Fall Takes Root

Spring has earned its reputation as the time to plant, but fall is also a good time to add an eye-catching mix of cool-weather plants to any landscape. Flower and shrub species that thrive in warm days and cooler nights can take root now and establish a full year of growth to come. Thomas Rodler, president of Goldberg & Rodler, offers a few pointers for establishing an autumn garden.

Long Island Pulse: What can be planted now for the biggest pop of color in the fall?
Thomas Rodler:
Ornamental cabbages and kale are popular and I haven’t had a deer issue with them. Montauk daisies are beautiful white perennial flowers that last until frost while sedums have interesting pink to dark purple foliage and will flower in the fall. Bugbane has a tall white plume flower and tolerates shade. Fall flowering asters come in pink, blue or white. Purple to pink Joe-Pye weed flowers until frost and Russian sage has spikes of blue flower that last into fall… Some fall flowering trees are sourwood (white flowers), witch hazel (yellow to gold flowers) and the autumn flowering cherry tree, which gives brilliant pinkish-white color. The Japanese dogwood tree has a fruit center that becomes a very pronounced pinkish color in the fall. Planting in the fall, when irrigation is often reduced, sometimes requires supplemental watering to avoid stressing the plant before winter. A good rule of thumb is to give a new plant about one inch of water per week throughout the fall.

LIP: What shrubs grow in quickly to add privacy shortly after planting?
For a shady property, plant skip laurel or holly shrubs. By the water, try more native plants like bayberry shrubs, eastern red cedars and junipers that fill in nicely. For a sunny location, plant evergreens such as the dark green ‘Green giant’ western red cedar (arborvitae), the bluish-green white pine, with bluish-green needles and the silvery-blue Colorado blue spruce for their height and because they provide a natural-looking border. In the wintertime if your yard has a lot of wind I recommend applying an anti-transpirant or anti-desiccant spray to newly planted evergreens to protect them from drying out and burning.

LIP: What are some specimen tree options and where should they be planted in the front yard?
Be very selective where you place a specimen tree as it is just an accent. Put it in a prominent spot but treat it like a unique piece of sculpture. The weeping white pine noted for its shape grows 8 to 10 feet tall and weeps down with its soft bluish-green foliage. The bloodgood Japanese maple has dark red foliage that is very contrasting. The weeping Norway spruce has lush dense foliage. Chances are the tree will be shaped at the nursery you buy from, but when it comes time to prune next year, do it between the end of August and the end of November, so the wound has time to heal before winter.

words: Ruth Thomas | photo: Tracey Elizabeth