Native Fall Color at Longwood Gardens



A view across the lake of the color in Peirce’s Woods, an area of native plants.

We have been having one of the most beautiful falls that I can remember.  Every day is bright and sunny, between 50 and 60 degrees F (10 to 15.6 degrees C) except when we have just the right amount of rain. The fall color on trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials is spectacular.  I am blessed to live in an area where I can enjoy one of nature’s most majestic shows just by walking outside my door.  So I decided to post photos for gardeners in the US and abroad who don’t experience this amazing prelude to winter.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.


Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, native to PA.

All but two of these photos were taken during a visit to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, US, on November 2.  Every plant is native to the US and most to Pennsylvania (PA), which is part of the mid-Atlantic.  A similar color riot is still going on today, November 12, in my own PA garden.


Pitcher plants, Saracenia, native to PA, even the planters near Peirce’s Woods are filled with natives. 


Hydrangea quercifolia

One of my top five shrubs: oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia, and fall color is a big part of that along with gorgeous flowers, tropical-looking leaves, peeling cinnamon bark, and its status as a native albeit slightly south of PA.


Hydrangea quercifolia

The words “jewel-like color” were made for oakleaf hydrangea. 


Cornus florida

Flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, native to PA, one of the best small trees for fall color not to mention spectacular flowers and fruit as well as a unique and elegant habit.  This is a young specimen.


Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebrush buckeye, Aesculus parviflora, a PA native with beautiful flowers in the late spring.  Great for creating a grove in dense shade and dry soil.


Fothergilla gardenii

Fothergilla, F. gardenii, native just south of PA, provides a mix of oranges, reds, and yellows that lasts a long time.  In the spring it sports lovely fragrant flowers.


Looking across the lake towards Peirce’s Woods, the red tree to the left of center is a red maple, Acer rubrum, and the smaller peachy tree to the right is sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum.
Acer rubrum
Red maple is a shade tree native to PA.  It colors early so I was surprised to find it still stealing the show.  Here is a view from the other side looking down at the lake.
Oxydendrum arboreum
Sourwood, also known as dead man’s fingers due to the unusual habit of its flowers, is a smaller flowering tree native to PA with many ornamental attributes including unbelievable fall color.


Taxodium distichum 'Prarie Sentinel'‘Prairie Sentinel’ pond cypress, Taxodium ascendens, has a more upright habit than its cousin the bald cypress and is native just south of PA.
Acer saccharum
For all-round large shade tree, I would nominate the sugar maple, Acer saccharum, native to PA.  Photos don’t do its color justice, and large specimens have a habit that is purely regal.  This one is a youngster.
Calycanthus 'Hartlage Wine'

I had to throw in this photo from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens of ‘Hartlage Wine’ allspice, Calycanthus raulstonii.  Top five shrubs again with absolutely gorgeous, bright yellow fall color; long-lasting, exquisite, large red flowers; and big, shiny, smooth blue-green leaves.  It is a native hybrid.



Also from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, another favorite tree native to PA, yellowwood, Cladrastis kentukea.




Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are mail order only.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

24 Responses to “Native Fall Color at Longwood Gardens”

  1. Timothy E Calkins Says:

    wonderful views, thanks!

  2. Linda Butwinick Says:

    Gorgeous, Thank you!

  3. Hello Carolyn,
    Great to see that the weather has been so benign, and the autumn displays so fabulous. Wonderful colours and trees. What a brilliant distraction from the political upheavals… We too have had the best autumn for years over here, but not as much clear blue sky as you’ve managed,
    best wishes

    • Julian, Even the excellent weather is not enough to distract me from the horrors of this election cycle. But a lot of hard work in the garden allows me to get some sleep at night. I guess we could use some more rain but the upcoming forecast has rain every three or four days which seems wonderful to me. Fall is the best time for gorgeous clear blue skies, and I have been enjoying those. Carolyn

  4. Linda Walters Says:

    Thank you, Carolyn, for reminding us what a beautiful place we live in. I just got back from Santa Fe which, while interesting, is so brown compared to what we have here!

    • Linda, I lived in Maine for 10 years and whenever I came back to Pennsylvania I would be amazed at how green it was. We get used to the amazing deciduous trees in this area, but it is a treasure almost unique to us. Unfortunately, people often don’t value it and cut down perfectly healthy trees older than themselves without a second thought. The townships have ordinances against it but residents and their tree companies ignore them. Thanks for pointing out what we have here. Carolyn

  5. You’re surrounded by autumn loveliness Carolyn. Have been to Longwood only once and enjoyed it immensely. The sourwood is gorgeous.

  6. Laurie Lewis Says:

    Stunning photos–thank you for taking me on this tour. Wish it were not such a long ride to Longwood !

  7. Alicia Jenks Says:

    Fall in Vermont was lovely this year. Thank you for providing a “second look” Carolyn. Your visit to Longwood made me want to start planning a trip for the spring. Have a lovely winter. Hope we have some snowy blankets!

  8. Your photos of Longwood are stunning. I follow Longwood on FB and have seen their progression through Fall. Beautiful place.

  9. Amazing photos, Carolyn. I booked tickets for A Longwood Christmas and can’t wait. P. x

  10. debsgarden Says:

    Hi Carolyn, what a glorious fall you experienced! Many of those plants also grow here in the Deep South, and despite our serious 3 month drought, we had a glorious riot of colors this year. Our color peak came just last week, after rain finally returned.

  11. What beautiful photos. Longwood Gardens is on my Must See places.

  12. Thanks Carolyn! Traveled from Louisiana to visit Longwood during Easter holidays. It was gorgeous then…would love to see it in person now! Thanks.

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