Paint Your Landscape With Fall Color!



We are blessed here in the Eastern United States with some of the greatest displays of fall color on the globe. Every year in October and November the forests burst forth with swaths of red, yellow, purple, orange, ochre & copper in rich and subtle shades backed by the varying greens of hemlock, fir and pine. Tourists flock from all over to catch the spectacular show in the mountains and foothills of our great state of North Carolina.  Why do leaves change from the bright green of spring and summer to the gorgeous fall palette we admire? The answer is in the science.

Garden Statue with Fall TreesChlorophyll, as we know, is what makes leaves green. It absorbs sunlight powering photosynthesis, the chemical process that turns water and carbon dioxide into sugar. As the days get shorter, deciduous trees quit producing chlorophyll and store this sugar in the twigs and branches. (This is one reason deer find your trees and shrubs so delicious in winter.) As the green of chlorophyll fades away, other pigments present themselves in the leaves. Carotenoids give you the colors of orange and red, tannins give you brown. Anthocyanins are produced to give you pinks and purples. Every species of tree has a signature mix of chemicals, giving each fall tree its own unique color. North Carolina is blessed with a great range of species, both native and introduced, that provide a wide array of colors in Autumn.

Fall Landscaping resizedFor those of us who haven’t the time or inclination to travel to the mountains, the scene from our own windows can, with a bit of planning, be just as marvelous. Many trees and shrubs at the garden center provide a wide range of color over the fall season. Once you step beyond the bright scarlet of the red maple and the Bradford pear the possibilities are abundant.

Fall Trees and Shrubs resizedJapanese maples and crapemyrtles are the two groups of fall trees that can give you the greatest range of color.  There are hundreds of cultivars in every size and color imaginable.  The gingko gives the clearest yellow of all trees. For folks who don’t have room for a full size specimen, there are several dwarf cultivars available. The much maligned sweet gum does turn beautiful colors in the fall. The columnar cultivar Slender Silhouette burns like a torch. Black gum, another native, is an incredible brilliant red. The weeping form and the contorted Zydeco Twist do not get quite so large and can find a home in a smaller yard. The native sassafras is also a small tree and flaunts an impressive range of colors. Most of the ornamental fruit trees have unexceptional fall color, but the Kwanzan cherry turns a warm gold and the purple leaf plum sports a good red.

Be an artist. Paint your own fall scene just outside your window. Plant a few trees. Tuck in some colorful shrubs, and don’t forget ornamental grasses and fall flowers.  Then, enjoy the view from a comfortable chair.

What colors are you adding to your landscape this season?

RED

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) Tree Red, orange, yellow, or purple
Red Maple (Acer rubrum) Tree Green-yellow, yellow and red
Dogwood (Cornus florida and Cornus kousa) Tree Purplish-red to scarlet
Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) Tree Yellow, purple or red
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) Tree Yellow, orange or scarlet
Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica) Tree Bright red
Purple Leaf Plum (Prunus cerasifera) Tree Red
Trident Maple (Acer buergeranum) Tree Red to orange
Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia sp.) Tree Red, orange, yellow
Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora) Tree Red
Chinese pistachio (pistachia chinensis) Tree Orange and Crimson
Sourwood (oxydendrum arboretum) Tree Crimson, Purple, Yellow
Abelia grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ Shrub Red and orange
Blueberries (Vaccinium sp.) Shrub Red, orange and gold
Oak Leaf Hydrangea Shrub Deep purple/red
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Twist and Shout’ Shrub Deep red/purple
Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenia) Shrub Yellow, orange, red and pink/red
Sweetspire (Itea virginica) Shrub Garnet red
Deciduous Viburnums Shrub Red, orange and yellow
Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) Shrub Purple, red, orange and gold
Fall Blooming Camellia (Camellia sasanqua) Shrub White, pink or red flowers
Encore Azaleas (sun) Shrub White, pink, red or purple, lavender flowers
Bloom-a-thon Azalea (shade) Shrub White, pink, red or purple flowers
Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) Shrub Yellow leaves, red berries
Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) Perennial Red Foliage
Mukdenia (Mukdenia rossii) Perennial Red
Pinapple Sage (Salvia elegans) Perennial Red Flowers
Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) Perennial White, Red and Pink Flowers
Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Ruby Ribbons’) Grass Red Foliage
Pennisetum Grass Tan, Red & Purple/Pink Blooms
Pansies Annual Various Flower Colors
Snap Dragons Annual Various Flower Colors
Mums Annual Various Flower Colors

ORANGE

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) Tree Red, orange, yellow, or purple
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) Tree Orange-yellow
Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) Tree Apricot-orange
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) Tree Yellow, orange or scarlet
Trident Maple (Acer buergeranum) Tree Red to orange
Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia sp.) Tree Red, orange, yellow
Chinese pistachio (pistachia chinensis) Tree Orange and Crimson
Abelia grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ Shrub Red and orange
Abelia grandiflora ‘Rose Creek’ Shrub Burnt orange calyxes
Blueberries (Vaccinium sp.) Shrub Red, orange and gold
Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenia) Shrub Yellow, orange, red and pink/red
Deciduous Viburnums Shrub Red, orange and yellow
Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’ Shrub Orange
Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) Shrub Purple, red, orange and gold
Coral Bells (Heuchera x hybridus) Perennial Various Foliage Colors
Pansies Annual Various Flower Colors
Snap Dragons Annual Various Flower Colors
Crotons Annual Yellows, Oranges & Green Foliage
Mums Annual Various Flower Colors

YELLOW

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) Tree Red, orange, yellow, or purple
Red Maple (Acer rubrum) Tree Green-yellow, yellow and red
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) Tree Orange-yellow
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) Tree Yellow
Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) Tree Yellow, purple or red
Kwanzan Cherry (Prunus serrulata) Tree Gold
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) Tree Yellow, orange or scarlet
Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) Tree Lime yellow fading to tan
Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia sp.) Tree Red, orange, yellow
English Oak (Quercus x ‘Regal Prince’) Tree Warm yellow brown
Sourwood (oxydendrum arboretum) Tree Crimson, Purple, Yellow
Blueberries (Vaccinium sp.) Shrub Red, orange and gold
Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris) Shrub Gold
Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenia) Shrub Yellow, orange, red and pink/red
Summer Sweet (Clethra alnifolia) Shrub Yellow
Deciduous Viburnums Shrub Red, orange and yellow
Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) Shrub Purple, red, orange and gold
Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) Shrub Yellow leaves, red berries
Texas Blue Star (Amsonia sp.) Perennial Yellow Foliage
Coral Bells (Heuchera x hybridus) Perennial Various Foliage Colors
Euphorbia (Euphorbia x hybridus) Perennial Various Foliage Colors
Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) Perennial Yellow Flowers
Sneezeweed (Helenium sp.) Perennial Yellow Flowers
Hardy Ginger Lily (Hedychium coronarium) Perennial White, Yellow and Orange Flowers
Montauk Daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum) Perennial White Flowers Yellow Centers
Pansies Annual Various Flower Colors
Snap Dragons Annual Various Flower Colors
Crotons Annual Yellows, Oranges & Green Foliage
Mums Annual Various Flower Colors

PURPLE

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) Tree Red, orange, yellow, or purple
Dogwood (Cornus florida and Cornus kousa) Tree Purplish-red to scarlet
Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) Tree Yellow, purple or red
Sourwood (oxydendrum arboretum) Tree Crimson, Purple, Yellow
Oak Leaf Hydrangea Shrub Deep purple/red
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Twist and Shout’ Shrub Deep red/purple
Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) Shrub Purple, red, orange and gold
Encore Azaleas (sun) Shrub White, pink, red or purple, lavender flowers
Bloom-a-thon Azaleas (shade) Shrub White, pink, red or purple flowers
Coral Bells (Heuchera x hybridus) Perennial Various Foliage Colors
Euphorbia (Euphorbia x hybridus) Perennial Various Foliage Colors
Bugle weed (Ajuga reptans) Perennial Dark purple, Pink and Purple Foliage
Sedum Perennial Blue-greens, Purples, Pinks & White Foliage
Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) Perennial Dusky Purple Flowers
Ironweed (Veronia sp.) Perennial Dark Purple Flowers
Pennisetum Grass Tan, Red & Purple/Pink Blooms
Pansies Annual Various Flower Colors
Lettuces, Cabbages, Kales and Mustards Annual Green, White & Purples Foliage
Ornamental peppers Annual Green & Purple Foliage
Stock Annual Lilac, White & Mauve Flowers
Mums Annual Various Flower Colors

PINK

Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenia) Shrub Yellow, orange, red and pink/red
Fall Blooming Camellia (Camellia sasanqua) Shrub White, pink or red flowers
Encore Azaleas (sun) Shrub White, pink, red or purple, lavender flowers
Bloom-a-thon Azaleas (shade) Shrub White, pink, red or purple flowers
Abelias (Abelia grandiflora) Shrub White or Pink Flowers
Coral Bells (Heuchera x hybridus) Perennial Various Foliage Colors
Euphorbia (Euphorbia x hybridus) Perennial Various Foliage Colors
Bugle weed (Ajuga reptans) Perennial Dark purple, Pink and Purple Foliage
Sedum Perennial Blue-greens, Purples, Pinks & White Foliage & Pink Flowers
Aster (Aster sp.) Perennial Pink, Blue, Purple & White Flowers
Japanese Anemone (Anemone x hybrida) Perennial Pink & White Flowers
     
Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) Perennial White, Red and Pink Flowers
Mulhy Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) Grass Pink & White Blooms
Pennisetum Grass Tan, Red & Purple/Pink Blooms
Pansies Annual Various Flower Colors
Snap Dragons Annual Various Flower Colors
Stock Annual Lilac, White & Mauve Flowers
Mums Annual Various Flower Colors