Documents: Latest From: Larry Hodgson:

Fall isn't Just for Pumpkins, Mums, and Cornstalks
by Proven Winners
August 30, 2009

Many wonderful flowering shrubs are often forgotten because they tend to bloom in the fall when many people aren’t thinking about gardening. Homeowners have been told that shrubs should be planted in the spring, but fall is actually a wonderful time of year to garden as well. The weather is cool and watering is not a daily chore. We often forget about shrubs because garden centers have closed down for the year and gardening is limited to pumpkins, mums and cornstalks. I can say this because I fall victim to the same décor. Let’s break out of that paradigm and look at some wonderful varieties that can make our gardens glow and look beautiful ‘til the first snowflake dances from the sky.

Let’s start with Hydrangea paniculata. This species of Hydrangea is wonderful for those living in colder climates. Many are hardy to zone 3. They are also perfect for the beginning gardeners because they bloom on new growth. So there is no indecisiveness about when the plant needs to be pruned. There are several different varieties that stand out in the group of Proven Winners ColorChoice introductions. Those varieties include:

‘Limelight’ – beautiful chartreuse blooms that emerge in late summer. Provide a lovely spectrum of whites, pinks and mauves into late fall. Reaching a height of 6 to 8 feet, Limelight can always be pruned to whatever size is required and is wonderful for fresh or cut flowers.

Quick Fire™ - blooms a month earlier than any other paniculata and has glorious red fall color. I have been told by many horticulturists that this flower is possibly the deepest pinkish-red of any paniculata variety.

The Swan™ - beautiful abundant flowers that reach 2 to 3 inches in size and fit nicely in the palm of your hand. Not as sturdy in structure as other varieties, but branches have a cascading nature.

These varieties are near and dear to my heart. I have 6 ‘Limelight’ Hydrangeas as a hedge planted in my own yard.

Fall color is often derived from spectacular foliage color. Not only do trees have beautiful fall colors of yellow, orange and red, but shrubs also display this kaleidoscope of colors.

Little Henry® Itea – is a dwarf Sweetspire that has incredible appeal from spring to fall. With beautiful white cascading blooms to leaves that turn fire red in the fall, who could pass up this beauty? It only reaches 24 to 36 inches tall and performs well in full sun to full shade.

The secret to having a garden that pops with pizzazz through out the seasons is to look for plants that have different colored foliage. Shrubs today range in foliage colors from black to burgundy, golden to copper with a wealth of variegated types also available, this means it doesn’t have to be fall to have impressive foliage. Some of the recent introductions through Proven Winners ColorChoice have been stellar performers when it comes to season long foliage color. Those varieties include:

Black Lace™ Sambucus – introduced at retail in 2006. The leaves of this shrub are blackish purple and are cut-leaf like that of the Japanese maples planted in so many yards across America, but Black Lace will cost you a fraction of the price. Very hardy, to zone 4, and reaching 6 to 8 feet in height, Black Lace can be pruned back if desired.

My Monet™ Weigela – is new for retail in the spring of 2007 and is sure to create a mad rush to the garden center. My Monet only reaches 12 to 18 inches in height. It has incredible green and white variegation with new growth highlighted in pink when planted in a partly sunny location. Blooms of beautiful pink, tubular flowers grace the plant in early summer and hummingbirds flock to get their share of the nectar.

Now we can’t forget about the plants that have beautiful berries in the fall like the Winterberry (Ilex verticillata). Both Berry Nice® and Berry Heavy® bear brilliant red berries starting in fall and persisting into winter. The berries will entice birds to come and feed, such as the bluebirds that exploded in shards of bright blue from my bushes in mid-winter last year.

The Viburnums in ColorChoice were also chosen for their berry set. Cardinal Candy™ bears a profusion of lacy white flowers in spring which then become large masses of cherry colored berries. Blue Muffin® also bears fluffy white flower in the spring, however, in late summer through winter it is vivid blue berries that will hold your attention, and the attention of every songbird in the neighborhood.

Spring through fall beauty is front and center in every garden but what your garden will look like in the winter is also important, especially if you have a back room with windows looking out into your garden. Select plants that look good dormant – when all their leaves have fallen, become essential to having an interesting winter garden. Evergreens are great to use, but to spice it up a little bit, make sure to add varieties like:
Arctic Fire™ Cornus – only reaching 3 to 4 feet when other Dogwoods reach 6 plus feet, this variety can be easily planted in mass in a smaller landscape with no problem. Imagine looking out that back window to a mass of bright red stems popping out of pure white snow. How beautiful! It will warm you up like a nice bowl of chicken noodle soup.

Arctic Sun™ Cornus – has exactly the same qualities as Arctic Fire, but the stems are yellow with red tips, giving you the choice to have either red or yellow stems for your winter landscape.

White Dome® Hydrangea – right now I know you are thinking what? A hydrangea? But the dried seed heads of this variety look stunning in a winter garden. They almost look like dried Sedum, but in larger masses. These seed heads look beautiful as a dried cut flower for inside décor as well.

There are many more varieties that can be planted to have a beautiful fall and winter garden. Look for these varieties in garden centers. They may not be in bloom in spring, but when you plant them and get an incredible performance in the fall you will be glad you found them.

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row