Paint your garden with the colors of fall



Summer in Arkansas can take its toll on the garden, so to keep cool, I’ve tried to stay inside and look forward to fall. It’s time to work on my fall garden, and as I always say, grab your crayons and start painting with the colors of fall.

Painting your landscape


Pumpkins rest among chartreuse sweet potato vines called “Sweet Caroline,” burgundy coleus and rose-colored nemesia. Photo by Hortus, LTD

As you plan your garden, consider that color sets the mood of the landscape. Cooler colors can soothe, warmer colors can stir excitement. I also advise painting with a wide brush — make strong, generous statements with large expanses of color.


The “Sunshine Blue” from Proven Winners brings some cool contrast to the warm colors of fall. photo by Mark Fonville

Shrubs are a great place to start your painting; they’re the backbone of good garden design. For some late summer to early fall blooming color, try the Caryopteris Sunshine Blue. It offers some lovely blue blooms that contrast nicely against a backdrop of yellow leaves. The flowers and foliage also offer a pleasant scent, and make a lovely addition to an arrangement. For warmer colors, Euronymus Fireball lives up to its name — it erupts into a vibrant scarlet fall foliage. It can withstand pruning any time of year, but is best done in the fall.


The “Little Henry” Itea turns a brilliant shade of red in the fall. photo by Hortus, LTD.

If you’re looking for a low maintenance shrub for the garden, try the Itea Little Henry. This is a wonderful shrub that’s native to North America and offers green summer foliage which changes to a brilliant red — perfect for the fall garden. It’s also quite adaptable to different garden conditions — it prefers moist soil, but is also drought tolerant. It can grow in full sun or full shade, and it requires very little pruning.

If you want to fill your yard with trees that produce amazing fall color, look to the Black Gum or Ginkgo. The Sugar Maple is also classic for the fall landscape. The Black Gum is striking throughout the year. When it comes time to change colors in the fall, this ornamental doesn’t disappoint. It also ages gracefully — its branches droop in an elegant manner that lends to its distinct form and beauty.

The Gingko tree offers unique color and shape to the landscape. It’s considered one of the most distinct and beautiful deciduous trees because its fan-shaped leaves turn a striking yellow in the fall. The Gingko also has a unique history — it’s considered a living fossil, with earliest leaf fossils dating as far back as 270 million years ago.

The Sugar Maple is a show-off in the fall landscape. It rewards the scenery with rich golds, vivid yellows and burnt oranges so bright the tree practically glows. The tree ends its color show with the deepest, richest reds before the leaves fall away for the winter.

Fall on Moss Mountain Farm

With all of the rain this year, Moss Mountain Farm’s colors should be more vibrant than usual! Fall lunch tours begin in September, and run every Thursday and Friday through October. Fall is a colorful time on the farm, as we choose warm shades of roses, dahlias and salvias from our garden crayon box. In addition to walking the farm, a seasonal lunch is always offered during the garden tour. If you’re interested in raising poultry, join us for our popular Fall Poultry Workshop Sept. 17. There are many reasons people raise poultry, including fresh eggs, fertilizer and entertainment. This “backyard poultry day” offers a range of topics to help you get started raising a flock. There’s also plenty to learn if you’ve been raising poultry for years, including all about heritage breeds. We will have poultry and hatching eggs available for sale. For more information, visit

As the heat of summer fades away, I encourage you to embrace the shades of autumn to paint a landscape full of color.


Pumpkins flank the entry to the cottage at Moss Mountain Farm. Some might say we go overboard with fall decorating, but you can never have too many pumpkins. photo by Mark Fonville

Gardening and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith shares news from his Moss Mountain Farm and Garden Home Retreat near Roland.