From Golden Yellow to Fiery Red

large witch alder

The right plants to turn your autumnal garden into a true symphony of color.

Sweetgum has particularly intense fall color. They have leaves reminiscent of maple that are a dark, glossy green in the summertime, turning yellow-orange, burgundy, or deep purple towards fall. This colorful show lasts for several weeds. Ginkgo is another that becomes a real looker in autumn, with fresh green leaves that turn golden yellow. 

One less well known tree is the large witch alder. In May, it’s adorned with creamy white spikes and a fragrance like honey. Another distinctive trait are its nearly round leaves. It’s these that make the tree a real jewel in fall, when they’re painted in tones of golden yellow, luminous orange, and fiery red. Since it grows compactly and only about 6 feet tall, it’s especially good for small gardens.

The Japanese flowering dogwood will lend a yard far-Eastern flair. All it needs to thrive is a sunny, sheltered spot. In May and June its small flower clusters appear, framed by decorative white brachts. It has subtly crimped leaves that turn yellow and red in the fall. 

An Indian Summer theme can also work well for the perennial bed, with a skillful selection of plants. Yellow spurge is one that grows just under 18“ in sunny, warm locations and comes into its own during the final months of the year, when its narrow, dark green foliage colors flaming red.

Another pretty choice is a decorative grass – copper switchgrass is one with slim, elegantly curved or sweeping stems that grow about 2 feet tall and turn color starting in August, ultimately becoming copper red. In late summer they also produce loose panicles of delicate flowers that are great for evocative fall arrangements.

There are a few climbing plants that are really eye-catching in late summer and fall, such as wild grape, dressed up in luminous red. Climbing plants also offer the great advantage of lending a garden big effect for little bed space. Try climbing hortensia, whose leaves will turn a deep golden yellow against the backdrop of a pergola, garden shed, or mature tree trunks.

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