Autumn is the season where the growing is winding down, however, there is still plenty of garden tasks. There is no doubt this is my favorite season. The air is crisp in the morning and perfect for hiking or working in the garden. The rains have begun and the lush greens have returned, plus more rain means less attention to watering. I am inspired by the brilliant colors around us. I cannot get outside enough to enjoy the fall colors and even with the fires around the state there are still some beautiful areas and gardens that are flourishing.

A combination of red, yellow, and orange leaves in the landscape give the feeling of passion and intensity. Whether your yard is large or small there are gorgeous options for color (and texture) to incorporate into your garden.

Whenever I see a Cercis Canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ (Redbud shrub) I always fall in love. Perhaps it is the attractive heart shaped leaves and compact weeping variety. This shrub provides gorgeous year-round interest. Purple leaves provide a little bit of flair in the garden, especially next to pale blue or bright green conifers. If you are a purple lover, another plant with purple-reddish leaves is Cotinus Coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ (Smoke bush). This plant actually is grown in tree or shrub form that looks great year-round; some varieties even turn shades of orange in the fall. Just keep in mind given the right conditions this tree can become very large… up to twenty-five feet! A very popular choice are dogwoods. Cornus Kousa ‘Radient Rose’ (Pink Kousa Japanese Dogwood) tends to be fairly cold and heat tolerant compared to the Florida selections. This tree has a few seasons of interest with deep pink flowers blossoming in the spring and fall leaf foliage is bright, fire engine red.

Naturally, I can’t write a blog post on autumn color without mentioning at least a few Japanese Maples. Japanese Maples are known for their awesome color with over 1,000 cultivars. There is a wide selection that includes varieties of upright, umbrella, weeping, dwarf and more.

Known for its gorgeous crimson and golden fall color the Acer palmatum ‘Omure yama’ (Japanese Maple) is heat and sun tolerant. This tree can be staked early in its growth to create a strong central leader but as the tree matures the branches tend to be long and slender which creates a nice weeping habit. Full sun and heat tolerant.

A very striking tree would be the Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’ (Japanese Maple Coral Bark). This tree has a multitude of interest throughout the year. Stems turn a stark bright red in winter. Against the right back drop this can be magnificent. As summer approaches the leaves turn rich green. And then, in the fall the leaves turn a yellow-golden color. A great small tree, just be sure to protect it from the hottest sun. (15×10’) Something to keep in mind with this tree the hardiness level at minus 15 degrees.

Creating a landscape with continual color will give an elegant appearance. There are many options for fall color including a wide range of trees and shrubs. I highly recommend you research evergreen shrubs with fall color- there is quite a selection.

Written by

Karen Smith
Karen Smith, Lane Forest Products Plant Specialist

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