Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Color Favorites at Morris Arboretum

Autumn is one of the most popular times to visit the Morris Arboretum and visitors enjoy the vibrant display of color throughout the garden. Mid-October is a great time to begin your fall color wanderings through the gardens, returning whenever you can into November.

Be sure to explore some of our visitor and staff favorites:
  • From Widener Visitor Center towards Gates Hall, between the small parking lot and the Orange Balustrade you will find Acer palmatum ‘Heptalobum’, one of the most outstanding Japanese maples for red fall color.  Continuing from there toward Gates Hall, you will see the incredible golden foliage of Princeton Gold Chinese witchhazel (Hamamelis mollis ‘Princeton Gold’).
  • At the bottom of the Holly Slope, tucked behind the signature katsura-tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), are several broad-leaved evergreens.  These are Camellia oleifera (tea-oil camellia), with its beautiful white flowers, and Camellia sinensis, the plant from which tea is made, with its small white flowers. 
  • Around the corner from the Holly Slope is one of the most interesting plants for fall color, used as a hedge surrounding the Long Fountain, Lindera salicifolia (one of the Asian spicebushes).  This plant colors very late in the fall turning a variety of reds, yellows, and oranges, before the leaves fade to russet and persist through the winter.  
  • Downstream from the Swan Pond, along the East Brook are several plants of a native shrub, southern blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) with burgundy-colored leaves and bright blue fruits that are attractive to birds. Behind these stands the majestic Engler beech (Fagus engleriana) with its russet-red fall color and leaves that also persist into winter.
  • Surrounding the Engler beech are a number of small trees, including Stewartia pseduocamellia (Japanese stewartia) with beautiful bark, white flowers in June, and rich red-orange fall color; nearby is Parrotia persica (Persian parrotia) a medium-sized tree also with beautiful bark and leaves that start out with deep purple color before turning a mix of yellows, oranges, and reds. 
  • Finally, along the path near the Mercury Loggia is a concentration of witchhazels, including Sandra vernal witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis ‘Sandra’), noteworthy for its red fall foliage.

These are just a few of the autumn gems on display at the Arboretum, with many more awaiting your discovery. Take the time to explore the Morris Arboretum this fall – you will probably see some old friends and no doubt discover some new favorites!

Acer palmatum 'Heptalobum'
Camellia sinensis
Fagus engleriana
Hamamelis mollis 'Princeton Gold'

Hamamelis vernalis 'Sandra'


  1. Around the corner from the Holly Slope is one of the most interesting plants for fall color, used as a hedge surrounding the Long Fountain, Lindera salicifolia (one of the Asian spicebushes). This plant colors very late in the fall turningflowering shrubs

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