Shrubs bring autumn color for a beautiful yard 

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Common witch hazel blooms look like narrow ribbons in the mid to late fall.

Don't you enjoy the fall colors? As gardeners, we appreciate all plants and trees that produce the brilliant foliage we see every fall as our growing season wanes. Stunning trees, bright orange pumpkins and brilliant mums all come to mind when we think of autumn.

But also consider shrubs when planning for fall color. There are many varieties of shrubs that we can plant to brighten up our yards in October and November; we are getting close to the time to plant these perennials.

Shrubs are the work horses of the garden; because they are smaller than trees, shrubs can fit anywhere, and because they are perennials, they will beautify your garden for years. What are the best shrubs to plant for the most excellent color?

There are a number of shrubs that not only produce wonderful fall color but are also lovely when they are in summer bloom and wearing their green foliage. When you are choosing your plants, consider the color combinations that work well; they range from yellow to orange, and red to bronze and purple. If you want to plant some fall annuals like kale and pansies, these selections will go well with the shrubs included.

One plant that is common here is the staghorn sumac, with its chartreuse foliage in the spring. The cutleaf staghorn sumac has lacy fernlike foliage that changes from green to bright yellow in the summer; in autumn, it has scarlet red leaves among yellow-orange ones.

This shrub grows very fast to heights of 3-6 feet tall and just as wide, and tolerates cold from zones 4-8; (remember that we are in zone 7.) This sumac tolerates full sun to part shade, so it is ideally suited as a specimen plant in a Japanese garden, in a mass planting or even a mixed border. Except for pruning dead wood, it doesn't need much attention, and you can find it in any local garden center.

One of the most beautiful yellow shrubs in fall is common witch hazel; this shrub not only sports yellow leaves, but also yellow flowers that look like ribbons which bloom from mid-to-late fall. Although it is low maintenance, it is shallow-rooted so will need water during periods of drought. It grows 10-20 feet tall and 15-25 feet wide and is hardy from zones 4-8. It prefers moist, slightly acid and well drained soil, and can be planted in full sun to part shade.

Another shrub popular in Oklahoma is the oakleaf hydrangea, which displays four-season interest. The green leaves in spring make way for the long, white, draping flowers; in autumn, leaves turn purple, bronze and red for a spectacular show of color. The oakleaf hydrangea is a smaller shrub, growing 4-8 feet tall and wide, and should be planted in rich, moist, well-drained soil.

This plant likes heat and humidity and can be used anywhere on your property, alone or in a mass grouping. It likes full sun to part shade, has a hardiness zone from 5-9, and is available in local garden centers.

Fall is the time to plant perennials for the next year's color. These shrubs produce great fall color, so you can now decide which shrubs will work best in your garden.

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