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This slow-growing understory tree has highly ornamental, peeling orange-cinnamon bark. Its dark green, three-lobed leaves turn a brilliant orange-red in autumn.
Full-moon maple has deeply lobed leaves, crimson autumn color, and plenty of small, reddish flowers in spring. It can be grown as a small tree or multi-stemmed shrub. Its growth habit is mounded, bushy, and spreading. The cultivar name 'Aconitifolium' refers to the fact that its ferny foliage resembles that of monkshood (Aconitum). This beautiful tree makes a great specimen plant and is very hardy.
If your shade garden needs a focal point, consider this small, rounded Japanese maple, with its lime-to-chartreuse-tinged golden leaves. In fall, its leaves turn orange and red, just like those of a sugar maple. This variety, like other small Japanese maples, needs shade and protection from sun and drying winds to keep the foliage from curling and turning brown at the edges. -Michael Ruggiero, Regional Picks: Mid-Atlantic, Fine Gardening issue #127
This broadly columnar to spreading tree has peeling brown bark, three-palmate mid-green leaves, and brilliant orange-red fall foliage. It grows up to 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide.
Compact and rounded, the Shantung maple reaches a mature height and spread of 25 feet by 30 feet. The leaves grow to 5 inches long and have five to seven lobes, resembling the leaves of the Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). Leaves emerge purple in spring and become glossy and medium green during the growing season. In autumn, the starry leaves blaze into shades of yellow and orange, accented by reds and purples. Samara (fruit) are red.
A large shrub or small tree, Albizia julibrissin is native to Iran to Japan. It is a fast-growing plant whose seedlings can become invasive. It can be seen growing in the wild in the southeastern U.S. and California in waste places, fields, and along roads.
However, its bipinnate, ferny leaves and fluffy pink flowerheads that cover the tree in summer make it a garden-worthy plant, as do the fragrance emitted by the flowers, which attract bees. Seed pods that resemble flat beans follow the flowers and persist into winter. Still, care should be used so that seeds from garden plants can't escape into the wild.
This shrubby tree has leaves that emerge bronze, mature green, and fade to orange and red in autumn. It bears 3-inch-long racemes of white flowers in spring, followed by edible, juicy blue-black fruit.
The textural quality of this eastern native's stems and foliage is superb. During winter, a circle of the thorn-covered stems is as magical as an outdoor sculpture. Dark blue-green compound leaves offer a tropical effect before turning yellow and purple in autumn. One-foot-wide flower clusters sit atop the foliage in summer and transform into purple-black fruits that attract birds. Aralia spinosa grows to 30 feet tall and spreads indefinitely.
This golden-leaved version of the southern paper mulberry can be treated as a cutback shrub to control size and for best production of brilliant golden yellow, large, lobed leaves. Or it can be allowed to grow into a small- to medium-sized tree. It's a most desirable garden plant and looks fabulous with deep blue salvias.
This small tree from China can reach a little over 20 feet tall and about half as wide. It blooms in winter or early spring, bearing single white flowers that are fragrant. Grow this elegant shrub in a border or woodland garden, as a specimen, or in a container.
This deciduous small tree initially has a pyramidal form, and later rounded. Cercis-like, opposite, heart-shaped blue-green leaves are borne on stiff, slender, pendulous branches that fan out from the crown and sweep the ground. Caramel-scented foliage emerges bronze or purple-red, turns blue-green, then fades to gold or apricot in autumn. Tiny red flowers emerge in late March or early April before the leaves.
Small white flowers appear in profusion on leafless branches in early spring. Heart-shaped leaves emerge bronze, turning green, then yellow in autumn. Another white-flowered selection, 'Royal', has slightly larger blooms and more compact growth.
In early spring, 'Forest Pansy' awakens with a long-lasting profusion of bright purplish-pink blooms borne in clusters, before the leaves, along smooth gray branches. Its heart-shaped, blood-red leaves are finely veined and glossy when young, slowly turning a dark, purple-tinged green in full sun. Autumn foliage is a bouquet of reds, purples, oranges, and yellows. The plant's graceful branching structure stands out in winter.
Bright purplish-pink blooms are borne in clusters, before the leaves, along smooth gray branches. Heart-shaped leaves emerge bronze, turning green, then yellow in autumn. Cultivars are available with white ('Royal White') or pink flowers ('Tennessee Pink'), purple foliage ('Forest Pansy'), and weeping form ('Covey'). Grows 15 to 25 feet tall with a slightly wider spread.
This species is grown for its billowy clusters of fragrant white blossoms, which appear in May or June. The erect clusters are more substantial than C. virginicus, and open at the same time as the leaves. Female specimens produce blue-black fruits in autumn.
This North American native is unrivaled in beauty for its pendulous and diaphanous clusters of fragrant white blossoms, which appear in May or June. The individual blossoms are made up of four petals that dangle from threadlike stems in great silken clusters. The leaves are late to emerge in the spring, and this species flowers before leafing out. Female specimens produce blue-black fruits in autumn.
'Purple Tower' is a cultivar of the New Zealand native cabbage tree, frequently grown in greenhouses, as houseplants, or as large accent plants outdoors. It is hardy to Zone 10. The narrow, plum-purple leaves reach 3 feet long. The fragrant white flowers are small, but they are borne in large panicles in spring and early summer on mature plants. Plants grown in containers only rarely flower, however. Young plants are often sold as houseplants. Mature specimens have thick trunks with foliage at the top, resembling a palm tree. They are striking container specimens and can be plugged into a summer border. The species has naturalized in portions of California and the southern U.S.
This plant owes its name to its distinctive layered branches, which resemble the tiered, spreading roofline of an elaborate pagoda. Pagoda dogwoods are especially striking when accented by masses of small, fragrant creamy white flowers in early summer. Small, round fruits ripen to a deep blue-purple in late summer.
This native flowering tree is best known for its early spring blossoms, which are actually yellowish green flowers clustered in the center of four showy, white to pink bracts 1-1/2 to 2 inches long. Clusters of four bright red fruits mature in early fall, often persisting into the beginning of winter.
A native of Korea and Japan, Kousa dogwood makes an excellent landscape tree and offers a long season of interest. Beginning in early summer, white bracts in sets of four (sometimes with pink tinges) surround tiny green flowers. These are followed by reddish fruit that resembles raspberries and attracts birds. Autumn color is a deep reddish purple. This species is resistant to dogwood anthracnose and has good cold hardiness. Grow as a specimen plant or in a woodland setting. It can be grown as a tree or large, multi-stemmed shrub.
Alliums All Season Long
Deer resistant and dynamic, these bulbs provide color from the first showers of spring to the last leaves of fall
by Stephanie Cohen
Find out what all the buzz is about by planting these colorful perennials
by Sally Roth
10 Shrubs for Summer Color
These vibrant bloomers give even the showiest annuals and perennials a run for their money
by Paul Cappiello
Enchanting Japanese Maples
Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
by Francie Schroeder
Q&A Moving houseplants outdoors for the summer
by Tim Pollak
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