Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Autumn Color: More Than Just Leaves

Clockwise from top left: New York ironweed, Tuskegee crapemrytle, Vera Jameson sedum, Aromatic Aster)

Autumn is a magical time at the arboretum. Cool breezes rustle the leaves as they transition to golden and garnet hues. Colorful, tree-lined vistas surround you. There is more to appreciate at the Arboretum in fall than just the trees, though. There are many flowering plants and shrubs that liven up the fall landscape. The Arboretum is a good place to visit if you're looking for some ideas to bring new life to your own garden this time of the year. Here is small sampling of what you will see blooming starting in September:
  • Vernonia noveboracensis (New York ironweed): Ironweed is a 5-7 foot tall native plant that has clusters of pinkish-purple flowers. Look for it in the meadows in September. Ironweed is a favorite among pollinators. You are likely to observe several bees or butterflies on this brightly colored herbaceous perennial.
  • Lagerstroemia 'Tuskegee' (Tuskegee crapemyrtle): The deep pink/nearly-red flowers of this crapemyrtle can be spotted in September in the Oak AllĂ©e. Later in the fall, the foliage turns red-orange. The mottled bark adds further visual interest. Lagerstroemia 'Tuskegee' is considered a small tree and can grow up to 20 feet tall and wide.
  • Sedum 'Vera Jameson' (Vera Jameson sedum): Sedums are a must for the fall garden and come in many colors and sizes. I have several in my own garden. This variety near the Rose Garden grows about 10-12 inches tall, has blue gray foliage that deepens to a dark burgundy or purple, and blooms with reddish-pink flower clusters beginning in September.
  • Symphyotrichum oblongifolium 'Raydon's Favorite' (Aromatic Aster): Asters signal that autumn is in full swing. Their daisy-like flowers can range in color from pinks to purples and blues. The aromatic, lavender flowers of 'Raydon's Favorite' can be found blooming near the Rose Garden in October. Like ironweed, asters are a great nectar source, so keep an eye out for butterflies and other pollinators.

As you walk around the Arboretum enjoying the crisp and invigorating autumn air, be sure to take notice of these flowers, as well as the trees. What other fall-blooming plants and shrubs do you see? Do you have a favorite?

Article contributed by Kristen Bower, Guest Garden Blogger for Morris Arboretum

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