“Fall is a second spring, where every leaf is a flower.”
When we think of beautiful gardens, most of us think of spring flowers. But the fall season can easily match springtime in terms of beauty and color. Fall is also an excellent time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials because the cooler temperatures enable plants to establish roots before freezing weather sets in. This fall, plant a few of these best trees, shrubs and perennials for fall color—and see just how colorful a late-season garden can be!
Sugar Maple Tree
Maple trees are famous for their luxurious shade in summer and breathtaking foliage in fall. The bright red leaves herald the onset of cooler months and darker days, and one of the nation’s most iconic trees. Most of us plant these great trees for their ornamental value, but did you know you can also harvest them in winter for maple syrup?
Introducing, the Sugar Maple tree: an excellent variety for its summer shade, and exceptional sap for tapping your very own maple syrup. It also happens to be one of the best varieties for fall color. You’ll be dazzled by Sugar Maple’s display of yellows, oranges and reds. Available at NatureHills.com for $55.95. Hardy in zones 3-8.
Arctic Sun Dogwood
No fall or winter garden is quite the same without a dogwood! Native to North America, these shrubs/small trees are famous for their bright red or yellow bark that glows against the winter snow. Their foliage displays in autumn, however, are just as spectacular. The light green leaves turn a brilliant shade of yellow as the weather cools before giving way to colorful twigs. In early spring, look forward to dogwood’s delicate clusters of white flowers: one of the first to emerge in spring.
For a splendid touch of yellow in fall and winter, plant one or two of the ‘Arctic Sun’ dogwoods in your backyard. Their autumn leaves, bright gold, are only matched by the equally bright gold stems that appear in winter. Hardy in zones 4-7, ‘Arctic Fire’ is available for $22.95 at WaysideGardens.com.
Purple Dome New England Aster
One of the season’s latest bloomers, asters are daisy-like perennials with light blue-deep purple flowers. Not only do asters provide gorgeous contrast to the yellows and reds of fall leaves, but they are also a vital source of nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators. Adaptable and drought tolerant, asters are one of the toughest perennials around.
If you are looking for an exceptional variety with a neat, rounded habit, consider the striking Purple Dome Aster. It’s a New England type variety sporting hundreds of flowers. Hardy in zones 3-8, it’s available for $10.99 at HighCountryGardens.com.
‘Mr. Goodbud’ Sedum
Another late season bloomer, sedum is a must-have for the fall garden. Also known as stonecrop, sedums are extremely tough perennials with long-lasting flowers that bloom late summer through fall. Their flower clusters, which can range from pale yellow and orange to varying shades of pink, are a butterfly magnet. Try planting sedum anywhere that other plants struggle, including rock gardens, steep slopes and dusty clay soils; sedum can handle it all – cold or heat – so long as it gets plenty of sunshine.
For spectacular fall flowers, try ‘Mr. Goodbud’ sedum, a beautiful variety sporting huge, bright pink flowerheads. It has a tidy, rounded habit, slightly wider than it is tall, with an impressive flower display that lasts. Available at WaysideGardens.com for $12.95. Hardy in zones 3-9.
‘Purple Pearls’ Beautyberry
Beautyberry is a small shrub with a big impact. Starting in late summer, beautyberry displays clusters of jewel-like purple berries that give it its name. These last through autumn, complementing the shrub’s dark-purple fall foliage. Leave the majority of the fruit-laden branches out for the backyard birds to enjoy, but bring a few indoors – they make a wonderful addition to cut flower arrangements. With so much to offer, it’s a mystery why this special shrub isn’t more popular.
This fall, plant the flashy ‘Purple Pearls’ beautyberry. With especially large and flashy berry displays, it is sure to turn heads. Available for $19.95 at WaysideGardens.com. Hardy in zones 6-8.
‘Autumn Brilliance’ Serviceberry
A small tree with many names, serviceberry is also known as Amelanchier and Juneberry. This is one of those special plants that sports multiple-season appeal. In early spring, clusters of bright white flowers appear, followed by pretty — and delicious — purple berries in summer. In autumn, the blue-green leaves turn a brilliant, glowing red.
For maximum fall appeal, plant the aptly-named ‘Autumn Brilliance’ serviceberry variety. It features prized red-orange foliage that you must see to believe. Widely adaptable and low maintenance, this native tree is hardy in zones 3-8. Available for $44.95 at NatureHills.com.