The cooler weather encourages healthy root growth and contributes to a more robust plant the following year
Fall is here. You might think it is the end of the gardening season, but don’t be so quick to give up. Fall is the best time of year for planting perennials, shrubs and trees. The cooler weather
encourages healthy root growth and contributes to a more robust plant the following year.
Fall also brings new opportunities for garden color. Coming from the Valley 20 years ago, I went through winter color shock. It can be pretty bland here, with so much sage and juniper. So, I endeavored to plant color around the yard, first adding some Aspen and Maple trees. Since then, I’ve learned of more varieties of shrubs and groundcovers that provide interest in the garden.The sources of color range from blooms, leaves, stems and berries. All the shrubs included below are hardy for our climate. And some are even deer resistant.
Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is a remarkable little groundcover. Up to 10 inches tall and 24 inches wide, it grows in part and full sun. Once established, it has low water requirements and can handle most soils, including clay. Summer foliage is of dark green leaves with a profuse display of true-blue flowers followed by striking burgundy-red fall foliage. It is hardy at zone 5 to 9 and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds while being deer resistant. (Note the botanical name to ensure you get a variety that is hardy).
Bluebeard (Caryopteris species) is a low mounding deciduous shrub with blue flower clusters. There are several varieties of leaf color, some with yellow tones. (Yellow leaves often get sunburned in our full sun.) True green foliage does best here. Bluebeard is late to leaf out, and blooms late August to October, when other flowers are finished. They average 2-3 feet tall and wide and are hardy at zone 5 — 9. Top growth can experience winter die-back, but will come back from the roots. They have a pleasant scent, and the bees love it.
Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is a woody shrub that can be grown in partial shade or full sun which has become popular with landscapers because of its bright neon-red fall leaf color. It is easy to maintain, but has become invasive on the east coast of the US because the birds enjoy its seeds and spread them. This is less of a problem for Central Oregon. A native substitute is the Euonymus atropurpureus, which shares similar foliage.
Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) is native to the Northwest. A broadleaf, deciduous small tree or large shrub, it grows 10 to 20 feet tall. Multi-stemmed, shrubby, spreading, and vine-like in the forest shade, it becomes bushier in full sun. It develops beautiful red, orange and yellow fall colors, and is hardy to zone 4.
Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a large, multi-stemmed native deciduous shrub growing up to 6 by 9 feet. With green leaves and white flower clusters in spring, the noteworthy characteristic is the showy red bark of winter. The leaves turn reddish purple in fall. Although it is considered tolerant of deer, I’ve found it to be a favorite of my local herd, regularly feeding on them to the extent that they are now dwarves. The most vivid colors are found on new wood, so pruning of oldest stems to the base will provide the best color in winter. (Never remove more than one-third of the stems each year.) Hardy in zones 3-7.
Yellow Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a cultivar of the Red Twig Dogwood. It shares the same characteristics with the exception that the stems are greenish yellow. Both dogwoods can handle full sun or part shade, and prefer organically rich, semi-moist soils. The flower clusters give way to white berries in summer. They reproduce both by seed and from ground level suckers. Hardy to zone 3.
Midwinter Fire Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) is also a cultivar of the Red Twig. Winter stems are bright orange yellow at the base changing to red at the tips. After seeing a garden show display, I planted six of each of the above three dogwoods across the far side of my lawn in a ‘rainbow’ hedge row with red twig on the left, midwinter in the center, and yellow twig on the right. Hardy to zone 4.
Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillate) The fruit of this shrub provides an eye-catching landscape feature during winter. When pollinated, they put out a bounty of red fall and winter berries that persist through most of the winter. As a deciduous shrub, the green leaves drop in late fall, leaving the berries and stems to shine. Mulch or compost is needed to thrive, and they can reach 6 feet by 10 feet., are hardy to Zone 3 — 9.
Coralberry aka Pink Snowberry (Symphoricarpos species) is a hardy (zone 3 — 7) deciduous shrub. This variety of snowberry is native to the northern US. The leaves are bluish green. Bell shaped flowers come in late summer and begin to ripen into pink colored clusters in fall, with the colors intensifying in colder weather. This shrub matures to approximately 4 by 4 feet . It is deer resistant, and the birds enjoy the fruit throughout the winter. Root suckers and runners should be removed to eliminate spread.
Beautyberry (Callicarpa) is a 4 foot by 5 foot shrub with summer blossoms of white that turn to bright purple fall berries backed by deep greenish purple foliage. It is truly a beauty. It is a stand-out individually, but makes a most handsome mass planting, hedge or border. Hardy to only zone 5, this plant enjoys sunshine and well-drained soil.
This is not a complete list by any means. These are just a few of the ones I have personal experience with, or which have been successful in the gardens of my friends. An added benefit for those of you who like to make your own Christmas wreaths are the ones with berries. I often include a few stems for wreath color.
When shopping at a local garden center, always be sure to read the tag description. Take note of the mature plant size and provide sufficient space for future growth when you plant it in your garden. Landscapers and experienced gardeners alike commonly make the mistake of placing our new plants too closely together.
Coming next month — garden tasks for fall clean up in the garden.
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