Fall Garden Color

by Donna Kauffman

Fall color is one thing most Texans don't have and miss -- especially having moved from other parts of the country.  A well planned landscape design can provide beautiful leaf color in the fall and still incorporate flowers.

For selection of trees, the Red Oak color is genetic.  Choose Red Oaks with the color you desire in the fall.  Sumac is a native tree in Colleyville, nothing surpasses its  red flame color.  Sweet Gum, Chinese Pistachio and Crepe Myrtle give good orange/yellow fall color.  If you choose other trees which are known for fall color but aren't native to Texas,  they won't adapt well and will loose their leaves after the heat of the summer, before you have had a chance to enjoy them.  Some of these include -- Silver Maple and Beech Trees.

In choosing shrubs, Nandina varieties are at the top of the list.  They have nice red fall color, are evergreen, with lasting color all winter. Nandina Domestica grows to be six feet tall; however, there are other varieties that are smaller -- Compacta, Gulf Stream, Nana, and Harbor Dwf.  Deciduous shrubs such as the Barberry and Burning Bush also give spectacular color.

Ground covers that provide good color in the fall include Wintercreeper, also known as Colorado Euonymus.  It is a red  evergreen.  Bergenia is also an evergreen with a plume flower appearing in the spring.  Its leaves are succulent and show a  bronze color in the fall and winter.  Virginia Creeper is a deciduous vine and can be trained to spread on the ground.  It is a Texas native and has a pretty red fall color.

I use perennials in all my landscape designs.  At  the top of the list for fall color I have -- Asters, Salvia, Lantana, Oxblood Lily, and Fall Crocus.  Asters belong to the sunflower family and have lavender petals with a yellow center.  Autumn Sage has the typical Salvia spike flower and blooms in the spring, summer, and fall -- being most prolific in the fall.  Lantana,which exist at some of the older homes in Colleyville,  are perennial in the bi-color form.  Either pink/yellow or orange/yellow, they bloom throughout the summer and are extremely nice in the fall.  Oxblood Lily is the color it describes and blooms a  bell-shaped, lily flower.  Fall crocus is a  bulb that sends up leaves after flowering but disappears by the spring. 

What I especially enjoy about fall blooming perennials is that after the heat of the summer, just when you think nothing good could possibly come of all this heat , out bursts this beautiful fall color-- it is as rejuvenating as spring.