In recent posts I have described flowers that we can enjoy at this season, but the article quoted below concentrates on foliage rather than blooms. Fall is famous for its brightly colored leaves and the plants described below exhibit this in their full glory. The eight plants are described by Dan Hinkley in an article which I found on the Garden Design Magazine website.
Of all the seasons, autumn has always been my favorite. It is a time of gathering. Squashes and pumpkins are stacked in our larder, bundles of garlic and onions hang to dry, and, in our maritime climate, expanses of green tomatoes await the ripening process a top yesterday?s news stories. Before their journeys south, birds fatten from seeds and fruits offered from a landscape in decrescendo.
The coloring of autumn leaves has always seemed a fascinating truncated replay of the prior months of sun or lack thereof. More rays and warmth equals more ample sugars, flavonoids, and carotenoids in foliage. And as the masking green chloroplasts disintegrate, these other pigments are revealed. Some plants are more consistent in this reward than others.
Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Heronswood Globe’ (katsura tree). Photo by: Richard Bloom.
For moderate to large gardens in evenly moist soils, Cercidiphyllum japonicum (katsura tree), slays any competition in regard to autumn effect. Its oval foliage of green-suffused rose throughout the summer transmutes to coral and yellow-orange in mid-autumn?earlier if the year is particularly dry. It is not color alone that is brought forth by its annual turn of foliage, but a tantalizing scent some describe as cinnamon, others as cotton candy. I suggest the more caloric cr?me caramel. A globular, more compact cultivar, ?Heronswood Globe?, is a good choice for the smaller garden.
Unparalleled for its offering of ornament throughout the year, Clethra barbinervis (Japanese summersweet) remains, in my opinion, one of the most satisfying shrubby deciduous trees that can be grown. Adaptive to most of North America, its mottled bark in winter rivals that of the finest Stewartia. Dark green, boldly textured foliage in summer is a good foil for its racemes of highly spiced white flowers in July and August. In autumn, even in shade, the leaves turn to glowing tints of orange-red before falling.
Though lacking the effects of mottled bark, Lindera obtusiloba and Lindera triloba (spicebush)?both from eastern Asia?offer distinctive textural qualities and impressive autumn dress. The former, with three-lobed leaves similar to the American sassafras, and a late-winter haze of yellow flowers akin to Cornus mas (cornelian cherry), this 15-foot small tree becomes radiant in tones of clear yellow in October. The latter, Lindera triloba, is smaller in all regards, also with three-fingered leaves but coloring in autumn to tones of tangerine and melon.
Vitis vinifera ?Purpurea? (purpleleaf grape). Photo by: Marianne Majerus.
Hardy deciduous vines with excellent autumn notes are far from common, outside of the inarguably brilliant fall performance of Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy). Several cultivars of Vitis (grape), grown on a small arbor or fence do double duty, providing fruit for the table or glass and a visual feast of claret purple long into autumn. Vitis vinifera ?Purpurea? is especially good, possessing a purple cast throughout summer and sensational autumn tints of scarlet, though its fruit is notoriously unpalatable.
See more at Garden Design Magazine
Feature photo: Rob Cardillo.