By: Kate Randall, Red Butte Garden Marketing Associate
In the fall, many people drive their cars through the canyons and foothills to view autumn-colored leaves through car windows. Wouldn’t it be a much nicer tradition to go to a place where you can get out of your car—see, touch, smell, and hear the seasonal changes? Smell the flowers, touch the leaves, take photographs, feel the breeze, walk the paths, listen to the birds along Red Butte Creek, and enjoy crisp mountain air?
As the State Arboretum of Utah, Red Butte Garden is a showpiece in the fall. There are almost five miles of natural area hiking trails, and the formal gardens provide a variety of botanical displays year-round where you can enjoy the seasons with all your senses. Take a stroll down the “Floral Walk” and find yourself in a fiery tunnel of orange, yellow, and red Serviceberry, and Pear trees. Look for the yellow and orange tones of Smokebushes in the Rose Garden. Go off the beaten path into the “Natural Area” and walk underneath colorful Bigtooth Maples near Red Butte Creek. Hike up the foothills and enjoy the view of Salt Lake City.
Trees are not alone in the spotlight this season, and leaves are not the only players. The stems of Red and Yellow Twig Dogwood become very colorful. The exfoliating (peeling) bark of Paperbark Maple and our native River Birch are cinnamon in color. Many perennials are also great fall bloomers such as: Black-Eyed Susan, Purple Coneflower, Aster, Autumn Crocus, Anemone, Hibiscus, Toadlily, and you can still find late-blooming roses.
By fall, the inflorescence (or seed heads) of many native and ornamental grasses have matured and seem to glow when caught by the sunlight and are delightful to watch dancing in the breeze. Some autumn favorites include: Switch Grass ‘Heavy Metal’ and Northern Sea Oats in the Four Seasons Garden. Autumn Moor Grass, Little Bluestem 'The Blues,' and Feather Reed Grass along the Floral Walk, and you’ll find Eulalia 'Purpurascens' and Plume Grass near the Water Pavilion.
There are plenty of gardening opportunities in the fall. At home, it’s a good time to plant cold-season crops like lettuce, spinach, radish, garlic, and onion. Fall is also a great time to plant spring-time blooming bulbs, trees, shrubs, perennials, and cool-season annuals. Harvest seeds from your favorite annuals to plant in the spring.
Keep deadheading your flowers now to enjoy Indian-summer color, or let bird-friendly varieties go to seed. Let roses form their decorative rosehips. Fall is also the best time to treat lawns for weed control and deeply water trees before the ground freezes, especially conifers and shallow-rooted trees.