Fall Color Settling In Slowly

It’s been a warm fall. The days have been a bit warmer than normal. More important, the nights have not been nearly as cold, generally about 10 to 20 degrees (F) warmer than average.

Serviceberry 'Autumn Brilliance'
Serviceberry ‘Autumn Brilliance’

Weather is only one factor affecting fall color, I believe the shortening days are a bigger one. But I’ve got to think that this warm fall is one reason why it seems that more leaves are staying green late into the season.

So here it is the first weekend of November, and we are finally getting a decent amount of foliage color in our garden. Even so, some of the fall color stars still seem to be behind schedule.

Serviceberry autumn brilliance
Serviceberry ‘Autumn Brilliance’

As usual, Serviceberry ‘Autumn Brilliance’ (Amelanchier x grandiflora) is a seasonal star. The  little oval leaves seem to glow like red and orange jewels. I have six of these shrubs and sometimes I think I would fill the whole back garden with them if allowed.

Spicebush fall color
Spicebush fall color

The Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) leaves are falling, but are first turning a nice golden yellow. Spicebush blooms in early spring with tiny yellow flowers. The number of buds I can see now indicates a good display next April.

Summersweet fall color
Summersweet fall color

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) and Wild Black Currant (Ribes americanum) also have nice yellow autumn foliage. Wild Black Currant is one of my favorite native small shrubs.

Silver Maple
Silver Maple

In the middle of our back garden is a big old Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum). This tree’s greedy roots can be a real pain. However, it gives a pleasant dappled shade and the fall leaves are attractive.

Flowering Dogwood
My Flowering Dogwood, which I still consider to be a toddler

Among the plants that seem behind schedule for fall color are my new Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), just now finishing its second season in the back garden.

Cranberrybush Viburnum, Viburnum trilobum
Cranberrybush Viburnum fall color

Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) is also tardy. This shrub normally has deep red and maroon leaves in fall. It is just now starting to show color. I also have Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium), and it is not showing any color at all (except for green).

How has your autumn color been coming along this year?

50 Comments on “Fall Color Settling In Slowly

  1. We are driving from Maine to Texas and along the way we’ve seen it all, from past peak color to full color to just beginning to none at all. Amazing how different each part of the country is.

  2. We were thinking maybe the hot, dry summer made our autumn colours so wonderful this year. Seems your colour is coming along nicely though too – just a bit late. That Serviceberry really is a pretty shade in autumn.

    • Are the colors in Germany comparable to the USA? I have a sister-in-law who moved here from Spain and she insists that Americans go out at night and secretly paint all the trees.

      • 😀 I’ve never seen them in the US except in photos – certainly impressive, but maybe due to the volume of colour rather than the colour itself. Our region has mixed forests which creates a patchwork effect.

  3. Amelanchier is sold here as a fruit tree, do you eat the fruit? I’ve heard mixed views of how palatable it is. You are having some nice colour, nothing much at all here.

    • I have eaten the fruit – it is delicious, like blueberries with a hint of almond. However, almost all of the berries I leave for the birds.

  4. Oh, I hate silver maples! Even though they are native to my state, I consider them one of the worst trees ever – surface roots, helicopter seeds, branches that snap off in high winds. My neighbor across the street replaced some of his with a hybrid maple of some sort, which this year is a beautiful orange-y color. This hybrid does not have those creeping roots, and I think it does not produce helicopter seeds, but hopefully will grow fast.

    Your colors are a bit behind mine, which are also late for this area. The foliage around here is usually not much to look at, but this year it is absolutely stunning, especially all the red, red, RED burning bushes.

    • All of what you say about silver maples is true. And yet I like them anyway. Actually, the roots haven’t given me too much trouble, though the do tend to suck the ground dry.

  5. I am oohing and aahing at your serviceberries…I have one that is in the toddler stage and I think I planted it in too much shade. It doesn’t seem to do much of anything. Yours are beautiful! The leaves are peaking here and have been stunning this year. We actually had enough rain to keep the leaves on the trees into fall, instead of falling from drought.

    • Could be shade, but serviceberries are normally very shade tolerant. What’s missing – fall color, flowers, berries – or all three?

  6. Your garden color is looking pretty! Yes, fall color has been slow to come this year. This weekend just past we finally saw some brilliant color in western Maryland – ahhh, the reds and the yellows! I’ll have to consider getting a serviceberry – yours is such lovely soft ‘rusty peach’ color.

  7. Each autumn is different, for whatever the reasons that only the plants know. I love the clear yellow of spicebush — mine have all dropped now but they were pretty. And clethra surprised me that it can be a nice yellow too (I have the clethra and spicebush together in the same bed.) Your dogwood will one day be lovely in fall. Flowering dogwood takes a while, but when it is big and it gets fall color, the deep red is fantastic. Happy autumn!

    • Same to you, Laurrie! I have high hopes for that dogwood next year – I find the third year is often a turning point.

    • It is funny, you would think we would be well ahead of you in the autumn foliage department. Well, whenever it arrives, the main thing is to just enjoy.

    • Fall seems slow to arrive and doesn’t seem to be leaving in a hurry, so that’s a good thing. I wonder what it will be like by Thanksgiving.

  8. Aha! I kept seeing these beautiful small trees in town this weekend…and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what they were…but seeing your photos, I know they were definitely Serviceberry! They are gorgeous plants…so lovely! Our Autumn color has been unusually intense this year…we had a dry and cool October and that made such a difference…but I agree…there are so many factors that seem to determine fall color…even the amount the plants were stressed during summer plays a role…it’s always exciting to see just what each Autumn holds 🙂

  9. It is an odd year, our dogwood is bare, yet the silver maple is just turning colors now. You do still have a lot of green around.
    We had a lame fall. Many plants lost leaves early due to drought and then only half heartedly colored up when the cool nights came. I guess it makes you appreciate the good years more.

    • A wise way to look at it. For myself, I prefer to deal with disappointing fall color, and all disappointments actually, by sulking.

  10. You still have so much color in your garden! My serviceberry’s leaves all turn yellow. Actually, after this past weekend’s storm, they have all blown away. There are a few maples in parking lots still holding onto their very colorful leaves, but most of the rest are gone, gone, gone.

    • It’s been a windy day today, I think a lot of the leaves will be coming down here in the next few days.

  11. Ours came early this year and except for beeches and a few oaks, the leaves have fallen. I think more people should use native shrubs in their gardens as you do. Not only are they beautiful, but tough as well.

  12. Our fall colour is now white! Plenty of snow fell here this weekend, and it looks like it’s here to stay. Your garden is gorgeous; so happy to see that you’re having great fall weather there.

  13. We had brilliant color for a few days, and now the leaves are dropping fast! Unfortunately, several of the days with brilliant color were cloudy and rainy, so we didn’t get the full effect. The Oaks are all on different schedules, of course, but this autumn seems more drawn out than others and not quite as colorful. I haven’t checked the Cranberrybush Viburnum–thanks for reminding me!

    • The weather was very overcast when these pictures were taken so things were not at their best. I agree that autumn is feeling drawn out.

  14. You have some majestic trees in your garden. May I ask how big is your garden? And a warm fall in Chicago? What’s happening? Here in northern NJ, we have been having freezing or almost like that temperature since middle of October and earlier.

  15. Some lovely autumn colours there Jason. I do love the leaves, until they fall….then it takes me months to clear the leaves.xxxx

  16. You really have some gorgeous fall color, it took a bit but we were also able to get to a really beautiful show this year. I really appreciated the very thorough plant id information; it really helps when you are trying to determine the next direction for your own garden.

  17. Color hear has really kicked in, but the temp tomorrow is 65°. We still have not been getting very cool weather, even at night. East of us had a nice hoar frost, I am a bit jealous of that.

    • I think we have had actual frost only twice, which is unusual here for early November. But like I said, the nights just haven’t been cold.

  18. I love the serviceberry! In fact, I’m thinking of planting one to provide some filtered light on my patio. I would like it to get about 15′ feet tall. Beautiful beginnings to your fall show.

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