I stopped by to talk to Joseph Panossian, Homestead's shrubs and trees manager, to pick his brain about great-performing plants for fall (using the old "It's for the blog" excuse to finally learn about more plants than the couple of dozen in my own garden). He had a few minutes between customers, so ran around raving about one plant after another, starting with a modest-sized holly - the Dragon Lady, which tops out at 15 to 20 feet and stays nice and narrow.
And by the way, you may remember that Joseph's favorite female holly from the fall of 2009 was 'Blue Princess,' not the 'Dragon Lady' here. Fickle, or just not ready to settle down? You be the judge.
Next is a witch hazel (Hamamelis) with a label that literally said "maintenance-free" which happens to be what most homeowners are looking for in their shrubs. It grows to 12 feet tall and sports red flowers in late winter - just click here to see them.
The Viburnum dentatum or Arrowwood viburnum 'Blue Muffin' above is native to this region and grows to just 5-7 feet tall.
Above, the Nandina 'Fire Power' stays really compact - just 2-4 feet by 2-4 feet. It doesn't berry, so there's no worry about it being invasive.
And this last one is a total shock to me - Camellias that grow here and bloom from fall through winter? They're hardy in our Zone 7 gardens but you may want to still put it in a sheltered spot just to play it safe. It's a nice size for small gardens - just 8-10 feet tall, and evergreen, ya know. They also come in a soft pink.
DO stop by and pick Joseph's brain yourself sometime if you like learning more about plants.