Fall Color in the Garden with Native Plants

Fall is a wonderful time of the year for a gardener. Cool, crisp temperatures make outdoor work actually enjoyable. As I drove through the country this week, I couldn't help but love all the changing foliage colors along the roadside. Natural landscapes just come alive when temperatures drop.

What can we do to bring some of that color to our home garden? Many gardeners rush out to the garden center to purchase popular choices, but many of the available plants are so invasive that they should not be planted at all! We all should do a little research prior to purchasing new plants for the garden.

Native plants are superior to exotics in many ways, but the most important asset is that native plants will not overpopulate themselves to take over and choke out other plants. We should all choose native plants whenever possible.

I know I say it all the time, but my favorite of all plants is our native Oakleaf Hydrangea. Just as spectular in fall as in other seasons, Hydrangea quercifolia's large oak-shaped leaves change to a brilliant burgundy wine when autumn's cooler temperatures arrive.

Another native shrub guaranteed to attract attention is Virginia Sweetspire. Itea virginica is a native American plant that is available in several forms--all display vibrant foliage colors of wine, burgundy, or red in fall. Spring blooms are fragrant and loved by pollinators, but the foliage is usually the main reason this shrub is planted--it is simply breathtaking! (Moist soil is a requirement for this plant to thrive.)

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