Garden Planner: Nov/Dec 2004

What to plant, what to prune, and what’s in bloom now in Dallas gardens.

November & December
Get your garden winter ready.

Years ago, fall in Dallas was a ho-hum show of evergreens, yellow hackberries, and brown pecan trees. Not so today. Over the past 20 years, thoughtful landscapers and gardeners have been planting trees specifically with fall color in mind, and the result is magnificent. If you are planning to add trees to your garden, remember to consider fall foliage as a design component.

Texas has several pockets of exceptionally beautiful fall foliage displays, most of them in the eastern part of the state. Check out these hotline numbers for details and timing.

 East Texas: 903-757-4444, Statewide: Texas Travel Information Center,   800-452-9292. 

 Texas Department of Tourism: 800-8888-TEX,

 State Parks: Texas Parks and Wildlife 800-792-1112,


Good Trees for Fall Color

Bald Cypress
Feathery foliage turns bright rusty brown. Makes attractive mulch.

Bradford Pear
Leaf shape reminiscent of aspen leaves. Red, orange, yellow, and purple, often simultaneously.

Chinese Pistach
Willowy, strap-shaped leaves turning yellow, red, and orange.

Crepe Myrtle
Red, orange, or yellow, depending on variety.

Bright red, burgundy, and plum.

Yellow, bronze, or brown, depending on variety and seasonal conditions.

Bright yellow.

Japanese Maple
Vivid red, yellow, or orange, depending on variety.

October Glory Maple
Well-named for the vibrant scarlet fall foliage.
Burgundy, bright red, bronze, yellow, or brown depending on the tree, variety, and sometimes the year.

Bright red leaves in fall; fruit ripens after first frost.

Red Bud
Large, heart-shaped leaves turn yellow.

River Birch
Clear yellow.

Strappy leaves in brilliant crimson and orange.

Sweet Gum
Star-shaped leaves that turn every shade from orange, red, and yellow to purple, often on the same tree.

Weeping Willow
Looks like a waterfall of flowing, strappy yellow leaves.


Winter Checklist
Your Guide to Gardening in November & December


In Bloom: Camellias, chrysanthemums, cyclamen, fall asters, roses, pansies, kale.
To-Do List: Begin planting spring blooming bulbs such as Dutch iris, daffodils, anemones, and ranunculus.
Remove debris from flowerbeds to control insects and disease.
Rework beds to prepare for spring plantings and add new mulch.
Continue to plant perennials.
Compost fallen leaves, spent flower stalks, and clippings.
Put out those pumpkins!


In Bloom: Camellias, pansies, kale, cyclamen, and Lenten rose.
To-Do List: Plant chilled tulips.
Sow seeds for larkspur, poppies, sweet alyssum, phlox, cornflower, sweetpeas, and stock.
Begin planting bare-root roses.
Spray dormant oil on hollies, azaleas, quince, lilacs, and camellias to control scale.
Fertilize pansies regularly if you didn’t use a time-release fertilizer when they were planted.
Order spring flower seeds.
Clean gardening tools.
Feed the birds.
Check your Christmas tree water daily to keep it fresh and beautiful.

DID YOU KNOW? Pigments for the colors we associate with fall are always present in leaves, but they are masked by chlorophyll, which gives leaves their basic green color and is necessary for photosynthesis. During the growing season, chlorophyll is continually produced and broken down, resulting in green leaves. As autumn nights lengthen, chlorophyll production slows to a stop and eventually all the chlorophyll is destroyed. The leaves’ naturally colorful pigments are unmasked and we have fall color.


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