Tony's Top Picks for the Fall Plant Sale: Week 4

Our Fall Plant Sale has begun! Every week this season, we will have three types of plants on sale. Tony is here to provide us with his top picks each week.

This week 10/2 - 10/8 we’re serving up 30% savings on: Dogwood (Cornus), Viburnum, Lilac (Syringa). Tony has selected three of his top picks from each category to give you a bit of info to make your saving decisions easier. 


Dogwood, Arctic Fire Redtwig

Arctic Fire™ is a compact selection of the popular Bailey Redtwig dogwood, much enjoyed for its intense maroon-red stems in winter snow. Compact in this case means matures at 4’ tall and 4’ wide since “compact” is all relative. Flat-topped white spring flowers become white berries later in the season. This is a selected variety of a native shrub! Oh, and at this time of year how could I fail to mention the potentially great maroon-purple fall color when grown in the sun it really prefers?

Dogwood, Cardinal Redtwig

‘Cardinal’, the dogwood, intrigues. It grows rapidly to 6-8’ tall and wide. White flowers, white berries as Arctic Fire™ above. Reddish-purple fall foliage color. What’s cool to me is the fact that when the temps drop to a certain threshold (and I’ve been told it’s a tad less than 30°) the season-long, yellow-green stems make a Cinderella-like transformation to salmon-pink. I know other sources say cherry red, but mine have never done that even though they’re sited in full sun. I have to call it the way I’ve seen it. They will tolerate partial shade, too.

Dogwood, Irish Setter Gray

Irish Setter™ stood out among a group of dogwood seedlings, perhaps a hybrid, as a rapid grower to 8-12’ tall and equally wide. These proportions and rapid growth make it a great candidate for economical deciduous screening. Leaves emerge with a definite mahogany cast before greening off. White flowers, white berries that birds LOVE! One of the standout things about Irish Setter™ is its resistance to Septoria leaf spot, a common bugaboo with some dogwoods after monsoon-like spring rains. Reported to have up to a month of deep maroon fall color. And second-year stems can be bright red. Is there anything this shrub can’t do? 


  • The Viburnum genus is a large one with many varieties that can answer a wide range of landscape solutions: specimen focal point, mass plantings, screening.  
  • While they prefer sun most will readily tolerate at least ½ day (some, more) shade without any major reduction in plant density or quality.  
  • They are overwhelmingly spring bloomers dictating that any maintenance pruning you desire should be done preferably within 4, and absolutely no later than 6 weeks after bloom. Why so? Pruning after that 6 week period has elapsed doesn’t give the flower buds time to develop before winter, so you’d be reducing the number of flowers the following spring. 


Just a wonderful textural plant with narrow, but elongated dark green leaves that are semi-evergreen/deciduous depending upon how protected their siting and also the severity of the winter. Milder winters = more likely to retain some leaves. Vigorous, but dense and naturally rounded to 10-12’ tall and wide. Yellow-tinged white spring flowers. May produce fruit if another V. lantana or V. rhytidophylloides variety is there to cross-pollinate. Strong enough seasonal interest to be a specimen plant, en masse, or for tall screening. An all-around landscape powerhouse!

Doublefile ‘Mariesii’ 

Has a very definite layered horizontal branching habit that makes it visually special. It’s at it its very best in May when the large white lace-cap flowers sit regally atop the branches like melting snow. Nothing else like it! Nicely textured foliage, too, that may or may not show you red-purple fall color, depending upon the year. 10-12’ tall and wide.

Viburnum, Spice Island Koreanspice - Sugar n’ Spice™ 

A selected variety of one of the most popular flowering shrubs I know- the fragrant Korean Spicebush. For those that haven’t experienced the flowers the wonderfully sweet smell is like an intensely spicy carnation. The buds are pink, but open to a creamy white- always in bloom at Mother’s Day! Sugar ‘n Spice™ was selected for its extremely heavy flower production. Flower size is slightly smaller than standard Korean Spicebush. With enough sun, potentially good wine-red fall color that adds yet another season of interest. Moderately slow growth rate to 4-8’ wide and tall at maturity! 


Let’s preface this group by saying they like sun, lots of it, and a well-drained site. Any desired pruning should be accomplished within a month or so of the time they finish blooming. In the case of the repeat-blooming Bloomerang® touch them up (should you desire to prune them) after that heaviest first flush of flowers. And I love all three below because they have the charming habit of keeping their ankles covered to the ground with foliage unlike the “grandmother Lilacs” that can show 3’ of limb before the first leaf. 

Lilac, Bloomerang Dark Purple

Bloomerang® series has multiple colors including Dark Purple and Purple. Why is it special, you ask? Bloomerang® has the potential to bloom spring, and again light crops in summer and fall. One nurseryman shared that his experience was cooler summer nights increased the likelihood of a summer crop. They have beautiful, glossy foliage that is mildew-resistant (an aesthetically annoying fungal issue common with Lilacs). The lustrous dark-green foliage hits gold/purple notes in the fall. Neat and tidy at 4-5’ tall and wide at maturity. And, of course, the reason for planting lilacs- the wonderfully fragrant, rounded flowers in the afore-mentioned colors. 

Lilac, Dwarf Korean

Dwarf Korean is a personal fave of mine. I love the naturally roundy-moundy shrub shape (with really minimal pruning) to 4-5’ tall and 5-6’ wide. The flowers are deep pinkish-purple, and, of course, fragrant in the extreme. Summer foliage is petite in size, an attractive glossy dark green that glows gold/purple come fall.        

Lilac, Miss Kim

Dwarf Lilac ‘Miss Kim’ is a larger scale (but still dwarf) shrub maturing at 5-7’ tall and wide. The flower size is closer to that of a standard lilac with 4-6” long flower spikes that open from ice-blue buds to sky-blue flowers. Fragrant? Of course. And unlike most lilacs ‘Miss Kim’s’ handsome heart-shaped green leaves have burgundy-purple fall color potential.       

Shop the our Fall Plant Sale collection of Dogwoods, Spirea and Lilac online or come in to shop the entire collection. Stay tuned for next week's Plant Sale Top Picks!

Tony Fulmer

Chalet's Chief Horticulturist Officer