Good trees for urban gardens: Overlooked trees for fall color

The month of October is so gorgeous with all the fall color.  The cooler weather helps it along.

We know about the color of maple trees whether it is Japanese maple or the Bowhall Maple which graces Main St. in downtown.

But some trees are overlooked.  One of these is the smoke tree (cotinus coggyria). There are many cultivars such as “Royal Purple,” but others such as “Pink Champagne” and “Grace” are overlooked.

They usually form a round tree that can reach 15 feet or 25 feet depending on the exposure and soil conditions.  The ‘American Smoke Tree’ (cotinus obovatus) makes a round form tree slowly growing to 25 feet. It has beautiful fall color.

Some tree-like shrubs also add beauty because of their blossoms, which bloom in the fall.  The camellia sasanqua is a great example of producing blooms when most trees and shrubs have very few blossoms.

“Apple Blossom” with its pink and white flowers is a great example of a fall blooming sasanqua.  ‘Yuletide’ with its red blossoms with a yellow center blooms a little later and its blossoms are more hardy.  Another beautiful one is the white “Setsugekka,” which grows in a bed south of the main building at the Edmonds Center for the arts. These fall blooming camellias are quite easy to grow with few problems.  Just be sure to add acid fertilizer to sasanquas in late spring and early summer which will help produce more blooms.  And be sure to water in the warmer days of the summer.

We in the Northwest are so lucky to have plants which have blossoms and leaves all   the year through.  Consider adding some plants to brighten your garden.

— By Barbara Chase

Barbara Chase is a Master Gardener who serves on the City of Edmonds Citizens Tree Board.


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