As we enter November and the mums finish flowering, fall may feel bittersweet. Bitter in the sense that winter is approaching and sweet with the delicious aromas of pumpkin spices, wood smoke and hot apple cider. Fall is a great time to witness local foliage change from green to rich, vibrant hues of purple, red, orange and gold.
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) is the New York state tree and shows off its beautiful red color in mid to late October. The bark on a Sugar Maple is dark grey and exfoliates (peels away) on older trees. 20% of New York State forest is Sugar Maple and this native staple tree is an icon for New York, especially this time of year.
A brilliant yellow fall color shows up on the Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) which is native to China. It is considered a living fossil as it has no close living relatives in the species and is similar only to extinct species found in the fossil record. They’ve been around since the dinosaurs walked the earth and can live for hundreds of years. They make excellent street trees, as long as you plant the male form. The female form’s fruits have quite a noxious odor.
A beautiful small tree specimen is Witch-Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). A New York native, Witch-Hazel is an ideal plant for wet or dry conditions and perfect for your fall and winter landscape. If you can see a Witch-Hazel, you’ll notice yellow flowers hiding among lush yellow leaves. The flowers have an aroma quintessential of fall and have an abstract shape. Witch-Hazel can grow up to 12’ tall and is a unique specimen for your landscape. Related to the Witch-Hazel is a shrub called Fothergilla. The Dwarf Fothergilla is an excellent native shrub for the landscape and the fall color is striking.
A trailing plant that shows brilliant red color in the fall is Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). Don’t be frightened by this bright red vine that looks like poison ivy. There is a noticeable difference if you can recognize the distinguishable characteristics. For example, Virginia Creeper has 5-7 compound leafs that are always toothed (serrated edges) while poison ivy has only 3 leafs and with only a few teeth or none at all. Another discernible difference is the bark on Virginia Creeper, which appears to be woody. It is important to be wary when you see Virginia Creeper, it almost always grows alongside poison ivy. Ironically, poison ivy has a beautiful fall color (reds, purples, and yellow) but we can skip that one in the landscape!
Hurry up and get outside for an autumn stroll, and witness your fall foliage in magnificent colors. Goldberg and Rodler’s experienced staff is always working to bring you up to date information, ideas, and assistance with your seasonal landscape. At Goldberg & Rodler, we are experts in landscape maintenance, so when that big leaf drop happens, don’t hesitate to contact us for your fall cleanup this year.
Written by Nick Onesto