As the fall colors paint the trees this month, perhaps you wonder how to replicate their beauty in your back yard. And, because fall is the very best time to plant trees and shrubs, you can get a head start for next year.
Arborist and landscape designer Suzanne Brosche, co-owner of Art of Stone Gardening, has selected a half-dozen trees to consider. You can find these particular species at area tree-specialty nurseries, including Kinsey Family Farms in north Gainesville.
Trees with interesting bark
“The Lacebark Elm ‘Allee’ has beautiful bark that naturally peels to show vibrant shades of green, gray, orange and brown and creates a lovely texture,” Brosche said. “It’s a fast-growing shade tree that can reach heights of 40 to 60 feet.” This elm has arching branches on a vase-shaped tree and forms a rounded canopy. Give it plenty of room to grow and plant in full sun.
Maple trees come in too many varieties to count, but one that Brosche recommends is the Paperbark Maple. “The Paperbark Maple has peeling orange-cinnamon brown bark that adds winter interest to Southern landscapes,” she said. “With deep-green three-lobed leaves, the foliage turns bright red-orange in the fall.”
This maple, which ranges from 15 to 30 feet tall, is good for smaller landscape spaces and is very adaptable to Georgia climates.
Trees that bloom or have unusual leaves can be conversation starters in your landscape.
“The native crabapple is a show-stopper in the spring, is easy to grow and provides food for birds and wildlife with its small fruits,” Brosche said. “And best of all it’s a native plant, which means it thrives in our climate.”
The leaves emerge red in the spring and bloom with profuse pink flowers that are also fragrant. Its bark is colorful and scaly, and although it drops its leaves in the fall and winter, the bark remains to provide interest in the winter.
Ginkgo, with its delicate fan-shaped leaves, has grown on the planet for millions of years. Leaf fossils have been found that date back more than 270 million years. “Ginkgo is a survivor that can tolerate heat, air pollution and confined spaces,” she said. “It establishes easily in many settings and in the fall the leaves turn a beautiful lemon yellow. Be sure to plant only the male species; the female species yields fruit that drops in the winter and can be messy and pungent.”
Go native and help wildlife
Native trees are always winners in the landscape because, in addition to being adaptable, they are a natural way to create a habitat and food for birds and woodland animals.
“When it comes to natives that help the environment, black tupelo is a standout,” Brosche said. “Our honeybee population is threatened by encroachment, pollution and chemicals. By planting trees that support honeybees and are attracted to their blooms, you’re paying it forward for future generations. And bees, as pollinators, are responsible for 99 percent of our food supply.”
Black tupelo’s glossy dark green leaves in summer turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange, bright red, burgundy and purple in the fall. The bark looks like alligator hide.
Kousa dogwood is unusual because of its pointed four-petaled blossoms. Growing only 15 to 20 feet tall, it’s a good choice for a shady area beneath other trees. In the fall, the leaves turn deep red and reddish-purple.”
“While it’s not a native, it is much more tolerate of difficult growing conditions,” Brosche said. “It needs more sun than a native dogwood but thrives in our north Georgia acidic soils. The fruit resembles a cross between a raspberry and strawberry, but it is not edible for humans. Birds, however, love it and will flock to your yard in the fall and winter.”
For more info about trees, visit www.ArtofStoneGardening.com.