By Natalie Carmolli, Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
It’s that time, the season when our thoughts turn to the things that make our lives, and the lives around us, better. When enjoying the landscape, it’s easy to identify those that provide summer splendor, but plants that work hard through fall will also inspire you to be thankful for your outdoor surroundings. Here are six shrubs that will create a landscape you can be grateful for deep into the fall season.
Native oakleaf hydrangea or Hydrangea quercifolia is a perfect example of a shrub that brings summer beauty with its gorgeous panicle blooms, but they also provide interest well into the fall with russet-colored foliage. The Gatsby series of oakleaf hydrangeas provide beautiful fall foliage color and they are the perfect candidates for hedges, screens, and natural woodland garden scenarios. Hardy and heat tolerant in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5-9, this series ranges from the smaller habit of Gatsby Gal® at just 5-6’ tall/wide to the larger varieties like Gatsby Moon® that top out at 6-8’.
Beautyberry (known botanically as Callicarpa) always lives up to its name in late summer/early autumn, when its elegant, arching branches are covered with a huge crop of the most unbelievably purple berries. However, most beautyberries are less than thrilling up until that point. Pearl Glam® beautyberry* changes that, thanks to elegant dark purple foliage from spring through frost. It also boasts a neat, upright habit (4-5’ tall/2-3’ wide) that takes up far less valuable garden real estate than the old sprawling varieties. Pearl Glam beautyberry does not need a separate variety to pollinate it – it is self-fruitful and will develop a showy crop of purple fruits even if you plant just one. Hardy/heat tolerant in zones 5-8.
Since we’re focusing on berries, another beautiful berry-producing shrub is coral berry, or Symphoricarpos. Proud Berry® native coral berry* features a very heavy fruit set and an attractive compact habit at just 3-4’ tall and wide. Bright pink berries cover the plant in late summer and fall; a pollinator is not needed. Great for mass plantings in gardens and parks or adding unexpected fall color to mixed borders. It’s also super hardy, down to zone 3.
Bottlebrush or Fothergilla has long been appreciated for its spectacular autumn color. Legend of the Fall® bottlebrush doesn’t disappoint, with brilliant, glowing hues of orange, yellow, and red. A tidy habit makes this plant easy to work into your landscape or garden. Plant in sun, shade, or anywhere in between, but fall color will be most vivid in spots that get at least some sun each day. Legend of the Fall is hardy in zones 5-9 and will grow to 4-5’ tall and wide. If you’re looking for the same autumnal wow in a smaller package, Legend of the Small™ only reaches 2-2.5’ tall and 2-3’ wide.
Viburnum is an excellent choice for adding fall interest to landscapes, and native Brandywine™ viburnum puts on a fabulous berry display each autumn. Fruit* transforms from green to pink and blue. The glossy foliage is quite handsome, too, and turns maroon-red in fall. This selection sets fruit without a pollinator and will grow to 5-6’ tall and wide. Hardy/heat-tolerant in zones 5-9.
And finally, for a truly impressive specimen shrub that offers four seasons of beauty, plant Temple of Bloom® seven-son flower (Heptacodium). Temple of Bloom® was years in development and improves on conventional varieties with a more compact habit (6-10’) and an earlier bloom, which means that its cherry-red bracts show up sooner for a memorable fall display. Handsome, high-quality foliage and attractive peeling bark make this truly a plant for all seasons. Hardy in zones 5-9.
Plant any of these six selections and they are sure to bring to mind the season of Thanksgiving with a banquet of interesting textures and rich, fall colors.
*The fruit on Pearl Glam® beautyberry, Proud Berry® coral berry, and Brandywine™ viburnum is not edible.
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