Aronia melanocarpa ‘Autumn Magic’ – A much underused deciduous shrub native to eastern North America – Black Chokeberry has something for every season. The glossy dark green foliage (grows to 5′ tall) is smothered by white blooms in late spring, these are followed by edible black berries which are used in juice blends. The fall colours are a spectacular melange of scarlet and reddish-orange. Hardy to zone 3.
Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Scarletta’ (syn. ‘Zeblid’) – Imagine if you could have autumn foliar colour last right through the winter – it may sound too good to be true, but this broadleaf evergreen delivers. ‘Scarletta’ has attractive lance-shaped leaves that emerge scarlet-tinted, mature green and then shift to a burgundy-red from fall through winter. It produces insignificant white spring blooms and grows 2′ tall by 3-4′ wide. Zone 5.
Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’ – Burning Bush is aptly named as this seemingly mundane green-leaved shrub bursts into a vibrant rose-red hue with the onset of a few cool nights. This dramatic change often takes neighbors by surprise and once the leaves drop, the winged stems (corky ridges) and reddish berrries continue the show. The dwarf form, ‘Compactus’, has better density but still can grow over 5′ tall. Hardy to zone 3.
Fothergilla gardenii – This species of Witch Alder is compact (growing 3′ tall and wide) and features foliage that much resembles hazelnut. The early spring bottlebrush blooms (produced just as the leaves emerge) are white and quite fragrant. The autumn tones are an intense blend of reddish-purple, orange and yellow, with some residual greens. Hardy to zone 5.
Viburnum opulus ‘Compactum’ – The European Cranberry Bush is an old-fashioned favourite with trilobed maple-like leaves that shift to an intense reddish-orange in fall. The white fertile flowers (borne in spring) mature to clusters of translucent red berries which add to its autumn appeal. ‘Compactum’ is a good choice for urban gardens, as it usually matures at 5-6′ tall. Hardy to zone 3.