From the Sperry Garden – October, 2007

These two photos are garden-fresh, taken within the last 5 days. This has been the best year I’ve seen for fall color in the 35 years I’ve lived in the Metroplex. Part of that is because of the prolonged drought we’ve been encountering in our part of Texas. We missed the impact of the storms that hit East Texas, also the rain event that came up through West Texas. Our plants are dry, and, under that struggle, many have colored up beautifully. We also had a near-freeze a few weeks ago and that just added to their beauty.

Tips to Great Fall Color:

Start with plants with potential to turn. Red oaks have been sensational this year. Japanese maples show in my photos. They’re the small, red-leafed trees. Chinese pistachios, red maples, dogwoods, ornamental pears, oakleaf hydrangeas and sweetgums all turn bright shades of red, as do vines Boston ivy and Virginia creeper. Many crape myrtle varieties turn red, while some turn bright yellow. Ginkgoes are incredibly yellow as are most ash and elm species.

Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers from late September on if you hope to have nice fall color. Nitrogen promotes stem and leaf growth, and that can keep the plants vegetative too late into the fall.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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