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Article posted: 10/26/2013 1:00 AM

Art in the garden: Shrubs that dazzle the late-season landscape

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By Diana Stoll

Summer is now a memory, and we appreciate the colors of fall as we take stock of our landscapes. Is there something to look forward to after the first frost nips the last of our annuals? Once the leaves fall from the trees, what will the landscape look like?

Shrubs are a great way to introduce foliage, stems and berries to add color and interest over the next few months. Consider improving your late-season garden by introducing some of these shrubs.

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A small shrub that easily fits into any size garden is dwarf fothergilla. Native to the United States, this member of the witchhazel family offers honey-scented white flowers in spring, blue-green scalloped leaves in summer, and arresting fall foliage in colors that range from orange to yellow with hints of red.

Growing 2 to 3 feet tall in a neat mound, it is easy to incorporate into a perennial border. It is also lovely in the front of a shrub grouping or in a foundation planting.

The oakleaf hydrangea is another North American native with attractive fall color. Its deeply lobed leaves turn crimson purple as the mercury in thermometers fall. The oakleaf hydrangea also boats winter interest in its dried flower heads and exfoliating bark.

Plant oakleaf hydrangeas in a spot protected from winter sun and wind. Consider a courtyard or a space close to the house or by evergreens. It prefers a site in part shade.

Chokeberries have fiery fall color in addition to persistent fruit that adorns the fall and winter landscape. Red chokeberry is an upright shrub with green glossy leaves turning red in fall. Its berries persist throughout the winter - their harsh taste is avoided by birds until other food sources are exhausted.

Red chokeberry grows 6 to 10 feet tall and makes an attractive hedge or addition to the shrub border. Plant shorter shrubs at their base as their leaves tend to be concentrated on the upper half of the shrub.

The black chokeberry is similar in size and sports red fall foliage and purplish-black fruit. Both types are easy to grow, pest and disease resistant and tolerant of wide variety of growing conditions.

The spreading cotoneaster excels in fall color. It features long slender branches with a cascading habit. Its brilliant fall color is reliably red, but can also have tones of purple and yellow. Red fruits ripen in September and continue through late fall.

It grows 5 to 6 feet tall and adds fine texture to the landscape contrasting beautifully with broad-leafed plants. Plant spreading cotoneaster in full sun where the best foliage color will be achieved.

Winterberry is best known for its fruit display. Also known as deciduous holly, it produces an abundance of shiny red fruit that is a food source for native songbirds.

Plant winterberry in front of evergreens -- their dark green needles make a perfect backdrop for the berries, with or without snow. Native to swampy areas, it's an ideal choice for naturally wet areas. Fruit is only borne on female plants, so be sure to include at least one male plant. Since male plants do not produce fruit, tuck them toward the back of the planting area.

Red twig dogwood is unrivaled in its brilliant stem color, particularly in contrast to white snow cover. These shrubs benefit from spring pruning. Removing one third of the older stems makes room for newer and more colorful stems to grow. The winter red stems can also be cut for holiday greens containers.

Find a place in your landscape for a couple of these shrubs and enjoy your landscape long after the autumn leaves fall.

• Diana Stoll is a horticulturist and the garden center manager at The Planter's Palette, 28W571 Roosevelt Road, Winfield. Call (630) 293-1040, ext. 2, or visit planterspalette.com.

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