You may think that the beginning of autumn means it’s time to say goodbye to your garden. Not so! By choosing plants with fabulous fall foliage and late-season ornamental features, you can extend the beauty of your garden for many months to come. Here are some of our favorite plants for vibrant fall fabulousness.
TREES AND SHRUBS
Red-Twig Dogwood (Cornus): This shrub provides year-round interest but really earn their keep in autumn and winter. It features white spring blossoms, variegated leaves during summer, and berries from summer to fall, but as temperatures dip and it drops its leaves, its twigs become a bright, cardinal red. Backdropped by fresh snow, it is a glorious site in winter. Grown in masses is particularly effective.
Maple (Acer): A large, easy-care tree that produces lush, green leaves in summer, and a magnificent show of vibrant color in autumn. The Sugar Maple’s sap and seeds are prized by birds, so they are a great way to attract birds to your yard as well. Extremely long lived. And you can even use the Sugar Maple for delicious maple sugar! We currently have beautiful Red Pointe, Burgundy Belle, Fall Fiesta, and Sugar Maples.
Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum) are highly prized for their fall foliage. You can choose bright reds, oranges, yellows, or limes, and choose a dwarf, shrub, or tree variety. There is a large range of options with these plants, all of which are beautiful.
‘Seven Sons’ Heptocodium: This shrub features lovely white flowers in September. Petals drop from the bracts, that then turn a lovely raspberry color by October. Its foliage
becomes wonderful shades of lemon and lime, and the whole plant put on a great show through late fall. An absolute all-star as leaves fall.
Holly (Ilex aquifolium): Growing holly bushes in your yard can add structure and a splash of color in the winter and a lush, green backdrop for other flowers in the summer. Full sun and average soil needs, they have shiny dark foliage, and stunning red berries
late in the season. Prized by birds, and a traditional favorite.
Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata): This deciduous shrub is native to the eastern U.S., and produces bright red berries in the fall that persist through the winter and into spring. Not only do the berries add important color to winter landscapes, but they also lure in colorful birds for fun winter birding.
Gingko biloba are living fossils essentially. The order to which it belongs, Ginkgoales, first appeared in
the Permian period, 270 million years ago. The order now only contains this single genus and species, meaning this plant is literally one of a kind. It has gorgeous, quivering green leaves in spring and summer, and then amazes yet again in autumn by turning a bright lemony gold. A magnificent, singular plant that only gets better in autumn. Can be found in small and large tree form.
Small-leaved Rhododendrons: Beloved for their stunning spring flowers and ability to thrive in part-
shade conditions, Rhododendrons are cold hardy, easy-care plants that boast a surprisingly showy fall performance, taking on shades of red, orange, and umber. They can be enjoyed in multiple sizes and bloom colors, and are well-behaved, long-lived, and durable shrubs for any landscape, that provide ornamental interest spring through fall.
Oakleaf Hydrangea ((Hydrangea quercifolia): Named for the deeply lobed oak-like foliage, this multi-stemmed shrub grows 4-8 feet tall and wide with a compact rounded habit. Cone-shaped flower clusters appear from late spring to early summer, with single or multi-petaled white blooms that fade to shades of pink and mauve. In fall, the leathery green foliage turns vivid shades of purple, red and bronze. Cinnamon-brown peeling bark along the stems is revealed after the leaves drop off,
creating winter-long interest.
Deutzia: A low-growing shrub with bright green leaves on arching branches, that becomes a wonderful and very showy accent when covered by white or pink blooms in spring. Foliage can turn shades of lime and burgundy in fall. These shrubs are ornamental during the winter season too, with bark that peels back to reveal a reddish-orange color underneath.
Fothergilla are deciduous, Eastern U.S. natives that are truly spectacular, four-season shrubs. In early April the white, white bottle-brush blooms appear with their delightful, honey-like fragrance. Flowers typically last for 2-3 weeks, and then are replaced by beautiful, green to blue-green, quilt-like foliage. The fall brings the showiest display, taking on golden-yellows, bright oranges and intense reds. Weather conditions greatly influence the autumn coloration each year, with the amount of sunlight, rainfall and
temperatures all playing a role.
Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica) is a deciduous shrub, 6-12 ft. tall. Glossy, somewhat blue-green, and aromatic leaves turn orange, red, purple and yellow in the fall. Yellowish catkin-like flowers precede dark-red berries which persist into March.
Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica): An imposing, deciduous tree, Nyssa grows 30-60 ft. or taller, with
horizontally spreading branches. A handsome ornamental and Northeast native, its juicy fruit is consumed by many birds and mammals. It ignites with red and orange leaves in autumn and becomes a tower of breath-taking color.
Ornamental Grasses provide upright and graceful foliage that takes on beautiful shades of color in autumn. Many mature grasses will produce showy plumage in the fall as well. Even dormant and
dried grasses look great in the winter.
Asters provide charming clusters of small, daisy-like flowers in lovely rich colors throughout the autumn months, and can be found in varied sizes. Many varieties are native to New
England, and pair beautiful with pumpkins, gourds, and other fall favorites. Great for a perennial garden or used in a container.
Sedum (a.k.a. Stonecrop) are late-season heroes. These versatile perennials succulents produce green flower heads at a slow and steady through summer, which then blush more
intensely with color as temperatures decline. Colors can include blues, reds, yellows, and greens – even
variegated. You can find spreading, grounding-hugging, or even upright ones that take on a more shrubby appearance. Loved by pollinators too.
Perennial Mums: Full-sun, cold hardy perennial Mums form a thick cluster of daisy-like blooms late in the season. You can enjoy them in all kinds of fun colors and bloom styles, and they are great way to add a patch of colorful, cheerful blooms through autumn.
Japanese Anemone (Iris variegata): These long-blooming, late-season beauties are a must-have in your perennial gardens. Most popular is perhaps the award-winning ‘Honorine Jobert’ variety. It offers a multitude of pure white flowers on graceful, branching upright stems for five weeks or more, above a solid clump of dark green deeply cut leaves. Lovely massed in a woodland setting or spotted into wild rock gardens. An excellent cut flower. Naturalizes by spreading rhizomes in ideal conditions.
Montauk/Nippon Daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum) are very popular for providing daisy-like flowers throughout the autumn months. They are larger than your typical Shastas, forming an 18-36″ mound, so you only need one or two plunked in a well-chosen spot to make a nice visual impact.
Toad Lilies bring an exotic flair to the shade garden in Fall. When almost all other shade plants have finished blooming, these ornate plants are just getting started. The plants themselves have graceful arching habits along with often variegated or spotted foliage to accompany the spotted, Orchid-like blooms. They like part shade, and moist, rich soil. They grow about 1-2 feet high. And the pollinators love them – a very good pollen source for late season.