The lone voice of horticultural reason

Don’t forget about planting for autumn leaf color.

Hosta ‘Halcyon’ – I don’t know which I prefer, summer, when it’s blue, or fall when it’s—not.

Or put more sincerely, there’s more to taking advantage of fall color change than planting maples and oaks. I always give an extra nudge to using perennials and shrubs—in addition to trees—that reward the landscape with their ability to perform an autumn magic act.

Fothergilla major ‘Mount Airy’ – Fragrant, white, spike-like flowers in spring, dark green foliage in summer, and then fall, this!

Glancing around my humble half-acre, I note the following:

Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Boston Ivy) – Always reliable.

Sure, there are shrubs that add zilch to the equation in fall that are so stellar either in bloom (lilacs) or mid-season leaf (hydrangeas) that they are worthy of space, but don’t ignore the importance of fall leaf color when choosing shrubs, or perennials.

Additional Good Shrubs for Fall Color

Rhododendon ‘P.J.M.’ – True, four-season foliage.

Berberis (Barberry)
Diervilla (Bush Honeysuckle)
Aronia (Chokeberry)
Cornus (Dogwood, except Ivory Halo, which looks like hell by about August anyway)
Corylus (Hazelnut)
Cotinus (Smokebush)
Euonymus (Burning Bush)
Spiraea (Spirea – most varieties)
Rhus (Sumac)
Viburnum (most varieties)

(Royal Frost clump birch) – Dark burgundy leaves in spring and summer, strong yellow tones in fall.

Additional Good Perennials for Fall Color

Euphorbia polycroma (Cushion Spurge)
Aruncus aethusifolius (Dwarf Goat’s Beard)
Geranium (Cranesbill – some varieties)
Polygonatum (Soloman’s Seal)
Euonymus fortunei ‘Colorata’ (Wintercreeper)

Don Engebretson
The Renegade Gardener