autumn in all its glory, where the whole landscape is lit up: such as in inland NSW. The cooler nights and more extreme day/night temperature differences in such areas allow for the best development of the coloured leaf pigments as chlorophyll is withdrawn from the leaves of deciduous trees.

Last year, I went to Mt Wilson, in the Blue Mountains; this year I travelled further west to Orange for the Anzac weekend. As we drove along past Lithgow, the huge golden torches of poplar trees planted in avenues in paddocks looked stunning, backlit by the sun. No one in their right mind would plant one of these in a suburban garden, but in a rural setting, they are a wonderful source of autumn colour to admire. The city of Orange is renowned for its public planting of a diversity of majestic autumn-colouring trees - and there is even a map produced for visitors detailing the location of different trees in the various main streets and parks. In many cases, they have been mass-planted to form magnificent avenues - some dating back almost 100 years - and are an awe-inspiring sight.

Some of the outstanding specimens that we wouldn't often see in Sydney except in cool, elevated microclimates include stands of red-hued pin oaks (Quercus palustris); beautiful snow pears (Pyrus nivalis) , ornamental pears (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') and Manchurian pears (Pyrus ussuriensis); and many plane trees (Platanus species). Magnificent golden elms (Ulmus glabra 'Lutescens'), Nyssa sylvatica, tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera), claret ash (Fraxinus angustifolia 'Raywood') and golden ash (Fraxinus excelsior 'Aurea') are also grown to perfection in Orange.

Fiery colours are also provided by the foliage of liquidambars (Liquidambar styraciflua), pistachio trees (Pistacia chinensis), maples (Acer species and cultivars), crepe myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) and tallowwood (Sapium sebiferum)* trees - which all actually also do quite well in Sydney too: but in Orange the hues seem just so much more vivid! And there are just so many more of them around - giving a sensational autumn ambience to the whole city.

Just out of the city, we discovered a public park created many years ago by a landowner, who planted a grove of more than 100 cold-climate trees at the far end of his property and allowed public access to it. Known as Campbells Corner, this park has many deciduous trees (especially pistachio trees) that glow against the backdrop of the muted evergreens. There are also many beautiful autumn berry-bearing shrubs, including red, orange and yellow Cotoneaster, smothered in fruit, and hawthorn (Crataegus) trees. All across the surrounding countryside, even the leaves of grape vines are currently glowing brilliant yellow!

I find that by visiting a cold-climate place in autumn, I can satisfy the need for that rich palette that will never happen in my own Sydney garden. Over the years, it has been very helpful for me to understand how the parameters of climate determine what will grow best for us. I know that my warm-climate plants would be dead after a few nights of an inland winter. It's always fun to push the limits of one's climate, but after failing with more cold-climate plants than I care to remember over the years, I am very happy to enjoy them vicariously in places like Orange where they really thrive!

* The Chinese tallowwood is now called Triadica sebifera. In many areas, especially warm zones, it is now classed as a noxious weed because it spreads by seed and suckers, and can invade bushland.

 Reader Comments

1/15  Stephen - 3064 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 27 April 2015

Both my wife and I love Autumn and the spectacular colours it produces as the leaves show off their golden glory. A few days ago we went up Mount Macedon and the shades of Red, Orange and Gold was a site to behold. I wonder if any members have managed a trip to Bright this Autumn. They have an Autumn festival and the trees respond spectacularly. I love to see the leaves on the ground, planus provide a a particularly good carpet that swirl when you walk through them. Bright will definitely be on my autumn-leaves trip for next year! Thanks for telling us about them. Deirdre

2/15  Karen - 4228 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 27 April 2015

The photos are lovely, the colours, glorious! It is a wonderful experience to visit places that have an obvious change of season. It certainly is and I enjoy having a short trip every autumn to see the foliage in somewhere that does autumn well! Deirdre

3/15  Rebecka - 2481 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Monday, 27 April 2015

Wouldn"t you just LOVE to do that - to have so much land that you could create a garden in part of it and then open it up to the public? Oh my, I"d love to do that... See comment by Helen below - I had the story a bit wrong as apparently it was always public land but Mr Campbell did look after the corner and it is a truly lovely spot. Deirdre

4/15  Bronwyn - 2089 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 27 April 2015

I have been visiting Canberra throughout early April and it has been magnificent, particularly the older inner suburbs. Street trees, parks and private gardens all contribute to some stunning vistas that just stop you in your tracks. It is well worth a visit at this time of the year. Another destination for me another autumn. Late April seems to be the best time for the leaves inland - in Sydney the leaves that do colour do not seem to do so until May. Deirdre

5/15  Enid - 4011 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Monday, 27 April 2015

We have just been to Beechworth to see the autumn colours. They are spectacular. One of the impressive aspects of this old town is the variety of shapes and colours one sees in the autumn display. Thanks to the gardeners who continue to expand this variety. The combination of the beautiful old stone buildings and the autumn colours would be hard to beat anywhere in Australia. We also went to Mt Macedon , a small gem in comparison. It sounds fantastic. I love visiting country towns at any time of year but in autumn, they are very special. Deirdre

6/15  Ambra - 2010 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 27 April 2015

I"ve just filed a piece on "autumn colours" for the NRMA"s "Living Well Navigator" site (published Thursday 30/4) and while researching was amazed that I"d never heard of the Auburn Botanical Gardens in western Sydney. It"s a really lovely place to visit, especially during autumn and there"s an Autumn Festival in late May. Highly recommended.

7/15  Geoff - 2323 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 27 April 2015

Having grown up just out of Orange, and enjoying the delights of the Autumn colours, and a subsequent move to the Coast, I still enjoy return visits there to marvel at the seasonal colours. I developed a technique of drying the leaves to retain their colours, then placing them between sheets of clear contact. These were then placed in sun-filled classroom windows to allow children from warmer climates to enjoy and discover the leaf shapes and colours. What a wonderful idea to preserve the leaves and put them in the classroom. It would be lovely seeing the sun come through the leaves on the windows. Deirdre

8/15  Helen - 2027 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 27 April 2015

Campbell "s Corner was once a public tennis court where everyone on Pinnacle Rd. played tennis. The men who played every Sunday - including my father -planted the trees and shrubs in the 40s.It was always public land but was looked after by Mr. Campbell who lived nearby. It was stunning when I was growing up nearby - I"m so glad it is still there to celebrate all those orchardists who still loved planting and tending trees ,even when they had a day off to play tennis. Helen Thanks so much for clarifying the history of Campbells Corner. It looks fabulous and is a beautiful autumnal sight for people visiting the wineries on Pinnacle Road. Deirdre

9/15  Helen - 7256 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 27 April 2015

Lucky Lois - I don"t know anything about what gardens she should visit. But on mt one & only trip to North America 30 years ago - I was not then the manic gardener I am now. it was the MAGNIFICENT TREES of upstate New York that made the biggest impression. Far more awe inspiring than any Statue of Liberty/Empire State Building! I have never been to the US but those trees sound wonderful. I enjoy the natural beauty of wherever I travel, just as much as all the buildings. Deirdre

10/15  Barbara - 2081 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 27 April 2015

Deirdre, Once again your blog has uplifted my spirit. The diverse colours and shapes of these magnificent trees nourish my soul and I am inspired yet again to plant a smaller version in our garden. Our neighbour has a very large Liquidambar next to our fence line and we are very fortunate, as most of its leaves fall on our side. Manna from Heaven! I have never been able to visit Orange, but hopefully...one day! "THANK YOU" for sharing this with everyone.

11/15  Patricia - 3672 (Zone:11B - Arid) Monday, 27 April 2015


12/15  Janna - UK Monday, 27 April 2015

I can so relate to this, Deirdre! Paul and I went up to Bilpin this weekend to get a dose of autumn colour. It was so beautiful. Funny, I didn"t miss autumn leaves last year - my first in Sydney - but I really did appreciate them this time around. You have put me to shame though; I got about half way down paragraph two of my "autumn" blog post last night and then my eyelids got very heavy and I went to bed! Glad you got to go to Bilpin at the weekend. I must admit I was really forcing myself to keep going preparing this blog last night! Look forward to reading yours. Deirdre

13/15  Margaret - 2067 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 27 April 2015

I was born in Orange and lived there till I married. Autumn was always lovely and I agree Campbell"s corner a beautiful sight. We still go up to visit occasionally and the hawthorns on the Pinnacle Road in spring are spectacular. Lois should go on the internet to see what gardens to visit in USA. We were there a couple of years ago and saw Longwood PA, NY Botanic Gardens and many of the former country homes of wealthy Americans including the Vanderbilts. Fantastic!! Thanks for those hints for Lois. Great to hear from someone else who also knows Campbells Corner. It is truly a delight. Deirdre

14/15  Beth - 2257 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 27 April 2015

Mayfield in Oberon (NSW) is open this weekend and I can really recommend it. A huge property styled on the very best of European garden design you will not be disappointed if you can get there. Autumn colours and the most wonderful water features. We visited about 10 years ago and are heading up this weekend. Can"t wait. Google it for more detail.

15/15  Marcelle - 2064 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 27 April 2015

Loved your Colours of Autumn blog Deirdre, such amazing colours, have been meaning to visit Orange for some time to enjoy the great colours of autumn something we don"t get to that extent in Sydney, thank you for the beautiful photos and sharing this. I found Orange a great place to visit. It is lovely to escape the city every now and again! Deirdre

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