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Colorful fall in your yard

There are several larger shrubs, generally with reddish fall color. An exception is summersweet with generally yellow leaves. For purplish red leaves in fall, consider the chokeberry with the cultivar 'Brilliantissima' turning scarlet. Also purplish-red in fall are red-osier dogwood and some viburnums such as the native nannyberry, blackhaw, and American cranberrybush. Korean spice viburnum turns burgundy. Vanhoutte spirea, and in particular the cultivar 'Renaissance', turns an orange-red.

Many of these shrubs have multi-season interest. In particular, deciduous (losing their leaves in winter) rhododendrons such as the northern lights series from Minnesota have red fall colors in addition to their colorful early season flowers. Red osier dogwood has reddish-purple fall leaves followed by bright red twigs in winter.

There are many trees to consider for fall color, other than maples. For small trees under about 25 to 35 feet tall, red fall leaves are seen on shadbush, hawthorns, and the native shining sumac. Other sumacs, as well as mountainash, turn various colors of red, orange, and yellow. The native American hornbeam turns red in sun and yellow in shade.

Many of the colorful large trees turn variations of yellow including yellowwood, American beech (a yellowish bronze), ash (a reddish yellow), ginkgo, honeylocust, larch (looks like a conifer but loses its leaves in winter), quaking aspen, golden weeping willow, and elms. For dark red colors in large trees consider some of the oaks such as the white, swamp white, scarlet, shingle, pin, and red oak. Some of the other oaks' leaves aren't particularly showy in fall. One of the few hardy flowering cherries for the north, the Sargent cherry, turns yellow to red.

If you happen to live in a slightly warmer area, such as USDA zone 5 (-10 to -20 degrees F in winter), your palette to choose from for fall color in woody plants will be increased. More choices, and information on particular plants, can be found in references such as "Landscape Plants for Vermont" and "The Homeowner's Complete Tree and Shrub Handbook."

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