Thursday, October 10, 2013
Suburban News

Prefer an even fancier display for your property?

“The fall color on most plants’ leaves is solid red, orange or yellow,” said Rich Cording, of CLC Landscape Design, Ringwood. “However, a few select plants have the unique characteristic of an array of colors on each leaf.”

He said the Fernleaf Full Moon Japanese Maple and the Fothergilla each have this particular trait – “They have exceptional fall color and look beautiful in any landscape.”

When the leaves of even those trees drop, however, fabulous winter interest can still be found in many other species.


Most holly shrubs, with their glossy green foliage and red or white berries, provide contrasting color year-round, noted Robert Schucker, president of R&S Landscape, Midland Park. “Holly is also great for attracting small birds, especially in winter,” he said.

Schucker recommends the following shrubs for added color and winter interest:

  • Winterberry holly (ilex verticillata) – Even after the leaves drop, boasts persistent red berries that last through fall and winter. “It provides a nice contrast against snow,” Schucker said.
  • Beautyberry (callicarpa) – A deci-duous shrub that sprouts profuse clusters of bright purple berries through fall and winter.
  • Witch-hazel (hamamelis virginiana) – Blooms when most others are done. Leaves are yellow or gold in fall; spidery yel-low or orange flowers add splashes of color in January and February.
  • Virginia Sweetspire (itea virginica) – Rich green summer leaves give way to deep burgundy in the fall. November is peak color time. Because this is a semi-evergreen, leaves will stay until temps fall below 15-20 degrees. Also, the summer fluffy white blooms are followed by tan seed heads that persist through fall.


Some trees can be just as attractive after the leaves drop because of their interesting, sculptural bark and branch shapes.

“I look to reliable evergreen plants, such as spruce and boxwood, for color in the landscape, and I look to deciduous plants that have colorful bark,” Cording said.

Among his recommendations:

  • Paperbark maple (acer griseum) – This tree has a cinnamon-colored bark that sheds to display a darker, reddish layer beneath.
  • Coral Bark Japanese Maple (acer palmatum) – “It seems the colder it gets, the brighter red this small tree turns,” Cording noted. “It has exceptional color for fall and into the deep winter months.”
  • Native dogwood varieties, including the red- and yellow-twig dogwoods (cornus sericea), feature namesake colored limbs that are pretty when the rest of the landscape appears bare.
  • Birch trees in general, with their dappled bark are “just beautiful,” said Schucker. He recommended, in particular, the bark of the black birch (betula nigra).
  • Weeping cherry (prunus subhirtella) and other smaller ornamental trees remain lovely not only throughout the blooming season, he said, but also have attractive “branching” when their leaves drop.

The good news: It’s not too late to enjoy nature’s palette this season. “Plants and trees can be comfortably planted through the end of November,” Shucker said.
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