Fall colors are found in other places besides the deciduous trees that will turn shades of red, yellow and orange across the area next month.
They’re also on display in autumn flowers, birds migrating south through the Carolinas toward tropical settings for winter, and butterflies such as monarchs on the move for Central America.
“We will start seeing some color in October,” said Sara Millar, vice president of horticulture and conservation at Brookgreen Gardens. She spoke of autumn foliage as the “cool season” and that Brookgreen’s gardening staff fills its seasonal flowerbeds with many types of plants in the fall.
The annuals include ornamental and edible vegetables for foliage color, pansies and violas, wall flower, button flower, and California and Icelandic poppies. Fall-flowering perennials cover many different salvias such as bush and forsythia sage, cigar plants, lion’s tale, angel trumpet, goldenrod, swamp sunflower and Joe Pye weed.
Millar said mums and asters make up some ornamental grasses that look great during autumn, as do fall-flowering shrubs such as firebush, tea olive and beautyberry.
Anyone also could amplify colors at home.
“Roses get a second wind with cooler night temperatures,” Millar said
For perennials and shrubs with fall foliage color, try bluestar, sweetspire, barberry and oakleaf hydrangea, Millar said, running down a list of trees for this season: red maple, pistachio, ash, dogwood, gingko, bald cypress, and Japanese maple and beech, both of which have their own place in Brookgreen. Look for some maples by the addition at the welcome center plaza.
“Japanese maples are really one of the most reliable plants for fall foliage,” Millar said.
Every May, right before pulling up seasonal display beds to sow for summer, crews also review what worked trough the fall and winter to plot the next cool season, Millar said. Those orders for fall plants get placed by the end of July, just one month into summer.
Shades turning at Hobcaw
Patricia Mishoe has been the horticulturalist, overseeing the gardens for three months, at Hobcaw Barony, just north of Georgetown.
She said sumac plants are starting to turn red and goldenrod blossoms have begun “to pop out.”
With so many hickory trees across the barony’s 17,500 acres, Mishoe said, “they turn different colors.”
Home gardeners who might like to plant trees for their own backyard color in future autumns might consider the Japanese maple, Mishoe said, noting the various hues the leaves might flash, such as an “orange, reddish yellow.”
“There’s a lot of colors to choose from,” she said, “and a full-grown Japanese maple gets only 7 feet tall and 7 feet wide. I put one in my yard.”
Thinking about autumn and planting traditional colors, Mishoe said to consider the multiple options, because “some things don’t start blooming really well until fall.”
She said goldenrod, a perennial, blooms “almost all season long” and that it provides “a wonderful food source” for bees and their value as pollinators.
Another native local plant, Joe-Pye weed, also draws bees and “blooms for a really long time,” Mishoe said.
“It’ll start as early as may and continue all through the season,” she said.
Coleus commands her attention, as well. Mishoe said people often think of planting coleus in the spring, but sowing them in July and August, and with such hues as orange and yellow, “they carry on color until the season ends and it starts to frost.”
Mishoe also has noticed how a croton plant, with bright colors including red, yellow and orange, lasts beyond fall.
“A wonderful thing about that is you could put it in a container,” she said. “It’s a fabulous house plant all winter long.”
A croton pot, with orange mums and marigolds, with a pumpkin, works for a patio or small garden.
Other favorite sights for Mishoe include what some people call “swamp sunflowers ... which look like a large black-eyed Susan,” and chrossandra, which can bloom “all the way into November and Thanksgiving,” also very drought-tolerant.
Don’t overlook autumn sage, either, Mishoe said, “beneficial and beautiful” in attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.
Kimberly Griffin, facilities director for Horry Corry Parks & Recreation’s Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens in Little River, said autumn makes its mark across the 115 acres there in mid-October.
“Just the atmosphere,” she said. “A walk is very peaceful and quiet. You can actually hear the leaves falling.”
A recent traffic survey taken at the gardens tallied about 130 carloads of visitors coming by not just for the scenery, but the history on site, Griffin said. Many people walk along the “old Route 17,” she said.
Griffin also enjoys seeing people tying the knot in ceremonies on a platform in the gardens. One wedding party last fall had not only flower petals being thrown, she said, but leaves were falling in the background, so ideal and perfect for photos.
“It was very gorgeous,” she said.
Photographers and painters also find the gardens in autumn give them a great place to pursue their art.
Campout on park pier
Myrtle Beach State Park will have a first-time fall campout overnight Oct. 19-20 on its fishing pier using the stars and a full moon as its roof, in its “Camping Ex-PIER-ience.”
Ann Malys Wilson, the park’s senior interpretive ranger, said this idea had been pondered “for a year or so,” so now park staff will “do it and see how it works,” with room for 25 campers, ages 11 and older, who bring their own sleeping bags and the like, but no tents, for the 700-foot-long walk to the end of the pier.
“I was trying to think of a bigger program that no one else can do and that would be unique to Myrtle Beach State Park,” Wilson said.
She doesn’t see its $25 fee as a deterrent, amid so many free programs that come with park admission, either. Activities will include use of telescopes from Coastal Carolina University Astronomy Club, roasting hot dogs and making s’mores, and watching a Myrtle Beach State Park original movie.
“I think this one is worth it,” she said. “Where else on the East Coast can you sleep – legally – on a fishing pier under a full moon?”
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.