Autumn Gold Ginkgo in fall

Seasonal Change

As the seasons change, our plants change.  It’s easy to get used to the lush greens and colorful displays of summer and panic when our plants start to look worn out by the end of the season. In many cases, a bedraggled look in the fall garden is an entirely normal part of seasonal change.

These are some of the most common seasonal changes that gardeners ask us about. Don’t fret if any of this is going on in your landscape!

Seasonal needle drop on pine trees

We get many inquiries about what is happening to pine trees as fall approaches. In most cases it is perfectly normal seasonal needle drop. Pines shed their older needles at the end of the season; some shed 2 or 3 year old needles and some shed older bundles. Normal needle fall is easy to spot. The innermost needles turn yellow around September, drop to the ground, and make a carpet under the tree. If your pine tree is otherwise healthy and the outer needles are green and numerous, all is well. The needles that fall can be left as mulch, used elsewhere in the garden, or raked up. Check out our previous blog on seasonal needle fall for more details. 

Spots on leaves

Many trees and shrubs turn beautiful colors in the fall, and we have rarely heard of a nervous gardener wondering why their maple is bright red. Many plants, though, wind down for the season with yellow and spotty leaves and a crispy brown appearance. The natural process of leaf senescence isn’t always pretty, but it is entirely normal seasonal change. When trees and shrubs that are otherwise healthy exhibit brown, yellowed, or spotted leaves as the weather cools down, it is likely not a cause for concern. Fill out your landscape with plants that have colorful fall foliage so that a few unsightly plants are less obvious.

Perennials turning brown

Perennials spend a lot of energy putting on dramatic flower shows, growing, and withstanding the elements. By the end of the season, they’re tired and ready for their winter rest. Some perennials, like poppies and columbine, can go dormant quite early in the season. Others maintain until fall when they start to wither and brown, which is entirely normal. Gardeners can extend the perennial season with late bloomers like anemones, asters, and sedum, which are great at pulling the eye away from other shaggy plants. Evergreen and long-interest perennials like grasses, pulmonaria, heuchera, geranium, and pachysandra are also great for this purpose.

Now get out there are enjoy fall!