Autumn is a wonderful time of year. The colors are gorgeous, and the weather is usually kind enough to be outside. If you want flamboyant fall foliage or vibrant berries, now is the time to visit garden centers to see how well the plant shows off its colors. Here are a few unusual ones to try:
Beautyberry (Calicarpa bodinieri): This plant is called beautyberry with good reason. It's a slow-growing shrub with nondescript flowers in spring and it bides its time until winter when the berries turn the brilliant purple. As the weather gets colder, the berries get brighter and more vibrant, so wait until after the first frost to start cutting branches for arrangements.
Burning bush (Euonymous monstrosa): This plant is beautiful every month of the year, but in fall it turns fiery red, then drops its leaves to reveal tiny apple-red berries dangling from the corky branches. Plant it for its fall color and the quirky wings on the bark.
Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia): This hydrangea makes long panicles of soft-white flowers that turn tinged pink, then dried brown. In fall its large leaves turn red and purple.
Smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria): Its flowers look like puffs of smoke in spring. In autumn, the leaves turn bright yellow and orange. It is a gorgeous sight. It's one of the last trees to turn color.
There's still time to plant broccoli, garlic (cloves), lettuce, onions, peas, shallots and Swiss chard.
Bulbs to plant include crocus daffodils, freesias, hyacinths, ranunculus, fritillary, star of Bethlehem and tulips. Gophers love tulips so pots may be a good alternative.
Clean and fillhummingbird feeders.
Keep raking and cleaning gutters.
Be vigilant about finding and killing slugs and snails. They're hiding beneath big-leaved plants, on the bottoms of pots and beneath piles of lumber.
Now is the best time to take rose cuttings.
Sow seeds of California poppy.
Mulch citrus trees. Don't let mulch touch the trunk.
Plant sweet pea seeds for spring blooming. Soak seeds overnight in lukewarm water to hasten germination.