Mill Pond Garden open day to celebrate fall color Nov. 13

November 6, 2022

Mill Pond Garden will celebrate the spectacle of fall garden color choices with an open day at end of the local peak, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 13, rain or shine.

For tickets, go to

Mill Pond Garden on Red Mill Pond is a holistic, public botanic garden with a mission to provide inspiration, ideas for best gardening choices in the Cape Region and professional horticultural information.

The secret to good fall color display is not just lots of color, but colors that set each other off to great advantage. Gardeners should select plants that provide these contrasts among choice perennials, shrubs and trees. Second step is to plan for an extended autumnal display of color, not finished in a few days, but lasting a few weeks, from late October to mid-November. One good design tip is to open vistas from one’s own garden into nearby gardens and natural views with fall color.

Perennials for outstanding fall color include native amsonia, little bluestem native prairie grass, and late-blooming perennials like hardy chrysanthemums, native mist flower and salvias.

Colorful shrubs for the Cape Region include camellias for both their dark, shiny evergreen leaves, and for the gorgeous flowers in pinks, white, reds and purples, blooming in great profusion from about late October to early January. Though non-native, camellias do well in Delaware and are highly beneficial to the 200 native bee species to tide them into winter hibernation, and for overwintering or late-migrating hummingbirds.

There are new hybrid cultivars available for larger flowers, more colors and all-winter blooms. Camellias prefer partial shade, growing about a foot per year, and they like good drainage and compost-enriched soils. Fertilize them with an organic fertilizer, especially horse manure, in late winter and again in late summer. Camellias in this country are known to live more than 200 years. For their dense foliage protection, birds like to shelter from bad weather in camellias.

Another favorite of Mill Pond Garden is Abelia Rose Creek, a year-round outstanding performer whose best look is its fall production of huge clusters of rosy sepals that last for months.

Tree foliage provides the biggest bang of color for autumn. Mill Pond Garden recommends the choicest sorrel tree, black gum nyssa autumn cascades, dogwoods with pink flowers, serviceberry autumn brilliance, Japanese maple viridis and native sweet gum, which must be chosen as a sapling when in fall color to be sure of its hue. It is recommended to choose a wild seedling that shows good reds, purples and oranges. Don’t group all the yellow trees together, or the red or orange together, but alternate the strong colors for a more lively contrast effect. Other good fall foliage trees for the Cape Region include some red maple, sugar maple and sassafras. The vividness of the red maples is also a matter of genetic variation, so choose one when leaf color is evident in fall.

For colorful shrubs, choose native devil’s club, sumac and chokeberry. Various non-native ornamental shrubs also can provide great foliage color, including some crepe myrtle cultivars. It is always best for fall leaf color display to be seen with abundant evergreens present to set them off handsomely.

Besides leaves for autumn color, there are glorious fall shrubs that provide great berry color, especially the native deciduous hollies, and also crabapple and Hawthorne with abundant orange to red berries for beauty and to feed birds through winter.



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