Trees and Shrubs With Fall Color

Trees and Shrubs With Fall Color

Part of Ep. 705 Fall Color in the Garden

Explore the wide selection of trees and shrubs that create beautiful colors in the fall.

Premiere date: Oct 30, 1999

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
I love the fall. There's no humidity, fewer insects and great fall color. We're all familiar with the red-orange color of Wisconsin's maples, but there are many other trees and shrubs with great color. I'm with Dr. Laura Jull, assistant professor of horticulture for the University of Wisconsin-Madison and extension specialist. Laura, this tree is just fantastic. Look at the color of these leaves.

Laura:
Isn't it though? This is the purplebloom maple, acer pseudpsieboldianum, and it has this absolutely gorgeous red to orange fall color.

Shelley:
You know, one of my problems with fall colors, I love the leaves, but once they go, so often my landscape is desolate.

Laura:
Well, this tree also has smooth grey bark with black streaks that actually can look somewhat ornamental in the wintertime.

Shelley:
So, we can extend the interest right out until the snow is out there.

Laura:
Sure. And it makes a wonderful small garden or patio tree, due to its small size. It only gets about 15 to 25 feet tall.

Shelley:
So, this isn't as big as a classic sugar maple.

Laura:
No, no.

Shelley:
Now, this is not the Japanese maple that is marginally hearty in Wisconsin.

Laura:
No. In fact this is cold hardy to mid-Wisconsin.

Shelley:
Excellent, so almost anybody can grow it then. And are there any special growth requirements when we're planting this?

Laura:
It's similar to the Japanese maple in that it likes moist, weltering soil in full sun.

Shelley:
So, a good mulch would help it, too.

Laura:
Yes.

Shelley:
Are they available? Would I be able to find one for sale in Wisconsin?

Laura:
It's a little hard to find, but there are a couple of nurseries in Wisconsin that are selling them.

Shelley:
The more we ask for it, the more we'll find people growing it.

Laura:
Absolutely.

Shelley:
Okay, what else can we look at?

Laura:
Well, there are not just fall colors, but there are some interesting plants with showy bark habit.

Shelley:
Okay, let's look at those.

Laura:
Shelley, here we have the winged euonymus or burning bush, the euonymus alatus. It not only has this beautiful display of fall color, but it has these very interesting corky or winged branches that provide wonderful winter interest, especially with fresh snow.

Shelley:
I can just see these sharp ridges with snow layered on them. That would be beautiful.

Laura:
It is.

Shelley:
I also see something, well there's not a lot of it, but I see some fruit on this tree, too.

Laura:
It does have somewhat showy fruit. It's not spectacular, but the fruit provides a nice interest in the wintertime and does help feed the birds.

Shelley:
I've seen cedar waxwings feeding off of it and that just increase its level of attraction in my backyard.

Laura:
Absolutely.

Shelley:
This is a very common shrub, is there anything we have to think about when purchasing one?

Laura:
It's readily available throughout Wisconsin and it is cold hardy throughout Wisconsin. In choosing a plant, it's important to keep in mind that the straight species gets about 15 to 20 feet tall. However, there are cultivars that do get smaller, one of which is called compactum. That only gets six to eight feet tall and might be more suitable for your home landscape.

Shelley:
So, really check the label when you're buying this one so you don't have a 15 foot tall one in front of your front door.

Laura:
Absolutely.

Shelley:
Okay.

Laura:
Shelley, I'd like to show you a very nice plant that has showy fruit in the wintertime.

Shelley:
Great, okay. Laura, this is incredible, look at the berries on this. But do they actually last, I mean even when there's snow out there?

Laura:
Absolutely. This is the emerald carousel barberry, berberis emerald carousel. And it has this beautiful showy bright red fruit, even in wintertime.

Shelley:
They glow from a distance, too.

Laura:
And the fruit are produced on these arching branches that really show off the display of the fruit.

Shelley:
It's got a very graceful shape to it. And then, it's actually got some beautiful fall foliage, too, almost a purple to the leaves.

Laura:
It has this royal purple fall color. The foliage in the summertime is green. But its followed by this wonderful fall color.

Shelley:
Are there flowers on this one?

Laura:
Yes. Flowers bloom in may and they're bright yellow.

Shelley:
So, we've really got four seasons of interest with this one.

Laura:
Absolutely.

Shelley:
Now, I do notice some rather sharp thorns so I wouldn't plant something like this on your walkway.

Laura:
No, I wouldn't either. However, it would make a great barrier plant.

Shelley:
I've got just the spot for it then. Are we looking at a mature size here?

Laura:
Yes, this cultivar gets about five to six feet tall.

Shelley:
And readily available for us?

Laura:
It's readily available in many nurseries in Wisconsin. And it also is cold hardy throughout Wisconsin. It is drought-tolerant and doesn't need much moisture in the landscape either.

Shelley:
So, it's pretty much an all-purpose shrub. Okay, I'd like to look at one last tree and this one is one of my favorites.

Laura:
Great.

Shelley:
You know Laura, I think I need a bigger yard. I know that the black tupelo or black gum is fussier, but look at it. I've got to find a place in my yard for this. This is gorgeous.

Laura:
Isn't this beautiful? A black gum or nyssa sylvatica, it provides a wonderful kaleidoscope of fall colors.

Shelley:
Look, you've got red, orange, burgundy, I see wine colors in here. I mean, this is incredible, and the gloss on the leaves.

Laura:
Isn't it spectacular?

Shelley:
But it is fussier, isn't it?

Laura:
Yes. Black gum needs an acid soil. They are quite finicky on that. And they tend to be hard to transplant. And unfortunately, this tree is hard to find in Wisconsin nurseries. However, if you do find it and you have the right location, look what you can have.

Shelley:
Well, it's cold hardy, too, so if you can surmount the other problems, you've got it made.

Laura:
Absolutely.

Shelley:
Well it also has, in addition to this leaf color, it has got blue-black berries, which the birds go absolutely nuts over. What else do you need? But it has got more doesn't it?

Laura:
Yes it does, actually. The winter silhouette of this tree is wonderful. It has this nice pure middle form that is unique to most trees.

Shelley:
It's very formal looking. It has very dark black bark, too. Well, i think it's one I'm going to have to try. We're looking at about what, 50 feet high?

Laura:
Yes, about 50 feet tall in maturity.

Shelley:
Okay, I think I'm going to have to try it. Thanks Laura. If you'd like to see more of fall colored trees and shrubs, be sure to visit Longenecker Gardens at the University of Wisconsin- Madison Arboretum.

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