The dog days of summer are now behind us, days are shorter, and temperatures much more comfortable. This time of year, the fall, is the most ideal for adding vegetation to your landscape. Plants are beginning to prepare for winter and going into a dormancy stage to conserve energy for the long, harsh cold. This reduced growth activity is precisely what allows their installation or transplantation with little or no stress to the plant itself. Also, now’s the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the array of vibrant colors the fall has to offer in making your selections. The following are my three fall favorites which capture both bold leaf and berry colors:
GRO-LOW FRAGRANT SUMAC:
Rhus aromatic ‘Gro-Low’ (Latin) is underutilized in the landscape primarily due to its name. Sumac is not at all poisonous, and the actual species, which is, has no relation. This fast-growing, low shrub gets about 2-3’ tall and 6-8’ wide. They have a great scarlet fall color and create a stunning effect when planted in large sweeping masses. Gro-Low, like most sumacs, will tolerate poor soil conditions and prefer full sun to part shade. The leaves, when brushed against, emit a lemon-like fragrance. It is also an excellent choice for attracting birds and wildlife.
Lindera Benzoin (Latin) grows 5-8’ in the landscape and prefers a location that offers part shade and moist soils. As fall sets in, the leaves turn buttery yellow, accompanied by crimson red berries. The yellow then turns papery tan toward the end of fall and persists on the branches throughout the winter. The berries attract wildlife and are quickly eaten due to their high-fat content in preparation for winter. In addition, the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly larvae feed on the leaves and use them for protection before their chrysalis stage.
COMMON WITCH HAZEL:
Hamamelis virginiana (Latin) is another North American Native found in woodlands throughout the northeast. A fall-blooming deciduous shrub with twisted, ribbon-like yellow petals emerging along the entire length of branches. The leaves also display a vibrant golden hue which really will brighten up an understory planting. Witch Hazel is a large growing shrub sometimes getting 15-20’ tall. It prefers full sun to part shade and moist, acidic soils high in organic matter. It’s most notably known for its medicinal properties as a natural anti-inflammatory and antiviral astringent.
Fall is an encore performance of color display and the final bow for a great year in the growth cycle of many plants. Introducing them to your property at this perfect time of year ensures their survivability to thrive and flourish for many seasons to come. Visit a local garden center nursery on a brisk weekend morning and stroll the rows to see the colors that pique your interest!