Autumn’s muted colors | Life | – Paducah Sun


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Color plays a very important part of our lives. It brightens our day, and calms and enlivens us. Spring color wakes us and summer stimulates. It is autumn that provides the most spectacular with its mellow and muted colors.Autumn is the perfect time to view deciduous plants’ true color as chlorophyll is broken down by the shortening days and cooler nights. Autumn is the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs, also. As with buying annuals and perennials in partial bloom to know its real color, it is so with deciduous shrubs and trees.Autumn shrub and tree foliage is predominantly red. Burning bush (Euonymous alatus) is the harbinger of autumn as its foliage becomes tinged pink and maturing to bright red as days shorten and temperatures cool. Scarlet to burgundy foliage frames hydrangea blooms including Proven-Winners’ H. Gatsby Moon.

The sheer size of trees demands our attention particularly in autumn when they are more obvious. Prevalent in Paducah is the dogwood (Cornus florida) featured on the Lighted Dogwood Trail in April. Its autumn foliage rivals its spring blooms. C. kousa blooms appear in May after its foliage. Ginkgo and sassafras pale yellow foliage glows against other colors. Japanese maple Coral Bark’s new wood is a bright red and just as attention getting as its spring foliage. Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) produces both yellow and orange foliage on each tree. The orange veins of serviceberry’s (Amalanchier) yellow foliage highlight its edible purple-black berries.October through November and even into December are the best woody planting months or until the ground freezes. Plant roots continue to grow in winter but at a slower rate. The cold temperatures give the plant a chance to overcome the stress of planting and establish itself before summer heat arrives.Dogwoods are best planted in March as are birch, cherry, crabapple, maples, plum, and serviceberry.THINGS TO DO
Goldenrod, our state flower, is in full bloom and no, it is not the cause of hay fever. Its companion, ragweed whose light-weight pollen is wind-blown is the real reason. Goldenrod’s heavy pollen simply drops to the ground.Garden — Allow same fall blue asters, plus tall perennials with seed-heads such as coneflowers and goldenrod to remain over winter and cut back early spring. They provide birdseed and winter interest. Continue planting perennials. Container-grown bought for fall decorations can be planted when flowering ceases for blooms in the garden next year. Lady’s Thumb weed is spreading. To get the entire plant, locate where it is attached to the ground, pinch and pull. Remove mulch from plants that have continual fungus problems and replace with shredded leaves or new mulch.Houseplants — Day and night temperatures will start dropping this coming week. Start bringing tender house plants in. Isolate from other plants for a couple of weeks to guarantee no insects came in with them. To overwinter geraniums, dig, prune, pot up and place in a sunny window. Cut the pruned branches to 2”, let dry overnight and pot in new potting soil. Dipping moistened stems in rooting stimulator will speed up rooting. Use a pencil to form a hole in the center of the pot, insert the cutting and tamp soil around it..Pests — To learn about pests, which ones are active and to report those in your garden, go to It is a fun, educational, and interactive site. Snails, featured this week, need lots of calcium which is why they spinach and why newborns eat their shells.Vegetables — Plant garlic for harvest in June. Separate the cloves and plant 2-4” apart. Clay soil will need addition of compost or other organic material.Contact Carolyn Roof, the Sun’s gardening columnist at, [email protected]

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