In this garden notebook, we’ll consider a more natural planting style that uses a play of textures between four different plants and also packs a color punch in the late summer and fall. Evergreens in a line may be easy to maintain and just right for the purpose of softening the line between the house and ground but if you’re feeling underwhelmed at the thought, consider a less formal approach. This grouping will relate to the natural surroundings of your house but also offer a contrast that highlights your home. See the mock-up at the bottom of the page for a possible plan.Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)Amber Jubilee™

Amber Jubilee™ is all about color! The foliage on this compact selection will change throughout the season and into fall. In spring, maple-like leaves of yellow, red and orange are topped with white blooms full of nectar. By late summer, the leaves have changed to dark green, red, and purple-burgundy. Ninebarks are extremely adaptable to a wide range of garden situations, but planting in full sun will give the best show!

Mature Size: 5-6 ft. with a width of 4 ft.
Light Exposure: Full Sun
Hardiness Zones: 2-7‘Lady in Red’ 

Looking for an easy shrub with deep burgundy fall foliage? Look no further! ‘Lady in Red’ explodes in spring with bright red leaves topped with pink cup-like flowers. As the season progresses, the foliage darkens creating the perfect foil to any plant with orange or yellow foliage. Also compact and adaptable.

Mature Size: 5-6 ft. with a width of 4 ft.
Light Exposure: Full Sun
Hardiness Zones: 2-7Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora)‘Karl Foerster’ 

Early summer bloomer! An ornamental grass with green stalks and deep blooms that turn a golden wheat color through the season and into fall. One of the most popular and relied upon grasses for the garden, ‘Karl Foerster’ is an award winner! Extremely strong and vertical.

Mature Size: 4-6 ft. with a width of 2 ft.
Light Exposure: Full Sun
Hardiness Zones: 4-9Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)‘Hot Rod’

A beautiful shorter and darker selection. The blue-green foliage is vertical and clump-forming. During the summer the stalks turn red and then maroon by the time fall comes. The seed heads are red adding to the natural texture and airy appearance. Perfect for cutting

Mature Size: 3-4 ft. with a width of 2 ft.
Light Exposure: Full Sun
Hardiness Zones: 4-9‘Ruby Ribbons’

‘Ruby Ribbons’ has green-blue foliage with red tones creating dimension and interest. Late in the summer, ‘Ruby’ begins turning red and by fall the “ribbons” are putting on a show!

Mature Size: 4-5 ft. with a width of 2-3 ft.
Light Exposure: Full Sun
Hardiness Zones: 4-8Sweetspire (Itea Virginica)‘Henry’s Garnet’

Sweetspire is another easy and adaptable landscape shrub. The mounding and spreading habit makes it a great counterpart to nearby vertically growing plants. Only 3-4 ft tall and spreading horizontally to 4-6 ft. means it can live in front of taller plants. Dark green leaves come out in spring and white flowers seem to drip from the branches in early summer. As the season goes on, the foliage starts to change and you’ll see a beautiful combination of deep red, orange, and purple well into fall. The flowers are fragrant, hence the name Sweetspire.

Mature Size: 3-4 ft. with a width 4-6 ft.
Light Exposure: Full Sun to Full Shade. Flowers best in sun.
Hardiness Zones: 5-8Stonecrop (Sedum spectabile)‘Autumn Charm’ & ‘Autumn Fire’ 

The Autumn sedums are a great choice for any full sun spot. Sedums such as ‘Autumn Charm’ or ‘Autumn Fire’ have so much going for them. ‘Autumn Charm’ has yellow and green variegated leaves and blooms an outstanding pink moving to red in fall. ‘Autumn Fire’ lacks the variegation and blooms turn to coppery red in fall.

Mature Size: ‘Autumn Charm’, 10-15 in. tall with a width of the same
Mature Size: ‘Autumn Fire’, 2 ft. tall with a width of 18 in.
Light Exposure: Full Sun
Hardiness Zones: 3-9