Color after the freeze

Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia, below) flower dependably in part sun and shade, though the large blooms are more scattered in the deeply shaded canopy beneath maples and tulip poplars along the edge of the garden. With any degree of filtered sunlight they are wide spreading and colorful hydrangeas, highlighted as much by their autumn foliage color as their late spring flowers (below).

While much of the garden fades after early frosts and freezes, foliage of Oakleaf hydrangeas begins to color in late October (below), with leaves deepening in color and often persisting into the new year. While the garden goes bare, Oakleafs stand out.

Selections in this garden are not made for autumn foliage color, but the colors of the otherwise unremarkable Fernleaf Japanese maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’, below) have made it a garden favorite. The fernleaf maple is slow to turn, and this year it is later than usual, but it will be splendid again if recent freezes don’t interfere.

Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) is valued as much for its autumn color as its spring flowers.
‘Winter Sun’ mahonia begins flowering in early November, with blooms often persisting into the new year.
‘Summer Ice’ daphne has flowered continuously since late March. Flowering will end soon.
A late flowering common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) will flower into December, occasionally into the new year when vernal witch hazels begin flowering.

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