The Fall Color Project – Pennsylvania Style

– Posted in: Garden Design

Lake Nockamixon 1 Oct 9 09

Dave at The Home Garden announced last month that he was repeating his popular Fall Color Project this autumn, and since then, I’ve been looking forward to sharing the  fall foliage colors from here in southeastern Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the recent four-day spell of cold, rain, and wind seems to have spoiled the best part of the show, and I’m guessing that the shots I took over the last two weeks are as good as I’m going to get. I’ll start the tour with some shots from Lake Nockamixon in upper Bucks County, PA. The images above and below were taken on October 6.

Lake Nockamixon Oct 9 09

The next one is from nearby Linden Hill Gardens, in Ottsville, PA.

Fall color in Lake Linden 1 Oct 12 09

Oh wait, that’s the wrong way ’round. It’s supposed to look like this!

Fall color in Lake Linden Oct 12 09

About a week later, I took a ramble around my parents’ farm, which is adjacent to my place. We’re still in upper Bucks County here, but about 20 miles west of Lake Nockamixon, and about 30 miles north of Philadelphia. The hedgerows are mostly a mix of oaks (Quercus), hickories (Carya), maples (Acer), and eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), with a bunch of other trees and shrubs seeded in.

Fall color at farm Oct 13 09

Fenceline at farm 1 Oct 13 09

Fenceline at farm 3 oct 13 09

Fenceline behind green barn Oct 13 09

Field at farm Oct 13 09

The flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida), in particular, have colored up well this month.

Cornus florida at farm oct 13 09

This group of older sassafras (Sassafras albidum) trees pretty much peaked out at yellow… 

Sasafrass at farm Oct 13 09

…(the same trees from a different perspective)…

Sassafras row at farm oct 13 09

…but a stand higher up the slope is much more colorful.

Sassafras closeup Oct 13 09

It has also been a good year for that most outstanding of natives for fall foliage color, Toxicodendron radicans, both at the farm…

Toxicodendron radicans Oct 13 09

…and in a hedgerow over here at Hayefield.

Toxicodendron radicans at Hayefield Oct 6 09

Ok, so it’s just poison ivy, but you have to admit that it’s pretty from a distance. A long distance.

Even with the dismal weather, there’s a good bit of fall foliage color within the garden as well.

Viburnum trilobum Bailey Compact Oct 18 09

Above is ‘Bailey Compact’ American cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum). Below is a view of the same plant from a different perspective, with other viburnumy companions, Acer triflorum, and a skirt of Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii).

Viburnums Amsonia Acer triflorum Oct 12 09

Continuing the natives theme is a particularly nice Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica)…

Itea virginica Oct 12 09

…’Little Honey’ oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)…

Hydrangea quercifolia Little Honey Oct 18 09

…and ‘Tor’ birchleaf spirea (Spiraea betuifolia).

Spiraea betulifolia Tor Oct 18 09

Some other foliage standouts among the shrubs include Abelia mosanensis…

Abelia mosanensis Oct 18 09

…and unnamed Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)…

Acer palmatum in front garden Oct 18 09

…’Royal Purple’ smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria)…

Cotinus Royal Purple Oct 12 09

…’Kumson’ forsythia (Forsythia viridissima var. koreana)…

Forsythia viridissima Kumson Oct 13 09

…and golden elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Aurea’), which, admittedly, is this color all through the growing season but especially striking with all the reds and oranges this time of year.

Front garden Oct 13 09

One more vine, too: Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolius), which in one spot has wound up through Persicaria ‘Crimson Beauty’. I couldn’t decide if I preferred this first shot from October 6th…

Parthenocissus quinquefolius Persicaria CB Oct 06 09

…or this one from a week later, so I included both.

Parthenocissus quinquefolius Persicaria CB Oct 12 09

Among the herbaceous plants, some foliage highlights include that Hayefield favorite, Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii)…

Amsonia hubrichtii Oct 13 09

…dwarf goatsbeard (Aruncus aethusifolius)…

Aruncus aethusifolius Oct 14 09

…Bowman’s root (Porteranthus stipulatus)…

Porteranthus stipulatus Oct 6 09

…shredded umbrella plant (Syneilesis aconitifolia)…

Syneilesis aconitifolia Oct 18 09

…and ‘Redbor’ kale mingled with Italia leaf broccoli (spigariello).

Kale Redbor with spigariello Oct 18 09

And then there are the grasses – yay! A few highlights include blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’)…

Imperata cylindrica Persicaria Red Dragon Oct 18 09

…’Northwind’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum)…

Long border at Hayefield Panicum Northwind oct 12 09

…prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)…

Sporobolus heterolepis Oct 12 09

…and ‘Skyracer’ purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea).

Molinia Skyracer Oct 18 09

Unbelieveably, in the course of my putting this post together, the skies have finally cleared and the sun is shining, so I’m headed outside to enjoy whatever color is left. If you want to see how the autumn is progressing in other areas (including another take on Pennsylvania’s beauties from TC at The Write Gardener), or if you have fall pictures of your own to share, be sure to visit The Fall Color Project.

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Nancy J. Ondra

Nancy J. Ondra

Nan gardens on 4 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the firm belief that every garden ought to have a pretentious-sounding (or at least pretentious-looking) name, she refers to her home grounds as "Hayefield." There, she experiments with a wide variety of plants and planting styles, from cottage gardens and color-based borders to managed meadows, naturalistic plantings, and veggies--all under the watchful eyes of her two pet alpacas, Daniel and Duncan.
Nancy J. Ondra

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