If I had to rank household tasks from easy to downright dreadful, raking leaves would be near the top of my pain in the "you know what" project list. But as much as I cower at the thought of autumn clean up, I must say that the beautiful display of colors from the trees makes this seasonal task just a little bit more pleasant. If only those changing leaves would stay on the trees just a little while longer!
This got me thinking, what if we could enjoy the beautiful colors of fall for more time during the year with less raking and maintenance? With that being said, I have put together a list of my favorite plants and shrubs that offer the look and feel of autumn from spring to the first snow.
This is one of my favorites for its vibrant red leaves that stay bright for three seasons of the year. The Japanese maple is a smaller tree, growing between two and 30 feet tall depending on the variety, but it requires a low level of maintenance (preferring full sun to partial shade) and adds a lot of color to any property.
This tree blooms early in the spring with bright pink and purple flowers and then transforms through the summer with the appearance of green, tulip-shaped leaves. In the autumn, the leaves turn a nice golden color, making it a real horticultural chameleon with a lot of personality. The tree, which can grow to around 30 feet, even produces bold buds on its trunk and structural branches.
My daughter tells me that this shrub is dual functioning as the bark from its stems and roots are extracted and distilled into many popular natural facial toners. But besides its skincare benefits, witch hazel also offers dazzling yellow leaves and flowers that produce a pleasingly spicy scent from October through December.
With a name like that, you won’t be surprised to find this flowering plant sprouting with fire red leaves that will add a real pop of color to your shrubbery from spring to fall. A word to the wise on this one though – its aggressive growth tendencies actually put it on the list of prohibited plants in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, so you’ll want to keep it well contained.
This one is my wife’s favorites. You might see kale on menus in restaurants all over town, but the vegetable also looks great in the garden and can be used to add loads of color to pots, on porches, and anywhere else around the yard. Kale is one of many cousins in the cabbage family and its green, white and purple leaves have serious staying power – even peeking through after the first winter frost.
This variety of plants, trees, and shrubs is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of keeping fall colors in your yard all year long. What are your favorite autumn-hued plant picks? I'd love to hear from you. Drop me an email or send me a message on Facebook at www.facebook.com/odonnellbros.
Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.