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Your own fall color

first_imgBy Jim MidcapUniversity of GeorgiaFall is here, and random dogwoods and maples are hinting of thefall leaf season. But while you’re making plans to admire thecolorful foliage, plan to plant your own fall color.If you’ve lost trees to the recent storms, you have room for newones. And fall is the best time to plant trees. Our nurseries andgarden centers are stocked up with a range of trees.If you can spare the space, here are some that offer outstandingfall color. Some are readily available. Others will be harder tofind.Chinese pistache is a handsome,tough tree with an oval, roundedshape. Its leaves are pest-free, lustrous dark green with smallleaflets. The foliage changes in fall to a rich orange-red. Thebark is gray, with exfoliating flakes.These plants withstand drought and infertile soils. Chinesepistache makes a fine choice for a medium shade tree, reaching 30to 40 feet tall. It’s hardy throughout the state.Red maple is a swamp nativereaching 40 to 60 feet tall. Youngtrees are pyramidal, becoming rounded to irregular at maturity.The reddish flowers of spring are followed by bright red fruit.The smooth gray bark is very attractive.Fall leaves develop into glorious yellows and reds. Namedselections are widely available. “October Glory” and “AutumnBlaze” offer reliable color.Persian parrotia is a rather rare,small tree. The clean summerfoliage changes to a kaleidoscope of purple, orange and yellow inthe fall. The bark exfoliates, revealing dark and light patchesof color on the twisting, multiple trunks.The small, maroon flowers appear in late winter. Mature trees areoften wider than they are tall. The foliage is insect- anddisease-free. Plants do better in the upper half of Georgia onwell-drained soils.The elegant katsura tree ispyramidal in youth and becomes anupright, oval form with age. The leaves mature to blue-green andturn a rich yellow to apricot in fall. The falling leaves giveoff a spicy fragrance. The brown, shaggy bark provides year-roundinterest.It has no serious insect or disease problems. However, it has tobe watered during droughts to prevent early leaf drop. This agreat tree if you have enough space. It grows 40 to 60 feet talland is hardy statewide.American yellowwood is an uncommonnative tree that’s not widelysold. Trees are low-branching with broad, rounded crowns. Thewhite spring flowers produce a spectacular show but may bloomonly in alternate years.The butter-yellow fall color is great. The larger branches andtrunk are smooth and gray. Yellowwood makes an excellent mediumspecimen tree at 30 to 50 feet tall. The trees are hardythroughout the state.Sourwood is one of our best nativetrees for fall color. It’sdelicately pyramidal, with drooping branches. Young leaves matureto a lustrous, dark green and turn red to maroon in the fall.The white flowers come in 4- to 10-inch panicles in June andJuly. Sourwood is a great choice for naturalizing native sites insun or partial shade. The trees reach 25 to 35 feet and do bestin northern Georgia.Ginkgo is old. Its unique,fan-shaped leaves are embedded in thefossil record. It’s very slow to become established. Young plantsare gaunt and open but become full and dense with age.It becomes a beautiful, mature specimen when the bright greenleaves turn a brilliant, clear yellow in the fall. The leaveswill suddenly cascade to the ground in a single day.But buy male trees if you can. Female trees produce fruits thatdevelop a rancid odor as they mature.Fall is the perfect time to plant young trees, even as you enjoythe spectacular fall color. New plantings develop strong roots inthe cooler, moist fall soils. Be sure to select trees adapted toyour site to ensure the success of your planting project.(Jim Midcap is an Extension Service horticulturist with theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.)last_img

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