Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
November, 2006
Regional Report

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This fullmoon maple is clothed in brilliant, long-lasting fall color.

Plan for Next Year's Fall Colors

I'm hoping you will indulge me a bit. I've been walking and driving around, craning my neck in wonder at the splendid fall color. In my area we are just at peak color -- an excellent time to do a little planning for next year.

Some of the best shades right now are the deep maroon dogwoods and the bright gold hickories. The white berries of gray dogwood are beautiful set amidst their purple leaves, and the berries already eaten by birds have revealed the bright cerise stems that will remain all winter. Redtwig dogwoods have redder leaves than gray dogwoods, and as they begin to drop, the bright red stems are revealed.

A native shrub with shades of red and hints of orange is nannyberry viburnum. These shrubs are irregularly shaped, about 8 feet tall, and are covered with blue-black berries in late summer. Most of the berries are gone now, leaving the colorful leaves as focal points. Because of their irregular shape, these are best used in a natural border or as a backdrop for other plants.

The other viburnum in its glory right now is the American cranberry viburnum. Its three-lobed deep maroon leaves are large enough to cover the shrub's red berries. Once we have a few more hard freezes, the leaves will drop and reveal clusters of bright berries that remain on the stems all winter. This was a good year for berry production -- the plants are absolutely laden.

Then there are the red and white oaks in subtle red, birches in bright gold, and Schwedler Norway maples in russet and rust. The sumacs are also in their best garb right now, with occasional bursts of bright red peeking through the other quieter colors. Not only are the leaves bright, but the clusters of berries that stand above them are colorful enough to make beautiful focal points all winter.

There is the orange-red of black cherry and even the yellow-orange of silver maple. The willows are beginning their turn to bright yellow, and serviceberries are clothed in the brightest orange, red, and yellow.

Nurseries Offer Colorful Choices and Good Deals
What more could you ask for to lend festivity to the scene? A visit to the garden center or nursery will give you ideas. You will find landscape plants dressed in their fall finery, just waiting to be planted in your yard. And best of all, most garden centers have great plant sales at this time of year.

Not only a season for closure, autumn is a superb time for planting and transplanting. The cool air slows down plant growth while the still-warm soil encourages root growth to help plants reestablish themselves. Fall rains also help out with watering newly planted treasures, yet the soil usually stays dry enough to work without getting mired in mud.

It feels great to be outdoors at this time of year. The coolness gives gardeners a burst of energy that is only matched in early spring. So with bargains at the garden centers and enthusiasm in your back pocket, why not redo or add to your landscape to make it even more beautiful for next fall? Don't forget to pick a few bargain bulbs in the process.

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