February 2018

Another look at fall color

Double Play Gold Pink spirea. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

On a recent early morning walk, I became enthralled with the beauty of fall color. But this was not the reds, golds and purples of the season.

Instead, a light frost glistened on the leaves of perennials, shrubs and even the grass, edging the plants in lacy white. Even the stems and branches of plants were dusted with frost.

The frosted plants remind me that the garden remains beautiful, even as it goes through the throes of seasonal death.

The scene was enhanced by fall-colored foliage, but not on the plants you might expect. Here’s a sampler:

Double Play Gold Pink spirea (Spiraea japonica), a new introduction from Proven Winners is in its second year in my garden. The shrub gets no more than 24 inches tall and wide, making it perfect for smaller urban yards or as an accent plant in a perennial bed. In summer, the leaves are gold and the seemingly everblooming flowers are pink.

In fall, Double Play Gold Pink becomes a nice blend of yellow, red, purple and green. It prefers full sun, blooms on new wood and is winter hardy throughout Indiana and most of the Midwest.

Unfortunately, spireas are often overlooked when it comes to year-round interest. Besides flowers and gold, green or blue-ish foliage in spring and summer, many spireas have gorgeous red, purple or gold leaves in fall and colorful stems in winter.

Ginger Peach coral bell. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

‘Ginger Peach’ coral bell (Heuchera) has taken on its deep peach tones for fall. Introduced by Terra Nova Nurseries, the sturdy ‘Ginger Peach’ has white flowers in spring. The leaves are bright yellow and red in spring and summer when grown in full to part sun.

Hardy throughout the Midwest, coral bells are evergreen, meaning the leaves are present all winter. Most do well in a moist, but not wet, well-drained soil in a shady location. New introductions of this native perennial are appreciated for their year-round, beautiful foliage. Plant coral bells in clusters for the best flower show.


Comments are closed.