Many gardeners prefer autumn to any other season. The heat and humidity of summer have passed, biting insects are gone, and the leaves of many plants paint the landscape with bold strokes of red, yellow, orange, and purple.
With a little planning, you can create a fall garden that will rival the bright new leaves and flowers of spring gardens.
To choose plants for a fall garden, visit a nursery with paper, pencil, and camera in hand. Take notes and snapshots and ask questions:
- Does the plant have colorful berries for winter interest?
- Will it attract birds?
- How will it look in other seasons?
When thinking about fall foliage, trees such as northern red oak (Quercus rubra) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum), with their mixed palettes of blazing color, come to mind. If you don't have room for these large trees that may grow more than 60 feet tall, there are many smaller ones that are just as vibrant. The ‘Autumn Brilliance' serviceberry (a cultivar of Amelanchier x grandiflora) grows only 20 feet tall and has flaming-red fall foliage. It also features white flowers in early spring and sweet, edible berries. The Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) grows 25 feet tall and sports reddish-purple autumn dress; the 12-foot ‘Sherwood Flame' Japanese maple (a cultivar of Acer palmatum) presents a dramatic scarlet fall display.
Shrubs are the bones of a fall garden, creating a colorful underplanting. The red-flowered sumac is a good shrub option (Rhus coriaria) The highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) also makes an attractive hedge, growing up to 12 feet high. In addition to its long-lasting, bright-red autumn leaves, you'll enjoy its white spring flowers tinged with pink and, of course, its delicious juicy berries.