Ask Elaine: Plants for Autumn Interest

I have a redbud and native dogwood tree for spring flowers, and pots of annuals for summer color. What are some plants to add to my garden for autumn interest?


Dear Pam,

Yes, there should be more than one season of interest in the garden. Even winter can be beautiful in the garden.

Consider these fall-blooming perennials:

Asters, bluestar (Amsonia) and coreopsis (in pollinator garden in front of Education Greenhouse), chrysanthemums, Russian sage (Pond Perennial Garden), Japanese anemones (Hickory Hill), snakeroot, goldenrod, ornamental grasses (Back 40), Caryopteris (Fairway), glossy abelia, and plumbago (Ceratostigma), autumn crocus (Azalea Way) and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (1st Bridge).

Trees and shrubs may have flowers and many have flamboyant fall leaf color. Fall bloomers include Franklinia, crape myrtle (along Fairway), hydrangea ‘Tardiva(Hickory Hill, Dorothy’s Way, and near South Rock Garden), butterfly bush (Hickory Hill and Fairway) and seven-sons (Heptacodium – Vale Road parking lot, across from South Rock Garden).

Autumn fruit displays include purple-berried Callicarpa (Native Plant Garden and Easy Way), red-berried Pyracantha (South Rock Garden/Ridge Road area), sumac, hawthorn (across from Gazebo), winterberry holly, (Native Plant Garden and Brook Road), native holly (Native Plant Garden), and native and Asian dogwoods (Sensory Garden, across from Knippenberg Center). 

October is high foliage-coloration time at Laurelwood Arboretum. Find glorious fall foliage displays on sourwood (Oxydendrum – Native Plant Garden and South Lawn), gingko (Hickory Hill), black gum (Nyssa– Native Plant Garden), Enkianthus (Vale parking lot/Sensory Garden), witchhazel (Ridge Road), redbud (4th Bridge), birch trees (Native Plant Garden), Itea (Sensory Garden), and Fothergilla (Native Plant Garden).

Enjoy the crisp air, cooler nights and splendid autumn colors. It is a beautiful time of year.

All the best,
Elaine Fogerty, Executive Director

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