HOOKSETT -- While mums and asters are the go-to plants to bring temporary color to a fall landscape, planting perennials, trees and shrubs that come to into their own when the weather cools will make a lasting impression.
“There are a lot of really good, colorful trees that add substance to a landscape,” said George Grondin, nursery manager at Faulkner’s Landscaping and Nursery in Hooksett.
Mainstays of a New Hampshire autumn landscape, sugar maples and “October Glory” maples bring rainbows of reds and oranges, but there are less common trees like sweet gum, and the “Full Moon” Japanese maple that really brighten things up, said Grondin.
“The sweet gum turns from green to the deepest, best red of any tree and it has a large, maple-shaped leaf,” he said. “It really puts on a good show.”
The “Full Moon” Japanese maple offers a gradual change as autumn arrives, morphing from a brilliant lime green to golden yellow and eventually to a “fiery, orangy-red,” said Grondin.
There are also a wide range of shrubs that provide a burst of color and create focal points in the garden. Fothergilla, a plant that blooms with delicate white flowers in the spring, becomes a happy red in the fall, Grondin said.
Viburnum, which produce berries, draw birds to the yard and also a touch of red, and dogwoods aren’t afraid to show a brighter side either. But the best of all worlds comes from blueberries, which produce their sweet fruit in the summer and make a bit of colorful magic in autumn.
“Trees and shrubs are really important for adding substance and focal points to a landscape,” said Grondin.
Mixing in perennials and some unusual annuals can also make the passing of summer seem not so sad, and there are lots of options, according to Crista Salamy, owner of Tenney Farm in Antrim.
Sedum, a tall, succulent plant blooms in pinks, reds and mauves in cooler weather, and tall phlox and late delphiniums make things just a little prettier. Russian sage, tick seed, and coneflower also do well until the frost comes.
“Butterfly bushes, which are out in full force right now, are so beautiful,” said Salamy. “I can’t even stand how pretty they are.”
And when the flowers fade, Salamy said, the texture of a variety of grasses can fill in the empty spots.
Fall is the perfect time to plant pretty much anything, Salamy said, and there are some great bargains to be had. “This is the time of year when we do our big sale to get rid of everything before the end of the season,” she said.
But she warns gardeners to watch those zone labels that tell which areas plants can survive. Lots of places sell plants that aren’t zoned for New Hampshire’s tough winters.
Manchester and the surrounding area falls into zones 5 and 6, while northern areas and higher elevations, including the Monadnock Region, need zones 3 and 4, she said.
“You can plant things that are zoned for warmer climates,” she said. “But they won’t come back.”