Campbell Vaughn: Fall color can be found at home

Most people think about having color in their yard in the spring and summer, but it's also easy to attain during football season. You don't have to drive to the mountains to get good fall color; just find the right plants.

 

Blend some plants into your landscape that will really make fall shine. Some of the trees that are famous for their bright colors this time of year, which will do well in certain design circumstances, are sugar maple, ginkgo, redbud, poplar, crape myrtle, sourwood and Japanese maple.

Sweetgum is a tree most folks want to remove, but it is fantastic for its orange and yellow leaves. Before you remove one, take the time to enjoy what it offers. Remember that the colors of the leaves, berries, or flowers aren't the only color that a plant offers. The bark can offer color contrast as well. A sycamore tree can be seen far into the woods and gleams when all the leaves have fallen. The bright white bark looks as though it has just snowed on that tree in the woods.

Young river birch has awesome exfoliating bark that looks like sheets of pinkish to reddish brown paper. Certain varieties of crape myrtles also have an exfoliating bark that has an amazing rusty red color to liven up the drab landscape.

Numerous shrubs can add to the understory of a yard, like what fall leaves do to a forest. Fothergilla is the sugar maple for fall color leaves on deciduous shrubs. Clethra burst with yellow when the leaf is getting ready to drop. Virginia sweetspire has a dark red leaf that last on the stem for a long time once it starts turning. Blueberry (Vaccinium) and oakleaf hydrangea also carry a deep red leaf when changing color. In the same instance as the trees, the aforementioned oakleaf hydrangea is a great one for the fall landscape. It not only has that fall color leaf burst, but the exfoliating bark is a unique feature for the bland times the colder weather brings us.

Fall can also bring some vibrant flowers.

Goldenrod (Solidago) has a wispy form with a panicle type yellow flower. Wild ageratum is a native flower that can take over some areas, but has a beautiful soft purple low-growing flower. Heliopsis, or false sunflower, is in the daisy family and will explode a mass of yellow that will have people stopping to view your yard. Joe pye weed (Eupatorium) is another native perennial found on stream banks can get tall and show its large headed purple flower in October. Don't forget about the ubiquitous chrysanthemum, which has been hybridized to have almost any color to match any circumstance.

Berries and grasses can also be utilized. Hollies, pyracantha, cotoneaster and nandina are our red berry favorites, while beautyberry has a lavender purple berry all along the stem. As for grasses, you can see pink muhley grass exploding pink blooms all over town.

Remember, spring and summer aren't the only times for showy landscapes. Fall is a great time to show some flare as well.

 

Reach Campbell Vaughn, the agriculture and natural resources cooperative extension agent for Richmond County, by e-mailing augusta@uga.edu.

 

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