Creating Fall and Winter Interest in Your Colorado Garden

By Phelan Gardens Published
Fall leaves in orange and red

Of course Spring and Summer are full of beauty and bounty in your yard. But, with a few thoughtful additions, you can stretch your landscape show to enjoy all year.

Consider adding perennials that bloom from late Summer INTO Fall.  Such as hummingbird mint or salvias. Perennial late season favorites always include mums and asters -- BUT grasses, dianthus, blanket flower and black-eyed-susans are also wonderful to see your garden extended into Autumn.



Fall Colors

Help round out your seasonal show with trees and shrubs that offer colorful leaves and berries. 

Brilliant reds...

Maples (acer sp.)
Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)
Spirea (Goldflame and other varieties)
Sumacs (Rhus sp.)
Western Cherry (prunus besseyii)

Bright yellow leaves...

Ash (Fraxinus)
Honeylocust (Gleditsia)
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
Linden (Tilis sp.)
Maple (Acer sp.)

At higher elevations, the changing of the aspens creates much excitement. However, temperature extremes in our area are such that aspens won’t turn as pretty in our yards as they do in their natural mountain environment.

Berries! Shrubs with colorful berries include:

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
Currants (Ribes)
Snowberry (Symphocarpus).

Vines such as Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus) have leaves that offer a mix of vibrant red and bronze with black berries. 

Foliage on broadleaf evergreens, such as Euonymus or Oregon Grape Holly can also offer extended foliage displays.

Don't forget roses!  There are many types that will produce beautiful hips after flowering.  

Just a reminder—if there is little or no soil moisture, most of these showboats turn brown with the first frost. To encourage bright Fall colors, make sure you water adequately before it gets cold! Plant with beautiful Fall color in mind!


Winter Interest

When winter causes the grass to brown, trees and shrubs to go dormant and perennials to freeze down to the ground, the best we can do is plant for some winter appeal.  

Evergreens are a great reminder that there is still life in the garden. Pines, junipers, and spruce are stunning when blanketed in winter frost. 

Ornamental grasses retain their plumes and blades long in the winter. They are a wonderful complement to evergreens with their swaying texture and sandy brown hue. Wait until late Spring to clip them down so that they can provide seasonal interest all winter.

Several other non-evergreen plants can be used for special effect. Dogwood shrubs have red or yellow twigs that are particularly striking against white snow and a bright blue Colorado sky.

Consider leaving decorative seed heads on perennial flowers (ex. such as Echinacea). Not only can do they create interesting effects with the snow and frost, seeds can be a benefit to native wildlife. 

Lastly, consider adding visual interest in a unique way by adding non-plant materials such as driftwood, natural art or even an outdoor "bouquet" by adding cut evergreen boughs to your spent flower pots during Winter.  These can last months during cold weather.

Be creative and consider what will make you happy to see outside your windows and go from there.  Visit our nursery during Fall and Winter to see which colors and textures catch your eye.