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Skaggs: Find fall color at garden expo
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Fall is here, and random dogwoods and maples are hinting of the fall leaf season. But while you're making plans to admire the colorful foliage, why not plant your own fall color?

If you've lost trees to the ongoing drought, you may have room for new ones. Fall is the ideal time to plant trees, and the 2008 Fall Garden Expo is the ideal place to shop.

The expo is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center.

The purpose of the garden expo is to provide local residents with a unique opportunity to shop for locally produced garden products direct from the grower, garden center or dealer. You're sure to find some great deals and an outstanding selection.

About 35 vendors are scheduled to be at the expo selling a variety of items, including specialty plants, natives, annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, power equipment, hand tools, garden art and lawn furniture.

If you're looking for that hard-to-find plant or the latest in garden trends, a trip to the Fall Garden Expo will be worth the effort.

If you make it out to the garden expo, here are some trees to look for that offer outstanding fall color and seasonlong interest.

If I were putting together a gardening dictionary, the entry for "fall color" would have next to it a picture of maples, adorned in their autumn colors of red, yellow and orange.

Among the native fall foliage trees, it is certainly the maples that bring out the most leaf peepers. In particular, look for the red maple varieties October Glory, Red Sunset and Autumn Blaze.

When we think of dogwoods, we immediately think, "flowering." And indeed, dogwoods put on an impressive display in spring with their flowering. But dogwoods also bear attractive fall leaves.

Cornus florida is the native flowering dogwood tree in the U.S., commonly referred to simply as, "flowering dogwood tree," as if there were no other.

Also available is the Japanese, or "kousa" dogwood (Cornus kousa). The white, star-shaped blooms appear later in spring than do the flowers on other dogwoods. Fall foliage is purplish-red. The red berries of kousa dogwood trees persist into winter and are eaten by wild birds.

The ginkgo is certainly attractive enough to function as a specimen plant, particularly because of its golden fall foliage.

Ginkgo trees are disease-resistant and tolerate urban pollution. Their unique fan-shaped leaves start out green but morph into golden fall foliage. Before the whole leaf turns golden, the leaf is two-toned, with separate bands of gold and green.

Fall is the perfect time to plant young trees, even as you enjoy the wonderful color of fall.

Planting in the fall will allow your new plantings to develop strong roots in the cooler soil.

For a great selection of trees as well as many other plants and gardening products, visit the Fall Garden Expo.

Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.