Autumn is quickly settling in here in the Pacific Northwest. As we begin to experience more regular rains, cooler nights and foggy mornings, here are some tips and a few of our favorite plants for a new season.

First, I’m going to go out on a limb (pun intended!) and predict that trees in our area will show beautiful fall color this year. After a long, hot summer, deciduous trees and shrubs should put on quite a show of golds, oranges and reds this fall. Of course, if we get an ill-timed windstorm or heavy rain, the colors may be fleeting, but I have my fingers crossed for a colorful autumn.

Many people plant shrubs or trees in their yards for the beautiful fall color they offer and then experience year after year of disappointing color. If you’ve planted maples, burning bushes or spirea and have been disappointed with lackluster fall color, you may be loving your plants too much.

To bring out the best color in these plants, now is the time to cut back on watering. If you water your shrubs and trees regularly, you may be able to cut back by half—or eliminate completely—the amount of water you give your plants. Decreasing the amount of water you provide these plants will signal that it’s time to begin shutting down for the season, and in a couple weeks you’ll see the leaves begin to change color.

September is the time when many plants begin to go dormant for winter, but for many plants, the show is far from over. For excellent fall color, try planting ‘Orange Rocket’ barberry. Its upright, columnar habit makes it a great candidate for small spaces, it boasts deep orange leaves through the spring and summer months and in autumn it turns brilliant shades of neon pink and orange before dropping its leaves.

Asecond plant that I’m fond of for fall and winter color is ‘Wickwar Flame’ heather. Unlike the picture that comes to mind when you think of heather, ‘Wickwar Flame’ has yellow foliage, blooms in summer and has scale-like leaves. Most interesting, though, is its gorgeous winter color. After the first frost, the foliage will transition to shades of bright orange and even red. ‘Wickwar Flame’ is a great choice for pots or in-ground planting.

Finally, foliage plants are great for color through fall and winter, but as a flower lover, I have a hard time not mentioning winter pansies. After all, what’s not to love? They bloom all winter and well into next spring—yes, you read that right!—they need minimal maintenance, and as far as flowers go, they’ll give you the most bang for your buck. Whether you choose traditional winter pansies or the increasingly popular ‘Cool Wave’ trailing pansy for hanging baskets, they’ll bloom like crazy until a hard freeze, wilt down, and then bounce right back once the weather warms above freezing.

Early autumn is a beautiful time of year in the Pacific Northwest, and as the seasons begin to change, it’s a great time to rediscover the beauty of your garden. Stop in at Vander Giessen’s this month and get inspired!