For the past several years, Dave at The Home Garden has hosted The Fall Color Project, giving bloggers an opportunity to share links to their posts on peak fall colors in their area. This year, I didn’t even have to leave Hayefield to find lots of showy autumn leaves.
Maples (Acer) are generally dependable for great fall color, and the few I have here are looking rather nice.
I wish I knew which Japanese maple (A. palmatum) this is. It comes out deep purple-red in spring, turns greenish red in summer, and then goes orange in fall. A garden visitor suggested that it might be ‘Kamagata’, but I don’t know the cultivars well enough to tell for sure. The one below, at least, had a label when I bought it: Oliver maple (A. oliverianum).
A couple more unlabeled woodies from that same long-ago nursery-closing sale: above is some sort of doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum), and below is – I think – shining sumac (Rhus copallina).
This one (above and below) I know for sure: cut-leaved staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina ‘Laciniata’).
Above is ‘Grace’ smokebush (Cotinus). It’s not yet in brilliant red fall color, though; this is the normal color of its new growth. The orangey red parts are the shoots that pushed new growth when the rain started again in mid-August.
The ‘Little Honey’ oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) below started as a tiny rooted cutting about 6 years ago. It’s barely 2 feet tall now, but at least it’s still alive. Even little, it’s stunning in fall.
Above, ‘Sunshine’ red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea subsp. occidentalis); below, buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).
Above, Chinese mahogany (Cedrela sinensis, a.k.a. Toona sinensis); below, hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta).
Beautyberries (Callicarpa) are best known for their brilliant purple fall berries, but their autumn color can be terrific too. Above is ‘Issai’ beautyberry (C. dichotoma); below is ‘Spring Gold’ (also C. dichotoma).
Crown Jewel Chinese dogwood (Cornus kousa ‘Madison’) is a plant I coveted for several years for its excellent fall color, and now I have one of my very own (acquired from Rare Find Nursery). It was worth waiting for.
Southern bush honeysuckle (Diervilla sessilifolia), below, is generally in the red range of fall color, but it can take on shades of orange and yellow too.
Above, ‘Gingerbread’ witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia). Below, ‘Henry’s Garnet’ Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica).
Above, Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and three-flowered maple (Acer triflorum) with an underplanting of Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii).
Speaking of Arkansas bluestar…there are also lots of perennials that offer interesting leaf color changes in fall, but for some reason, they don’t get anywhere near the attention that trees and shrubs get. The bluestars shown above are just starting to turn, but in sunnier parts of the garden, many clumps of the same species are at peak color right now.
Above, ‘Raspberry Wine’ bee balm (Monarda); below, blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis) just starting to turn yellow.
Above, American ipecac (Gillenia stipulata); below, scarlet rose mallow (Hibiscus coccineus).
Above, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) out in the meadow; below, ‘Kobold’ spike gayfeather (Liatris spicata).
Above, white Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Alba’). And below, the continuing star of the fall garden: golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia). Cut back after its first blooms darkened, it’s in bloom again as well as in fall color.
Above, shredded umbrella plant (Syneilesis aconitifolia); below, foxglove penstemon (Penstemon digitalis).
And a couple of fall pretties all together: ‘Gerald Darby’ iris (Iris x robusta), ‘Red Splash Select’ polka-dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachys), a baby ‘Sun Power’ hosta, and Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’).
That rich red makes blood grass one of the showiest fall grasses color-wise, but many others are great in their own ways. Out in the lower meadow, clumps of Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) are finally seeding in from the field across the street.
In the upper meadow, little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is coloring up, and so is big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii).
Frost grass (Spodiopogon sibiricus), above, is often described as having reddish to purplish fall color, but here, it usually turns golden yellow before quickly browning.
Below is frost grass again, with ‘Cassian’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) just starting to color up in the foreground.
The ‘Cassian’ clumps shown above, growing in a nearby bed, haven’t even started to turn. The ‘Morning Light’ miscanthus still looks fresh too. Flame grass (Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’), though, is just about at its peak.
‘Skyracer’ purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea), above, is looking quite nice, as is the ‘Cloud Nine’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum), below, growing a few feet away.
Two more switch grasses, for good measure: above, ‘Huron Solstice’, and below, ‘Northwind’, behind more ‘Cassian’ fountain grass.
And to finish, ‘The Blues’ little bluestem, which has a wonderful way of looking coppery pink on dull days (above) and orangey red in bright sunshine.
To see how fall is progressing in gardens elsewhere, check out the posts at The Fall Color Project 2011.