Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fall Color Must Haves!

Perennials: Montauk Daisies (Labeled sometimes as Nipponanthemum nipponicum,Chrysanthemum nipponicum or Leucanthemum nipponicum) these luscious late blooming perennials grow to be a big stand of cheerful daisies over thick almost succulent-looking foliage. Asters, whether a small mounded variety like Wood’s purple or a tall wild variety, there is room in every
perennial bed for these native fall flowers. Sedums, low growing varieties as well as the ‘live forever’ varieties, which offer more height and late season color.

Even in the shade there is late color to be found. Monkshood (Aconitum) for tall spikes of deep purple blooms. Toad Lilies (Trycyrtis) are lovely fall-flowering perennials with orchid-like blooms. (Why more people don’t know about this stunning shade plant, I don’t know!) But flowers are not the only things that can add interest through the fall. Japanese painted ferns (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) and Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa) offer foliage with color and texture for the shade all season long.

Shrubs: The fall-fruiting shrubs Callicarpa, Elderberry, Pyracanthus, Winterberry, Holly, and Cotoneaster of course. But also Itea, which gets outrageous bright red fall color (a good
alternative to the invasive Burning Bush) and can tolerate wet conditions pond side or stream side. Fothergilla, a Victoria Gardens’ favorite for its multicolored, almost metallic fall foliage. Perhaps an unexpected autumn star is the blueberry bush (Vaccinium spp. ). Besides producing delicious fruit, this very cold-hardy shrub also produces fabulous fall color.

Trees: If there were a beauty pageant for fall foliage, the
Sourwood tree (Oxydendrum arboreum) would definitely be Miss Universe. Vibrant and vivacious, the sourwood leaves often transition from green to an orange red to brick red to flaming scarlet and display the most vivid fall colors of any tree species. And this color display occurs while the drooping white panicles persist into autumn. (”Sourwood” is a terribly drab name for such a remarkable tree, but refers to the taste of the leaves.)

Other fall stand outs are the Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum), which displays yellow to apricot fall foliage and Purple Dwarf Beech, which has deep purple foliage all season long. Washington Hawthorns (Crataegus phaenopyrum) turn a super saturated yellow, while Dogwoods get black and red fall berries. Seven Sons Tree (Heptacodium miconioides) is covered in white fragrant blooms from late summer to early fall.

Last, but certainly not least the Franklin Tree or “the lost camellia” (Franklinia alatamaha) is an American Native that is hard to propagate and is therefore sought after and sometimes hard to find. Franklinia produces large, white, fragrant flowers with a flurry of bright, egg-yellow stamens starting in late summer and continues to flower until frost (yes, until frost!) as the foliage turns colors from green to fire engine red to deep purple.