Monday, October 10, 2011

The Colors of the Fall Foliage Around You

Good gardening friend Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club sends out a great newsletter every week with pertinent gardening topics. I encourage you to go to his website to sign up for his newsletter. Paul can also be heard every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 10 AM at his website or at WBACH (104.7 FM) every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 9 AM. Paul recently sent this article out called "The Colors of the Fall Foliage Around You" (I occasionally add a few comments in italics) and here it is:

"I think that I enjoy the fall season more than any other seasons, because it's Mother Nature's turn to show off all of her hard work. It's also the perfect time for us to add color to our yards by looking at the colors of the foliage around us. If you enjoy red flowers in your garden during the summer months, then why not plant shrubs and trees that have red foliage during the fall months?

Fall is a season for every color in the rainbow--from reds to pinks, gold, orange, and yellow. So look around you at your gardens and your friends' gardens as you drive around town or on the trip to the mountains for the fabulous fall foliage color. Then visit your local nursery and take advantage of their fall sales to add color to your garden during the fall months. Here are some of my favorite plants to add color to your yard this fall.

Let us start with the trees, because they form the canopy over and around our property and will give us the most color for our money. The color of the foliage will vary from year to year, depending on the rainfall during the summer months and during the early weeks of fall. Also helping to determine the color is the temperature during the color changeover and the health of the tree overall. The length of the color on the tree is also determined by the weather and all it takes is a big rain and wind storm and the show is over--but nice "Indian Summer" weather will extend the show of fall foliage for many extra days.

The Gorgeous Norway Maple!

  • The Maple family: Has the best color in the fall and a wide selection of colors to choose from but there are many other trees just as beautiful to look at, so print this list when you go "Leaf Peeping."
    • Norway Maple: best shades of yellow to gold and even a bit of orange on the same leaf.
    • The Norway maple Hybrid 'Crimson King' has reddish purple leaves spring to fall.
    • Red Maple: Brilliant and the best reds, with splashes of orange and yellow mixed on the same tree.
    • Silver Maple: Yellow and orange blend with a splash of red on the same tree.
  • The Oak family: Known for shades of reds and deep green on the same leaf that will often develop later during the fall season and fade to reddish-brown. Some varieties hold the leaves well into winter.
  • The Birch family: known for bright golden yellow foliage and the wonderful white papery looking bark.
  • White Ash: known for the reds and purple shades mixed on the foliage.
  • Green Ash: known for superb yellow to gold foliage.
  • Beech family: known for bright yellow to golden brown to brown leaves that stay on the tree until winter.
  • Ginkgo: brilliant bright yellow for many days but all the leaves will fall from the tree at the same time.
  • Elms: shades of yellow with lines of green running thru it before turning brown and falling.
  • The Linden family: shades of striking yellow to gold foliage.
  • The Flowering Pear family: starts as a shiny yellow-orange then changes to red. Striking.
  • The Flowering Crabapples: shades of deep bright orange and red on the same leaf.
  • The Dogwood family: red to reddish purple and red to bright orange on the same leaves.
  • The Shadblow family: bright orange and very striking.
  • The Weeping Willow family: bright and shiny yellow foliage.
  • The Mountain Ash family: showy golden yellow foliage.
  • The Sourwood: begins yellow, then turns to shades of red and maroon foliage.
  • The Dawn Redwood: an evergreen needle that will turn orange-brown to reddish-brown and drop.
  • The Larch family: an evergreen needle that will turn bright yellow to gold and drop.

Here are a few suggestions for the best shrubs for fall foliage color for your yard and your gardens!

Many of these shrubs also have beautiful flowers and fruit on them so the fall foliage is just an added benefit to the plant. Fall is for planting, so take advantage of the sales at your local nursery and get your yard landscaped this month and save money at the same time.

The Burning Bush is the KING of all fall foliage shrubs. In some states it has been removed from the nurseries and is not available for sale because these states overplanted them along the roadways and they have become invasive. These states will not agree with me but see for yourself when you drive along the highways how many are planted on the side of overpasses to prevent erosion, to give color to the highway and make the roadways look more beautiful during your many hours of traveling.

You all know the Burning Bush because of its wonderful bright fire-engine red foliage during the month of October. I Have several in my yard and have never seen seedlings develop around the plants, but because state horticulturists who overplanted them have passed a law preventing them from being sold, you are no longer able to purchase them in my state. If you have a Burning Bush in your yard please look around your property for seedlings and let me know if your plants have become invasive!
  • The Viburnum family: varying shades of reds to reddish purple and very showy.
  • The Witchhazel family: brilliant yellow to orange foliage.
  • The Enkianthus family: bright red foliage with a bit of yellow splash on the inner leaves of the plant.
  • The Sumac family: rich reds, scarlet, maroon and some new hybrids shades of yellow foliage.
  • The Shrub-type Dogwoods: shades of red foliage with colorful stems that are red or golden yellow.
  • The Fothergilla family: wonderful shades of yellow, orange, and red blended on the foliage.
  • Oakleaf Hydrangea: unusual shades of reds to purples on the foliage.
  • Rhododendron PJM: burgundy red fall color
  • Rhododendron mucronulatum: Deciduous variety with yellow fall foliage.
  • The Cotoneaster family: shiny bright red to reddish purple.
  • Bridal wreath: orange and red combinations on the foliage.
  • Forsythia family: green and burgundy foliage
  • Kerria family: pale to medium yellow foliage.
  • Blueberries: shades of yellow, orange and changing to bronze and red foliage.
  • The Leucothoe family: rich wine to burgundy evergreen foliage during the winter months.

There are a few vines and ground covers with good fall color that you should also look for at your local nursery. Most plants stay green or the foliage falls off the plant green in the fall season, but look for these two plants and you will not go wrong.

Boston ivy: bright reds, crimson and even new hybrids with yellow foliage, the best vine for fall color.
Euonymus Coloratus: my favorite ground cover will turn a plum-purple color from the first frost and last until the new growth develops in the spring before turning green again.

When selecting plants for your yard and garden it is always better to select plants that will provide you with more than one quality while in your care. The flowers are nice but they can only last for so long and if fall color is also available you have a plant with two qualities, not just flowers for 4 to 8 weeks a year. Enjoy!

I have one more suggestion for you for this fall. If you have family or friends who live in an area of the country where the foliage does not change colors in the fall, do this for them. Pick an assortment of colorful leaves and stuff a bag with them, then send them out to them where they live. I do this every year and take a large zip lock bag. Place a couple paper towels that are wet to cover the leaves and place in the bag. The leaves stay moist and hold their color until they get there. I use a Priority Mail envelop from the post office and it gets there in a couple of days for less than $10.00. It's a wonderful gift for people who have moved out of the area; it will bring back many memories for them. Great for the grandkids who live in the South where the closest thing to colorful plants is ORANGES on a tree. "

Thanks Paul Parent for a super article! Folks we can talk to you about a number of these plants right here at Skillin's. And Paul is right our shrubs and trees are on sale!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
October 10, 2011

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