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GardenSMART :: Beyond Blooms

Beyond Blooms

By Kate Karam for Monrovia
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia

After summer’s flowers fade and autumn’s foliage falls, what’s left? Well, if you think ahead and plan for the shoulder season of late fall to early spring, plenty of sexy structure that keeps the garden interesting during the downtimes. 

Fall is the perfect time for planting shrubs! None of these “I want it” plants below are difficult to grow, get too large, or only look great in the winter. You’ll enjoy them year-round with a secret little smile knowing that come winter, the best is yet to come. Here are four of our favorites for multi-season appeal.

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Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’)
With its Dr. Seuss-like gnarled and twisted branches, terrific fall foliage color, and showy greenish-yellow catkins in winter, this will be the one they talk about. Grown on its own root, will not produce suckers common from the understock of grafted plants. Full sun. Slow growing up to 15 ft. tall and wide. Zone: 3 – 9
Use: Does well in large containers. Excellent specimen tree. Use shoots in floral arrangements.

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Red Twig dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’)
Creamy white flowers bloom in late spring, followed by white berries which ripen in mid-summer. Leaves turn reddish purple in fall, but it’s the red stems in winter that are its calling card. Partial to full sun. Reaches up to 9 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide. Zone: 2 – 8
Use: Mass in an open space where red branches can be appreciated.

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Golden Duchess® Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘MonKinn’ P.P. #25,503)
Colorful conifers are an emerging category that’s surging (get in early!). Case in point is this jewel-a superb new dwarf that nearly glows with golden yellow foliage on graceful, arching branches. Full shade to partial sun. Reaches up to 4 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide. Zone 4 – 7
Use: Plant in mass in a woodland or rock gardens for a truly dramatic effect or use a single specimen in a container.

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Coral Bark Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sangokaku’)
Few four-season plants can compare with this beauty. From the red-margined summer leaves and golden fall foliage to those amazing fiery red branches, it’s an attention grabber any time of year. Partial to full sun. Reaches up to 20 ft. tall and wide. Zone: 5 – 8
Use: Ideal small space tree in bright dappled shade or sun in cool areas. Can be planted in a large container to limit size.

Two More to Consider:

Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)
You’ll love the smaller size, open habit, soft-green leaves, and scarlet fall foliage, but you’ll grow it for the papery sheets of bark that peel to reveal cinnamon-brown new bark. Full shade to partial sun. Slow, up to 25 ft. high and 20 ft. wide. Zone: 5 – 8
Use: Plant where you can enjoy the beautiful bark. Excellent front yard accent or woodland under-story accent.

Icee Blue® Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Monber’ P.P. #9,639)
Looks great year round, but in winter, silver-blue foliage really shines (in coldest climates, turns plum-purple!) Dense crown creates a solid cover in a short time. Full sun. Up to 8 ft. wide. Zone: 3 – 9
Use: Use on slopes for erosion control, let tumble over retaining walls, nestle against boulders, or add to mixed borders.

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