Almost all deciduous trees produce an amazing seasonal display in fall, delighting the eyes and engaging the imagination. The transformation in some groves brings out eco-tourists who brave rain and cool temperatures just to participate in nature's paintbrush art.

Lesser Known Options

Deciduous trees aren't the only plants that produce a fall show. Other plants strut their stuff with late season tones. Barberry bushes deepen in color and develop bright red berries in fall. Autumn fruits from snowberry to porcelain berry dance across the landscape, attracting birds and enlivening the garden. Giant clusters of orange-red drupes dangle from heavily laden ash trees and the deep turquoise fruits of harlequin glorybower cling until late in the season. Arbutus or strawberry tree is laden with one-inch wide soft textured bright red fruits that both animals and bipeds will enjoy. Other plants with fall fruit might include Pyracantha, Cotoneaster and Oregon grape.

Shapes and Forms

As plants lose leaves they leave behind interesting skeletons that captivate the viewer. Twisted forms such as Harry Lauder's Walking Stick, a filbert with interesting catkins, flying dragon bitter orange and contorted quince reign supreme in the autumn landscape. The bright white peeling bark of a beech tree, the red canes of a Siberian dogwood and the green striped bark of a snake bark maple are just some of the bark and stem appeal that can be had in the fall garden. Paper bark maple and lace bark pine have ornamental bark as do some of the willows, Chinese elm and Stewartia. There are a host of bark and stem forms with natural interest from which to choose to decorate the fall landscape.

Not Just Leaves

Once deciduous leaves have turned color and fallen to the ground, all is still not lost for autumn interest. Many ornamental grasses produce inflorescences that fly proudly like flags high above the plant and well into winter. Pampas and Miscanthus are two huge grasses with impressive white tufts held aloft over deeply green slender blades that arch into graceful mounds. Wild oats and Pennisetum are a couple other standout fall grasses. Vines such as Virginia creeper, ivy and sweet autumn clematis provide structure and vertical interest. Even the larger sedum, such as 'Autumn Joy' will retain their flower heads well into late fall, gradually turning from their rosy pink to an interesting dried flower cluster.
Perennial plants take fall to a whole new level. Deep blue monkshood flowers in fall while Chrysanthemums stun in colors from yellow to mauve and back up to vivid orange. Asters are the work horses of the autumn garden and Joe Pye weed towers over most other plants with clusters of purplish-pink blooms. Clouds of dazzling yellow crown goldenrod with masses of purple Russian sage enhancing the spectacle. There are many perennials that will continue to bloom up until the first freezes and drag out the growing season deliciously.

Reliable Varieties

Autumn overwhelmingly belongs to the deciduous trees. Golden leaves of the honey locust, the angelic wings of the Ginko, rusts, maroons and gold tones from Japanese maples, and deep red leaves from burning bush Euonymous are just some of the trees and shrubs that produce powerful parades of color. Smoketree has fuzzy pink flowers creating a halo around the stems and leaves that deepen from yellow to orange-red. The Redbud collects the colors of the rainbow, holding leaves all at once in a multitude of hues. Witch hazel glows a fierce yellow and 'Katsura' maple gleams with apricot appeal.
Take a drive and get inspired by falls many opulent tones and plan a color display that will dazzle your neighbors and make your house the driveby destination of autumn color seekers for miles.