Intense fall foliage makes the garden completeEvery year people try to plan vacation to see the fall colors and the changing of the foliage throughout the country. Based on the weather, it can happen a little different each year, so it’s not always easy to plan ahead of time. Whether they go to the Great Lakes region or to the New England states, the colors are sure to please people’s visual senses.
By: John Zvirovski, The Jamestown Sun
Every year people try to plan vacation to see the fall colors and the changing of the foliage throughout the country. Based on the weather, it can happen a little different each year, so it’s not always easy to plan ahead of time. Whether they go to the Great Lakes region or to the New England states, the colors are sure to please people’s visual senses.
One color does not seem to supersede another, as it is the entire pallet of yellow, gold, orange, red, purple, burgundy and brown that seems to paint the picture we enjoy most. The photography and paintings that result from these scenes are completely amazing.
Of all the seasons in our area, autumn is the one that displays that warmest scheme of hues. It seems to display the most color in the shortest amount of time. Once the leaves have changed, they remain on the trees and bushes for only a short period of time and then the color is gone. In North Dakota, it only takes a few windy days as we experienced this past week, to blow all the colors away.
In our region, we tend to get color schemes predominantly of green, gold and brown. When we actually see a tree or shrub of orange or red, it is extremely eye-catching and tends to be the focal point of any landscape. It is something I try to promote more in our area to develop a more diverse color pallet for interest and allure.
What are the factors that cause these various colors from one item to another? One of the largest factors of color change happens to be the weather conditions. Every plant has a color scheme to it of shades of yellow or orange. These color compounds are hidden in the growing months, as the predominant color of green masks them through chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the process which provides energy and food to the rest of the plant as it grows through the season. As this process is halted and the chlorophyll becomes inactive, the true colors of the leave begin to appear.
In our area, most of the colors happen to be the brown leaves on trees such as the white oaks, the ironwoods, or the boxelders. This brown color is caused by the waste products of tannins in the leaves of particular tree and bush species. Yellow and gold colors seem to appear in trees such as birch, aspen, linden, ash, cottonwood, and hackberry. Most of the trees and shrubs that produce these colors are common in our area, as they happen to be the varieties that are available in our region which grow well in alkali soils. The compounds that produce the orange and red colors are not as accessible to most of the vegetation that grow in our area.
Do not be discouraged by this information, as each year new varieties are being produced that create these great colors we seek to add to our landscape. Some of the wonderful varieties that are available today are still not used nearly enough for a good color scheme and balance.
Sugar maple trees do not always do well in our area as they prefer a more acidic soil, but many still grow well in various areas of the region. When healthy, these trees will produce a brilliant orange leaf that can turn red in the right conditions. For a truly heart-stopping effect, try the amur maple, which is a nice, medium-sized tree that produces wonderful colors or orange, red and burgundy. The new varieties of Autumn Blaze and Firedance Maple will be sure to drop your jaw as they produce the most intense color of red. They are a cross between the silver and red maples and have a stronger wood structure than the silver.
Ohio Buckeye is a medium-sized tree that can produce colors of gold to orange and keep a dense crown of leaves. Tiger Eye sumac will produce a yellow coloring that turns to a fiery orange a few weeks later, where as the Smooth and Staghorn sumac with produce colors of orange and deep red. Tatarian maples also create beautiful shades of orange in our area and are a nice medium tree with good structure. Try the Red Wings variety and enjoy the red seeds that hang from the tree throughout the summer for an additional flare.
Shrubs like the cotoneaster, along with the red and black chokeberry, create a beautiful mix of foliage with gold, orange and red in the fall season. The Burning Bush or Euonymus varieties will produce a glowing red color that literally makes the bush look like it is on fire. Viburnum species such as the Arrowwood, Nannyberry and Highbush cranberries will produce beautiful shades of arrange with touches of red.
If your space is limited, or you have a more vertical effect you want to create, try the Virginia Creeper, which is a rampant vine that can grow on most anything. When this vine changes color, the leaves turn brilliant shades of red and burgundy. If you are trying to cover an unsightly chain-link fence, try growing this vine upon it. It will be sure to take over and make your barrier look more like a living hedge over a cold metal fence.
These colors are enhanced more with the right weather conditions. Those would be warm and sunny days combined with cool and dry nights during the early autumn season. These factors will bring out the best color in any of the varieties you chose to grow.
I encourage you to try and diversify your color schemes in the landscape by adding some of these great selections. When the autumn season arrives, you will be happy you added some of the more intense colors into your foliar scheme. Heat up the season with some warm colors during the cooling season of autumn.