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Spirea, Fothergilla, Itea and Heptacodium are Miri’s Faves for Fall

Miri Talabac, Behnke’s tree and shrub buyer, has been known to play favorites with the plants in her department, so I asked her to name her top picks for fall color. Her answers may surprise you.

Miri says that “Spirea has great fall foliage – varieties like ‘Goldflame’, ‘Fire Light’, ‘Magic Carpet’, ‘Snow Storm’ and others have a mix of plum-reds, red and scarlet.  They offer fantastic multi-season interest, with the spring leaf colors and long bloom period.”  Below, three spireas strut their fall colors.  From left to right they’re Spirea media ‘Snow Storm’, Spirea x bumalda ‘Magic Carpet’ (shown in spring), and Spirea x bumalda ‘Goldflame’.

According to Miri, “Both Fothergilla gardenia and Fothergilla major have great colors in a mix of burgundy, red, scarlet, orange and yellow.  One or two of ours are changing now, with the ‘Blue Shadow’ variety still holding its wonderful bluish summer leaf color.   They’re native to the region (a wee bit further south or into the mountains, I think) and have great multi-season interest.”  Here you see Fothergilla ‘Blue Shadow’ at the U.S. Botanic Garden and on the right, in flower at our nursery.

Itea (Virginia Sweetspire)
Miri loves Iteas for their wonderful reds, oranges, yellows and burgundy – on both ‘Little Henry’ and ‘Henry’s Garnet’.   She gives it bonus points for being native and having multi-season interest with the spring flowers.  In the photo below is a ‘Little Henry’ in the garden of Alison Gillespie.

Heptacodium (Seven Sons Tree)
Finally, Miri names Heptacodium, something I’d never heard of.  She says it has small, fragrant white fall flowers, exfoliating bark, and rosy sepals until the leaves fall.   It’s like crape myrtle in its habit.  The photos below are of the Heptacodium miconioides, common name Seven Sons Tree.


Posted by Susan Harris

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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