by Lisa Watters-Lain, Arizona’s garden gal
Not all trees are created equal when it comes to autumn colors, and this is their season. Autumn is also the ideal planting window for trees and tall shrubs.
You will find increased garden success when plants are showing their colors. The days are crisp, and the soil warm so plants start with a burst of new root growth.
Most properties don’t have many trees. You can count on one hand the number of trees in the average landscape. But, trees stand out in any yard like anchors that bring together the foundation of a good plan. Also, don’t forget that trees increase the value of your landscape more than spas and grills.
Don’t waste money by cutting corners. Trees are where the landscape value is and no place to pinch pennies. Buy the best-looking tree you can find, bigger-is-better. Nice looking trees at the garden center turn into big, bold specimens as they mature. An ugly tree only gets bigger and more obnoxious as it grows.
Cut landscape dollars on shrubs, flowers and hedges so your budget can afford a few specimen-sized trees to enhance your outdoors. Below are the show-offs of fabulous fall foliage.
Prescott Blaze Maple — a very fast-growing shade tree blazed in reds and oranges through autumn. It produces a tall narrow tree with ascending branches more resistant to wind and storm damage. Widely used as a street tree, driveway lining, or anyplace tight spaces demand a tree that will not spread past 20 feet with the brightest reds in fall.
Flame Maple — is famous for bright red foliage that ignites a landscape. It’s well adapted to mountain clay soils, sun, wind and cold winters. When established, it’s easy on the irrigation and the perfect fire-wise tree. Though sometimes mistaken for a Japanese maple, this mountain variety is the far hardier of the two trees. Whether grown as a short multitrunk tree or a 10-foot shrub, it is on my list of preferred “waterwise” plants.
Ornamental Pistachio — are for gardens exposed to the wind and subjected to micro bursts or other weather anomalies. This autumn show-off thrives not only in harsh environments but neglect. The attractive umbrella shape turns a brilliant crimson; no other tree produces such a vibrant, broad range of fall reds and oranges. It can serve dozens of uses as: shade tree, street tree, accent, or front yard specimen. The ideal choice for flanking driveways in pairs. Grow this colorful low-water tree against a solid evergreen pine background to provide intense contrast to any landscape.
Aristocrat Pear — is the last tree to turn autumn red, yet celebrates the other three seasons of the year. This fall beauty also produces gigantic masses of white flowers in spring before the leaves appear, followed by glowing green leaves through summer. In winter, the clean winter outline is upright to pyramidal when young and becomes broadly oval at maturity and resists wind damage. The autumn colors are disputably brighter than maple and rival the purple of Raywood ash.
Prescott Red Oak — is so deep-rooted this mountain native lives for hundreds of years with little to no pest issues. Its real claim to local fame is the classic red oak leaves that glow through autumn. An outstanding pyramidal form for the perfect shade canopy in lawns, parks or a backyard patio.
Quaking Aspen — for the past four years, the undisputed best-seller here at Watters Garden Center is Quaking aspen, populus tremuloides, or trembling leaf poplar. Growing in the wild at the 6,000-feet plus elevations, it does well as a cultivated specimen. Aspens have the classic pure white bark like birch but, unlike a birch, handle our clay soils even better. True to their name, the delicate leaves shiver and quake at the slightest breeze. For a natural look with aspens, plant them in clusters, or buy a clump of aspens in the same container. They are social trees and like to hang out together in groupings — best planted before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Latest Garden News — It’s been seven months in the making, and the first edition is now online. I launched a digital garden center this month that just makes researching local plants easier. Plant organization is precisely how a designer investigates them in the landscape. Trees are broken up into evergreens, shade and fruit trees to narrow down your search. This is an active list of plants that often changes as crops are harvested and brought to Watters Garden Center.
Top10Plants.com is for locals of central Arizona only. Amazon will not be delivering a 300-pound tree to your doorstep. We have local delivery and planting teams hired to install plants for you, or pick plants up yourself here at Watters Garden Center. Take a look and let me know how to make this new digital garden center even better.
Lisa Watters-Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Road in Prescott, or contacted through WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter.