October Sky

Before I get the words of Californian Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas stuck in my head and all I can think about is how safe and warm I would be in LA during the long days of January and February in Chicago, I am first feeling very lucky to have a Illinois mailing address during the month of October.  This last week, I find myself driving with my eyes to the sky.  Most notably, yesterday with a crisp blue sky, I spotted this row of incredible crimson at Wilson’s Landscape Supply.

Becca LaBarre

The fall color ups the ante at a nursery with row after row of the same tree all ablaze at the same time.  These Autumn Blaze Maples are in full color now, but I’ve seen some that haven’t quite completely colored yet, while some of the actual red maples appear to be already past their prime.

This entire season has been marked with extremes.  Like a San Diego 4th of July firework display the flowers burst forth with all of April May and some of June’s buds opening all at once and now the same seems to be happening with the fall leaves as well.  There have been many years when there are several weeks between early fall favorites like the Ash trees in Late September (pictured below) and the years finally ending with Ornamental Pears in November.  This year the pears are already showing at least 25% fall color in some cases while the yellow foliage of the ash trees peaked late last week and the Autumn Purple Ashes are in the middle of their best color.  When I say best, I mean almost glowing.  Incredible!

Becca LaBarre

If you want to check out one of the most awesome neighborhoods for fall, check out the Sanctuary of Bull Valley, in Bull Valley, IL.  The houses are dotted among an Oak Savannah.  One of EverGreen Landscapes clients lives backing to a field of switchgrass, and big and little bluestem grasses.  Check out this fall smorgasbord view out of the back of the house.  I wouldn’t mind waking up to this on an October morning.

Becca LaBarre

Here are few other beauties I’ve seen so far this week….

Becca LaBarre

Above is a grouping of Sugar Maples.

Becca LaBarre

Not all perennials shrivel up and turn brown right away.  This balloon flower makes an impressive display next to the Russian Sage still in flower behind it.

Becca LaBarre

The above picture is Honeylocust in full yellow color. I’ve seen a large variance in these from those that just have a little yellow to some that look as though they may lose most of their leaves next time the wind blows.

Keep your eyes to the skies this October…Fall is Here!



The Grand Finale of Color

Are you craving pumpkins, apple picking, cinnamon scented candles, bonfires, or chunky knit sweaters?  The time of year is full of seasonal activities to drain every last ounce of outside enjoyment before the winter sets in.  While the trees will do their own part to color our world in just a few short weeks time, it is the fall annual plantings that add the compliment to planters, and garden beds.  As the perennials tire, a display of fall flowers can add a face lift to the aging gardens.  Here are some favorites and some new must tries.


1.  Common Pansy

The pansy can come in a wide range of colors and mixes that bring out the best compliment to your tree leaf blazes.  With names like Citrus Mix, which is a combination of yellow, white, and orange or Halloween Mix that is orange and almost black. The colorful display and long-lasting blooms are among my favorite things about pansies.  The best part is that if planted in the Fall and covered for the winter, a pansy display can often come back full force in the spring.  The plants are often even flowering well into the time when summer annuals are ready to be planted.  A great way to get some early spring color before everything else gets going!

2. Hardy Mum

These floriferous color shockers epitomize the Fall.  A 6 in pot can often be all that is needed to adorn a stoop.  They range in color from yellow, red, maroon, orange, pink, white and lavender.  If you find them overwinter, make sure to pinch them back (aka cut the tops off so buds don’t form to early) in the summer to make sure that the flowers are displayed later in the Fall.

3.  Ornamental Kale or Cabbage

You wouldn’t want to eat it, but the display is right out of the cabbage patch.  Purples, greens, and multicolored displays can provide filler to the flower pot as well as in a bed setting.  Names like Peacock red pictured above, or how about a fun one called Dinosaur Kale because of its bumpy texture.

4. Ornamental Pepper


This is one of my favorites and the Sangria variety picture above is one of the new varieties being sold by our supplier RCOP.  I love the added texture of the peppers, that you can’t get with very many other plants.  This is a perfect addition to containers.

6.  Ornamental Grass


The sky is the limit on what types of grasses you can add.  Proportion is important to keep in mind in selecting.  Often, if your regular planter display has used some grasses as the focal point, they can remain throughout the Fall and the filler plants can be changed out.  Sometimes it is fun to use crazier varieties that can’t be grown in the midwest over winter.  I’ve always loved Imperata ‘Red Baron’ because of the flame like tips the grass blades as seen above.  Some interesting newer varieties include Vertigo Pennisetum with purplish grass blades.