Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Autumn Foliage ... Autumn Strong!


Although the year of 2020 has provided numerous issues and disappointments for many, our autumn season this year is NOT a disappointment!  Fall foliage remained on many trees through October, and a few trees are still holding their foliage in place in early November.  Despite severe winds many days, the trees held foliage longer than normal, and we were able to enjoy those rusty golds and peachy orange shades for several weeks. (In southeastern Wisconsin, we have also enjoyed several 70-degree days in November—quite unusual!)

On a hiking trail during October, I encountered an amazing red oak (Quercus rubrum) with deep shades of brick red against the blue sky. Soil acidity and nutrients must have been perfect for this tree—it was truly in a happy place!

In my home garden, some plants performed nicely into early November:  Heuchera ‘Cherry Truffles’ has lovely deep burgundy leaves and is still going strong today, despite a few snow flurries and -30 degree temps some nights.

American cranberry bush (Viburnum trilobum) was also so special this autumn; the lime green foliage turned various shades, and leaves are lovely against those striking red fruits.  (This shrub has persistent fruit so it will remain on the bush all winter through April/May; then the migrating cedar waxwings will discover it and usually consume all fermented fruit in a single day… great fun to observe!)

Most geraniums are considered summery plants, but I have one variety of Pelargonium with lime green/brown foliage.  It is attractive for fall d├ęcor as well. This plant needed to be covered during some cold nights, but it was dazzling throughout October.

I’d like to mention one additional great performer this autumn: dry leaves!   Teaching a toddler how to gather up handfuls of leaves and toss them in the air is a perfect stress reliever for anyone.  (When you’re finished, those leaves can be tossed into your compost bin to decay in months ahead and create organic matter for future gardening.)  

Hope you have found ways to enjoy the outdoors throughout this magnificent, colorful season.  

This fall deserves to be called Autumn Strong!

M. Lynn Schmid – Certified Master Gardener
AAS  Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture