Every year at this time I scramble to see what other gardeners are doing for fall color. I am particularly taken this year with the variations of the Cutleaf japanese maple (Acer palmatum dissectum), sure to be glowing orange and yellow for another a week or so.
If you are not satisfied with the brilliant display offered by deciduous shrubs and trees and want something closer to the ground, there a few plants worth trying. My favorites are the Japanese anemones (Anemone japonica). The cup-shaped flowers are a flawless pink or luminous white and are carried high on stems that dance in the breeze. Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis paniculata) will grow 20-30 feet in a season and cover a multitude of sins. Asters are also reliable standards, and blue salvias hold their own well into the cold weather.