Trees for Multi-Season Color

Your garden palette will change with the seasons when you plant trees that offer attractive foliage, fruits, bark and flowers throughout the year.
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Photo By: Courtesy of Wayside Gardens

Photo By: Courtesy of Wayside Gardens

Photo By: Courtesy of Wayside Gardens

Photo By: Courtesy of Wayside Gardens

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Photo Courtesy of Bailey Nurseries 

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

'Moonrise' Full Moon Japanese Maple

With its neon-red spring foliage, chartreuse summer leaves and dark red autumn colors, this tree is a 3-season standout. 'Moonrise' full moon Japanese maple (Acer shirasawanum 'Munn 001') thrives in partial shade in zones 5 to 9.

'Ruby Falls' Redbud

Cercis canadensis 'Ruby Falls' is a dwarf, weeping redbud tree with lavender flowers and maroon-red leaves. In summer, the foliage becomes dark green with washes of red and violet, especially where the weather is cool. The red stems are attractive even when the leaves drop.

'Evening Light' Japanese Snowbell

Each spring, Styrax japonicus 'Evening Light' bears bell-shaped, sweetly scented white flowers. Its purple and green leaves, carried on maroon stems, become more green if this Japanese snowbell is grown in shade. When the tree is kept moist all summer, it often reblooms in early fall.

Smoke Tree

Named for its striking flower clusters, which resemble puffs of smoke, Cotinus coggygria grows as a small tree or big shrub. Its summer leaves are shades of green, gold and purple. In autumn, they become yellow-orange and red.

Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo'

Dwarf Japanese maple 'Ukigumo' matures at 6 feet tall and is also known as the "Floating Cloud Maple." Its spring leaves are creamy white, speckled and splotched with pink and green. Heat fades the colors, but the palm-shaped foliage later turns peach-orange or yellow.

Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)

Spectacular, sun-loving sourwood trees bear white, bell-shaped flowers in summer. By autumn, the dark green leaves glow in shades of red, purple and yellow.

Sargent's Cherry Tree (Prunus sargentii)

Sargent's cherry trees (Prunus sargentii) bear deep pink blooms in spring, followed by dark green leaves. As summer ends, the foliage takes on shades of orange, red and bronze. Sargent's cherry trees hold their interest even in winter, thanks to their cinnamon-colored bark and dark fruits, which often attract hungry birds.

River birch (Betula nigra)

Native to North American, river birches earn a spot in the landscape or garden for their foliage, which changes from medium green in summer to yellow with tints of peach, salmon and orange by fall. This tree's most attractive feature is its exfoliating bark, which is a warm, rich brown.

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

The pink or white blooms of flowering dogwoods are stunning in the spring. Depending on the species, dogwoods may have gray-green or green leaves that become yellow, flaming red, pink-purple or gold in the fall. After the leaves drop, dark-colored fruits often remain on the trees.

'Prairifire' Crabapple (Malus 'Prairifire')

This flowering crabapple, hardy in zones 4 to 8, is valued for its clear pink flowers, purple foliage and red fruits, which often cling to the branches into the fall and winter. The reddish-brown bark is attractive when the leaves drop.

Sweetgum Tree (Liquidambar styraciflua)

The American Sweetgum bursts into a kaleidoscope of color in autumn, when its leaves range from red to burgundy, purple and yellow. During the spring and summer, the star-shaped leaves are a glossy green.

Star Magnolia 'Royal Star' (Magnolia stellata)

Fuzzy buds that resemble pussy willow catkins appear on Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star' in late winter, followed by fragrant, white flowers in spring. In autumn, the green leaves turn butternut yellow. The trees also form seed pods that sometimes burst before they fall revealing bright, orange-red seeds.

Eastern Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)

Also known as ironwood, the Eastern hornbeam is a lovely tree with  multi-season interest. Male flowers, or catkins, linger on the trees well into winter. Female flowers resemble hops. A woody fruiting capsule contains tiny nutlets favored by birds like grouse, pheasant and songbirds.