Moving into Fall and Winter

October can be a wonderful time in the garden. While the glories of summer may be behind us, it does not mean the end of color and interest in the garden. There are shrubs and trees that offer fall leaf color ranging from butter yellow, to orange, to glorious red. Many reveal interesting architecture and exfoliating bark when their leaves drop, drawing your attention throughout the winter. Others have berries that add vibrant color to the landscape. Here are some options to explore which will create fall and winter interest in the landscape.


Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance’ (Serviceberry)

This variety of our native Serviceberry lives up to its name. Its young leaves are bronze, mature to green, and turn brilliant orange and red in the autumn, all on multiple upright, highly branched stems, forming a small multi-stemmed tree. ‘Autumn Brilliance’ has spectacular 5-petaled, showy and slightly fragrant white flowers that are larger than those of other Amelanchiers. They appear in early spring in drooping clusters (racemes) before the leaves emerge. The flowers are at first tinged with pink, later fading to white. They give way to small round green berries which turn red and finally mature to a dark purplish black in the early summer. The edible berries are sweet and often used in jams, jellies and pies. The birds will find them as attractive as you do, so you may have to decide whether you will get more pleasure from your homemade jam or having feathered friends drawn to you garden.

Azalea (deciduous): When we think of azaleas, we tend to think of the evergreen azaleas that are staples in front yard plantings. Less well known are the deciduous azaleas. They are more upright in habit and tend to bloom a little later than the evergreen varieties, but are well worth the wait. Whether you choose a pink, yellow or orange flowering variety, they are highly fragrant. As autumn approaches, the leaves turn glorious shades of red, orange and yellow.
Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet): This native shrub is a late summer bloomer, producing fragrant, narrow upright panicle-shaped flowers in white or pink that are a magnet for butterflies and bees. An upright shrub, it performs well in sun or part shade. It grows in regular garden conditions and can also be used in moist spots. Its glossy, dark green leaves turn warm yellow in the autumn. ‘Ruby Spice’ has fragrant, deep pink flowers and grows 4’-6’ high and wide. ‘Hummingbird’ is a more compact growing variety at 3’-4’ and has fragrant, long-lasting white flowers. It is a great option for smaller gardens.
Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo’ (Red twig Dogwood):

This is one of the most versatile shrubs for the residential landscape. It is happy in conditions ranging from full sun to the shade of a north facing garden. Light green leaves have an ivory margin (hence the variety name), and blow in even the slightest breeze. It complements whatever is planted next to it and will light up a shady garden. When the leaves drop, its many bright red stems stand out against the snow or against the foundation of your house. ‘Ivory Halo’ grows 4’ high and wide.

Cornus sericea ‘Arctic Fire’ (Red osier Dogwood): This is a compact selection which has dark red winter stems. It grows 3’-4’ feet tall and wide.

Enkianthus (Red Vein Enkianthus): This is a lovely shrub that deserves wider use in the residential landscape. It is an upright deciduous shrub that grow 6’-8’ tall and 3’-4’ wide in time. It has tiny, bell- shaped nodding flowers that look like lily-of- the-valley flowers. They are creamy white to pale pink with slim red stripes and edges. The small leaves are bluish-green and are grouped at the branch tips. The overall effect is one of great delicacy. It is hard to imagine that such a delicate looking shrub can become such a riot of color in the fall. Leaves offer red, orange and yellow tones that are absolutely beautiful.


This slow-growing deciduous shrub has fragrant white, bottlebrush-like flowers that appear in early spring. Some people describe the flowers as honey-scented. The unusually shaped leaves are rounded at the base and have slightly pointed edges from the mid-point to the tip. The show really takes off in fall when leaves turn shades of yellow, orange and red. Fothergilla gardenia is referred to as dwarf Fothergilla, growing 2’-3’ tall and wide. ‘Mt Airy’ is a hybrid of two species and grows 3’-5’ tall and wide. ‘Blue Shadow’ is similar to’ Mt. Airy’ but has beautiful powder blue foliage. ‘Blue Mist’ is a more compact variety, growing 2’-3’, with the same intense blue foliage. Fothergilla will grow happily in full sun to moderate shade.

Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea): This multi-stemmed deciduous shrub is unlike the familiar hydrangea. Flowers are upright 12” long pyramidal panicles that open white and age to tones of pink and red. Large leaves resemble oak leaves in shape and turn a beautiful mahogany color in autumn. The cinnamon colored bark exfoliates, creating wonderful winter interest.

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry):

This shrub is native to the eastern United States. It produces bright red berries that persist throughout the winter (hence the common name) and often into early spring. It grows in full sun to part shade. Female forms such as ‘Red Spite’ require a male pollinator such as ‘Jim Dandy’ in order to produce the red berries. There is nothing like these showy berries to add a pop of welcome color in the depths of winter.

Itea (Sweetspire):

This is a lovely deer resistant native shrub that produces loads of long, pendulous white flowers that remain attractive through summer. It is a rounded shrub with gently arching branches. The bright green leaves of summer turn wonderful shades of red and orange in the autumn. ‘Henry’s Garnet’ grows 4’ tall while ‘Little Henry’ grows just 3’ tall.

Viburnum: There are many varieties of Viburnum, all of which offer interesting flowers, berries, leaf texture and beautiful red to mahogany colored foliage in the autumn. ‘Brandywine’ is one example, offering pink and blue berries, followed by glossy dark red to maroon fall foliage.


Deciduous Trees: Deciduous trees drop their leaves in the autumn. While we value their summer leaves and the shade they provide, they are to be valued for other features. Many offer beautiful bark and elegant architecture which enhances the autumn and winter landscape. Here are a few to consider:

Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple): This maple has slender upright branches. Its soft green leaves turn shades of orange and scarlet in fall. It becomes more distinctive and elegant with age, as its papery sheets of bark peel back to reveal cinnamon-brown new bark. This tree makes a lovely specimen in any landscape, including today’s smaller home landscape.

Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple):

Japanese maples are lovely and distinctive small trees for the home landscape. The varieties are almost infinite and all produce wonderful fall color, including shades of yellow, orange, red and bronze. They do best with some shade as full sun conditions can burn leaf edges.

Acer rubrum (Red Maple): Our beloved red maples add a rich dimension to the autumn landscape. Rubrum, meaning red, is in evidence everywhere: red flowers, red fruit, red stems and twigs, red buds and in fall, red and orange toned foliage. ‘October Glory’ is a variety that provides exceptional fall color.
Betula nigra ‘Heritage’ (Heritage River Birch): This fast-growing deciduous tree, often grown in a clump of 3 stems, provides a sense of airiness to the landscape with its tall canopy that moves in the wind. The green leaves of spring and summer turn warm yellow in the fall. It features salmon-cream to brownish bark which exfoliates to reveal a creamy white inner bark, providing wonderful winter interest.
Cercidiphylum japonium (Katsura Tree): This deciduous shade tree has a dense, rounded habit and is grown for its beautiful shape, shaggy bark and attractive heart shaped leaves. The color, too, is exceptional. The leaves emerge reddish purple in spring, mature to medium green with a slight bluish tinge in summer and turn wonderful shades of gold, orange and red in the fall. The fallen autumn leaves have been varyingly described as smelling of cinnamon, burnt sugar or ripe apples. This unusual shade tree truly has multi-season interest.

Cornus florida and Cornus kousa (Dogwood): Dogwoods are small, understory trees that offer multiple seasons of interest. Cornus florida varieties such as ‘Cherokee Chief’, ‘Cherokee Brave’ and ‘Cherokee Princess’ bloom in early spring before the leaves appear. Cornus kousa varieties such as ‘Milky Way’ flower a month later, after their leaves have appeared. No matter your choice, the deep pink, red and purple tones of the autumn foliage add tone and dimension to the landscape.

Gingko biloba ‘Autumn Gold’ (Maindenhair Tree): This lovely tree has unique fan-shaped green foliage that turns brilliant golden yellow in fall. Its symmetrical branching creates an exceptional upright landscape accent, and it becomes a handsome shade tree with age. Interestingly, it is the only surviving member of a group of ancient plants believed to have inhabited the earth up to 150 million years ago.

Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’ (Tupelo): One of the most beautiful native trees of North America, this variety has excellent pyramidal form that displays brilliant, neon red fall color. It is one of the most stunning autumn foliage choices. The new spring growth is orange-red, changing to glossy green as it matures. Winter interest comes from its strong branching structure and dark bark, creating a stunning silhouette.

Prunus (Flowering Cherry): Whether you choose the spectacular show of double flowered pink blossoms on pendulous branches of the Weeping Higan Cherry, or the pure white cloud of delicate flowers of the Yoshino Cherry, or the large ruffled pink flowers of the Kwanzan Cherry, you will have a beautiful spring show. And it is worth noting that the foliage of Cherry trees turns a warm yellow color in autumn.

Stewartia pseudocamellia: This is a small, slow-growing, pyramidal deciduous tree. It has showy cup- shaped flowers with orange-yellow centers, similar in appearance to camellia flowers. The green foliage turns attractive shades of reddish-orange and burgundy in autumn. The bark of the Stewartia is extraordinary. It exfoliates, showing colors of reddish-brown, grey and orange, providing winter color, texture and interest.

The Value of Evergreens: New England has a rich and beautiful community of conifers and evergreen plants which provide welcome color and structure in the garden in the depths of winter. They offer sculptural and architectural qualities and serve as the backdrop to other plantings. In addition, they offer protection for birds. One of winter’s joys is to watch the activity at a birdfeeder placed near a conifer, as the birds alternately perch on the branches and swing over to the feeder. Bird baths and pieces of sculpture also offer points of interest in the winter landscape.



There are a surprising number of perennials that bloom into the fall season. Here are a few to consider.
Aconitum (Monk’s Hood)
Amsonia hubrectii
Anemone (Japanese Anemone) ‘Honorine Jobert’, ‘September Charm’
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Plumbago)
Chelone (Turtlehead)
Geranium ‘Rozanne’
Ornamental Grasses
Note: Not all perennials have to be cut back in the fall. Think of the plants that have interesting texture or have seeds that can attract birds to your yard, such as Echinacea (coneflowers), Rudbeckia (Black eyed Susan), Sedum, ornamental grasses and sunflowers.

Now in: Pumpkins & Gourds

We’re receiving weekly shipments of traditional pumpkins and unique gourds. Find varieties like “Cinderella” pumpkins, “Autumn Wings” gourds, “Flat White Boer” pumpkins and “Blue Hubbard” squash…just to name a few!

A MUST READ: Watering Wisdom

When we talk about the importance of newly planted trees and shrubs becoming “established” in the garden, we are referring to the development of a healthy root system. This root system is the basis for the plant’s top growth and long term health. And water is the key ingredient in developing that root system.  For the first two years of its life in your garden, the tree and its roots are particularly sensitive to water deficits. As the tree matures, its roots reach deeper into the ground and are able to tap water sources there. 

New shrubs and trees will require supplemental watering throughout the first growing season, right up to the onset of winter, and again in the second growing season. Water needs to be applied in the form of a gentle and deep soaking, down to the bottom and around the entire circumference of the root ball. Importantly, plants will require this watering at least once a week, and oftentimes twice a week in order to prevent any part of the root system from drying out.  

How much water a plant needs depends on its size. A small shrub will need 2-3 gallons of water each time it is watered. A larger shrub, 3-5 gallons. A small tree will need 5-8 gallons.  Mid-sized and larger trees, correspondingly more.   


Water can be delivered in several different ways: 

  • A garden hose turned on at a slow trickle and set near the base of the tree or shrub should be moved around the tree so that the circumference is equally watered.  
  • If you enjoy the peace and quiet of the garden, holding a watering wand attached to the end of a hose is a pleasant and effective way to water plant material. Allow the water to form a large puddle under the first tree or shrub. Move to a second tree or shrub and form a puddle there. As you are working with the second tree or shrub, the first puddle will be soaking into the soil. Move back and forth between these trees and shrubs 3 or 4 times to ensure a deep soaking.  
  • Soaker hoses can be placed around the base of trees and shrubs in concentric circles to cover the root mass circumference, or wound in a serpentine pattern up and down a row of newly planted trees and shrubs. They can be set on a timer and left to run for several hours depending on the size of the plant material. 
  • Traditional sprinkler systems are intended for watering lawns or beds with annuals and perennials. They are not the best way to water new trees and shrubs because they do not allow for sufficiently deep watering. It is recommended that you supplement with any of the methods described above. It is worth noting that systems are available that utilize special drip lines and emitters that allow for longer watering cycles. 


Two watering strategies that will not serve your plants well: 

  • Watering frequently but lightly does not benefit the tree or shrub as it encourages root development at the surface, making the roots particularly vulnerable to drying out in times of water deficit.  
  • Keeping a plant in soaking wet conditions day after day will deplete the oxygen in the soil, not a good thing for any life form! Hence the need for deep watering followed by a period in which the soil is allowed to dry out.  

New England experienced drought conditions in 2015 and 2016. The spring rains of 2017 were certainly welcome and while the official drought designation has been lifted, our trees and shrubs, even established ones, may still be feeling the effects of the drought. Parts of their root systems may have died back and it can take some time for the effect of that to be seen in the top growth. By providing supplemental watering we can encourage new root growth and mitigate the long-term drought damage. 

Even as night time temperatures cool and the grass is moist with dew in the morning, it is important to keep up your program of supplemental watering.  Scientific data indicates that plants need one inch of rainfall per week throughout their lifetime. While we can hope for a soaking rain every week, it is not something we can rely on, so it falls to us to be good stewards of our landscapes. 

What’s In Store: September 15, 2017

We’re filled to the brim with fall color! Mums, asters, ornamental cabbage, kale, and many late-blooming perennials are now in to refresh your window boxes and patio planters. It’s the best time to shop our incredible selection of Spring flowering bulbs too! Plant now and enjoy in the Spring- daffodils, tulips and more! Plus, our nursery yards are loaded with fresh trees and shrubs… it’s the best time of year to plant!

What’s In Store: September 7, 2017

Autumn is upon us and that means we’re loading up with truckloads of fresh plants daily! Visit our nursery for beautiful new trees, shrubs and perennials! Take a peek at our special on 3 Gallon Ornamental Grasses: Only $19.50! (reg $29.98). Our greenhouses are filling up with hues of orange, yellow, reds and purples to decorate the doorstep with lovely fall color. Spring flowering bulbs are now in too– plant now for spring blooming daffodils, tulips and more. Plus, check out our garden shop for festive fall decor to refresh the home!

Simple Tips for Designing and Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

Bulbs are the gateway to the garden. Plant them now and forget about them. By the time spring rolls around, the garden will be full of buds ready to blossom. And, with cooler temperatures, fall is the best season for planting. Whether you’re beginning a garden for the first time or tending an old one, planting flower bulbs has never been easier. Bulbs are a fantastic way to start or maintain a garden because they spring back up each year without any effort. But the key is to plant them correctly now. Don’t worry! The hardest part is deciding which flowers and a color scheme to use.

bulb-tonePlanting Bulbs

Planting the bulbs is simple. Follow the steps below to create a flawless garden.

  1. Dig a hole 3-4 times deeper than the bulb height.
  2. Set bulbs firmly in place, following spacing guidelines.
  3. Sprinkle in a fertilizer made for bulbs such as Espoma’s Bulb Tone
  4. Cover with soil.
  5. Water thoroughly.

Design ideas

Remember when planting bulbs, plant more than you think you need and avoid the temptation to plant in single rows.

  • For the most natural look, group them in a pyramid, rectangle or circular shape.
  • For a camouflaged look, plant low bulbs in front of high. As the high ones die back, the low will cover the dying foliage.
  • For a layered look, plant small bulbs in the same hole as large bulbs.
  • For an entire spring of color, stagger bloom time by planting early, mid and late-season varieties together.

Flower bulbs are a low-maintenance way to expand or start a garden and create a stunning look year-after-year. You’ll be amazed at the beautiful array of color that pops up in the spring.

Buy spring flower bulbs now to prepare for the upcoming fall-planting season.

What’s In Store: September 2, 2017

We’re welcoming fall with a color palette fit for season. Mums, cabbage, kale, grasses, and many cold-tolerant annuals are arriving daily perfect for refreshing your window boxes and patio planters!

A Big Thank You

Today was an incredible day. We are so grateful and humbled by the acts of kindness from our customers, employees and many local residents. In just 24 hours, we collected an unbelievable amount of donations for Boston’s ‘Help for Houston’ drive. We trekked into City Hall this afternoon and delivered 2 box trucks and a van’s worth of diapers, formula, food, clothing + toiletries– all headed for Houston tomorrow. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Refresh your Window Boxes and Planters with Fall Color

It’s the perfect time of year to refresh your tired summer window boxes and patio planters with fall color. Now arriving daily- mums, cabbage, kale, and cold-tolerant annuals in festive hues that will take you through the fall season.