I am lucky enough to live where we have four full and defined seasons. My favorites are spring and fall. The autumn leaves that change colors here are a splendor to behold. We have few trees out on the harvest land, but in town, almost everyone has a huge complement of trees to protect their property. Many of these are deciduous plants and put on quite a fall show. Huge graceful weeping willows, poplar trees with their silvery leaves, magnolias, statuesque oaks, and others are all common sights which slowly slide into fall color.
Changing Fall Leaves
New England is known for its fall color and quite a tourist and naturalist’s attraction in Autumn. I live on the complete other side of the United States, but even here we have our share of deciduous trees and shrubs. One of the finest examples of fall change is in the burning bush. These make excellent informal hedges and when planted en masse, create a brilliant hot pink display as temperatures begin to cool. Any of the maple variety are top competitors for blazing color. They display hues across the color wheel, combined with dancing samaras.
In my personal landscape we have a magnolia which doesn’t color up much as it drops its leaves. The barberry, however, has provided color since spring, and they slowly drop their red leaves to better reveal the crimson stems. The huge notched leaves of the hardy hibiscus don’t provide much color either, but do tinge slowly on the edges of the foliage. My towering elderberry is already a bronze leaved beauty and simply slides into fall with delicacy.
Surrounding us the neighbors have sumac. I actually hate it because it produces hundreds of baby plants that I must weed out of my garden and lawn. However, in fall, it is truly glorious, boasting hues of orange and red on the leaflets. Combined with the fuzzy berries in deep crimson, the effect is quite arresting and one of the most beautiful to happen to local autumn leaves. Other deciduous plants abound in town, making the drive to the bank or post office an outing of visual delight.
While I don’t personally have much fall leaf color in my landscape, there are plenty of deciduous plants. The mini orchard trees usually turn gold before they take their last bow and fall to the ground. The raspberries will also turn yellow until only canes remain. I have a few new plants this year; I do not know their fall habit. It will be fun to see what happens, who has persistent berries, or inflorescences.
It is always a sad time in fall, when new life isn’t bursting, but instead, everything is going to bed for 6 months or so. But the lively tree and bush displays help dispel the sadness and turn the mind to the pleasures of winter: fires, movies, holidays, snowball fights. There is something to be said for these enjoyments, and the sleepier time of the cold season. We will all wait patiently until those first crocuses or snow-in-winter peek up and tell us it is time to get out of hibernation and enjoy our gardens again.