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Because it is a relative of the immensely popular burning bush (E. alatus), it isn't surprising that eastern wahoo has great fall color. This North American native grows as a small tree in the southern part of its range and as a large shrub on the Plains. The bright red of its fall foliage is amplified and extended by abundant clusters of scarlet fruits that persist after the leaves have fallen, providing color even into midwinter. Eastern wahoo is effective as an accent plant or when massed wherever a bold, surprising splash of color is desired.
Sunflowers are some of the easiest plants to start from seed. They are available in numerous cultivars which span the range of heights, flower colors, and form.
Blue holly, so named for the glossy blue-green leaves, is a dense, vigorous shrub that can reach 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Insignificant flowers bloom in late spring. Female plants have glossy red fruit. There are many cultivars available.
This plant is a suckering shrub or small tree with toothed, pointy, bright green leaves. It bears white flowers in spring, which are followed by spherical dark red to scarlet berries that persist through the winter. Some fruit ripens to yellow or orange.
Few shrubs offer flowers as late as this one, which starts blooming in late October or early November. The upright, 10- to 12-inch-wide flower clusters last until January or February, then give way to long strings of dark purple fruit that the birds devour. The evergreen foliage is so architectural, 'Charity' would be a spectacular shrub even if it didn't bloom. Some years, the leaves turn red, but instead of relying on it, consider it a pleasant surprise when it happens.
A Michelia hybrid, bred in New Zealand by Mark Jury, with beautiful lightly fragrant flowers blushed lilac pink and evergreen dark green foliage. It is ideal as a specimen shrub or as a hedge.
'Brilliantissima' rivals hollies (Ilex spp.) in the quantity and crimson color of its fruit. The quarter-inch-diameter, crab apple-like berries hang in clusters amid brilliant foliage that matures to scarlet. Like the species, this cultivar develops into a handsome, multistemmed, vase-shaped shrub that reaches 8 to 12 feet tall and about half as wide.
Lemon-lime foliage, fuzzy stems, and intense fall color make this sumac cultivar a standout. It grows into an upright, rounded form about 6 feet tall and as wide. New growth emerges chartreuse. Fall brings leaves of yellow, scarlet, and orange. Flowers are yellowish green and followed, on female plants, by hairy, dark red fruit. This plant spreads by suckers and can be invasive. The species is native to North America.
This climber produces an endless display of fragrant apricot-yellow blossoms. It grows to about 12 feet high and makes the perfect vertical accent in the garden.
A familiar native shrub, American elderberry is commonly seen along streambanks and roadsides and in moist woodlands and thickets throughout eastern North America. It has pinnate leaves with toothed leaflets and small white flowers borne in large flattened clusters in summer. Purple-black, round fruit comes next, attracting wildlife to the garden. Elderberries typically grow to about 12 feet high, but they tolerate pruning to a smaller size. Fruit is edible when cooked.
Black elder forms an upright and bushy, but somewhat coarse, shrub with toothed green leaves. It bears scented, flattened clusters of white flowers in early summer, which mature into glossy black fruit. It has given rise to many cultivars with notable foliage. Sambucus is a good choice for a quick growing shrub and is suitable for mixed or shrub borders or for naturalizing in wild areas. Birds love the fruits of this genus, which have culinary attributes when cooked, but can cause illness if eaten raw, or if the poisonous seeds are consumed. Contact with leaves may irritate skin.
This fragrant cultivar bears single rose-pink flowers in midseason, which often rebloom in late summer or autumn. It forms a shrub 6 feet high by 10 feet wide.
This plant produces a myriad of tiny white flowers set in wide, stalked flower heads. The white flowers appear in early summer, then mature to egg-shaped berries that turn from green to creamy-pink, deepening throughout the summer and ending in a blue-black hue in autumn. Plants grow 12-15 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
Blackhaw Viburnum is a large shrub or small tree with clusters of creamy white flowers followed by pink-rose berries, which birds love to eat. Its distinctive bronze-green foliage on reddish purple stems turns blue-black in the fall. Blackhaw grows to 12 to 15 feet high and 8 to12 feet wide.
This vigorous, coarsely textured evergreen shrub has an upright habit and 8-inch-long, lustrous, deeply veined oval leaves with dark blue-green surfaces and pale green undersides. The leaf stems are fuzzy brown. In spring, fragrant creamy-white flowers bloom in clusters. Blue berries form in June and become plump through September, maturing to glossy black. Plants grow 10-15 feet tall and wide.
While North American native viburnums occur most commonly in the eastern United States, rusty blackhaw viburnum flirts with the edge of the Plains. One of the most drought-tolerant species in the genus, rusty blackhaw viburnum has neither the showiest floral display nor heaviest fruit production. Still, its glossy, dark green, leathery foliage is reason enough to grow it; the rich burgundy tones of its fall foliage are icing on the cake.
This deciduous, rounded shrub grows to 15 feet tall with maple-like, lobed, dark green leaves that turn shades of red, yellow, and purple in autumn. White flowers resembling lace-cap hydrangeas bloom in spring and are followed by abundant red fruit loved by birds. Grow in a woodland garden or border, or as a wildlife plant.
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
A guide to growing, care, and propagation of rex begonias, plus some great cultivars
by Rita Randolph
PLANTING PLAN: A deer-resistant bed that shines in fall and winter
by Nancy Matthews
Q&A Economical edging for beds
by Kate Feely
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