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September 15, 2012

Autumn hues can shine with correct tree, shrub choices

Vibrant purple. Brilliant ruby red. Blazing orange. Stunning yellow. 

While some “leaf-peepers” may travel for many miles to seek out the best fall color, we’re lucky in the local area that we don’t have to look very far to view the gem-like hues of autumn. But if you want to bring some of that vivid beauty even closer to home, here are some tips for planting trees and shrubs to make your yard come alive in the fall.

YELLOW/GOLDEN

Several shrubs offer glowing yellow foliage in fall. The gardening website Dave’s Garden offers a handy list of them here: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3040/#b. Here are a few highlights that will grow well in this region:

SHRUBS/SMALL TREES

Common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is native to the East Coast and tolerates a variety of conditions, including cold temperatures. The Sunset Northeast Gardening Book describes its appearance as “open, spreading, rather straggling,” which makes this shrub or small tree best suited for a naturalized landscape setting. You can look forward to clear, bright yellow fall color accompanied by small clusters of unusual flowers that resemble small mop heads.

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), another Northeast native, is a well-behaved deciduous shrub that’s at home in yards and more formal plantings. As the name suggests, the plant bears sweetly scented blossoms in summer that attract butterflies; in fall, its small oval leaves turn bright yellow. This plant may not knock your socks off, but it won’t give you a lot of trouble, either.

Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) has striking, large, spreading oval leaves in palm-like clusters that turn a buttery yellow in fall. This is an uncommon landscape plant in the local area that deserves consideration. It’s a lovely plant that can be grown as a shrub or small tree; it also produces towering, showy blossoms during the summertime. 

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