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Friday, 30 September 2016

Plants For Autumn Colour

Remarkably all the shades of autumn effortlessly create a harmonious sense of calm. It is vibrant without creating any clashing contrasts. The colour wheel reveals Mother Nature has evolved a technically perfect colour palette.
Don't miss our October workshop
Autumn colour peaks not according to a specific date but climatic conditions. It going to be great this year with the wet spring and early summer and now drier conditions.This years foliage will be magnificent in colour in trees, shrubs and climbers.
The Best Autumn Climbers
We've all seen chocolate box cottages on fire, clad in Parthenocissus a woody vine known commonly as Virginia Creeper or Boston Ivy. I also see the forests of Acers, the images of New England in the fall. We can bring some of these fabulous panoramic visions into our own space on a more suitable scale. I would be selective in my choice of Virginia Creeper as some can be quite invasive and creep into the brickwork. Parthenocissus quinquefolia can climb over 9 metres easily and will cover very quickly. For a smaller garden I would quite happily recommend  varieties such as 'Henryana'  'Rubrifolia' and my favourite 'Spring Green'. These only grow 4-5 metres and are ideal to cover  garden sheds or weave over picket fencing
Vitus vinifera Purpurea
Vitis 'Purpurea' is also a wonderful autumn climber it is a vigorous large tendril climber with deeply lobed leaves which are purple in summer, deepening in late summer and crimson-tinted in autumn. Insignificant greenish flowers followed by deep purple grapes very easy to grow.

Autumn Trees
Autumn always provides a wonderful selection of trees. A more unusual tree is the liquidambar. The variety Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’ otherwise known as Sweet Gum Tree appears to be everywhere, crush the leaves and they smell sweet. It’s often confused with an Acer because the leaves look similar and it turns delightfully red in the  autumn and is often the very last tree to lose it leaves in late autumn.  Its pre-requisite is a large garden as it will grow at least 8m tall. We do have an option for a smaller garden in Liquidamber 'Silver King' which looks wonderful throughout the summer with silver margins to its foliage and is later followed by deep burgundy red autumn colour. This tree will only grow 4-5 metres when fully grown.
Acers like lots of moisture , so don’t plant in dry ground. These Japanese Maples tend to be small and lovely to mix in borders of shrubs and perennials because they have character. They can be excellently in woody themes or Japanese style gardens. 

Norwegian Maples are much larger trees and will grow in almost any soil conditions  Acer Autumn Blaze is wonderful with its stunning red foliage this tree will grow to 10 metres.  Autumn flame is great for a smaller garden still with fantastic autumn foliage growing to 5 metres tall.These trees are what we see in the pictures of America in the fall often growing natively with liquidambers.  In addition we also have some varieties such as the Snake Bark Maple 'Viper' with fabulous snaky bark. We would also recommend  Acer plantanoids ‘Crimson King’ (crimson red) and pseudoplantanus ‘Simon Louis freres’(silver with salmon tipped foliage).

Malus more commonly known as crab apples trees come in all shapes and sizes including dwarf and weeping varieties to suit smaller gardens the best weeping variety is Royal Burgundy, lovely burgundy foliage, pink flowers and stunning red fruit for the autumn and only growing 2 metres. Rudolf is compact upright variety growing to 4 metres. Carmine bronze foliage red flowers flowers in the spring and stunning orange-yellow, red-blushed fruits which last well into winter.

'Everest' is a highly recommended variety which has dainty white flowers in spring and apricot coloured berries in autumn growing up to 20ft.

Cercis 'Forest Pansy' is a wonderful small garden tree or large shrub with stunning red heart shaped leaves and brilliant autumn colour. Cercis makes a small tree with a rounded habit, better in a sunny position as sun will keep the leaf zone vivid. Flowers are a light pink and the autumn brings a luminescent red quality to the senescing heart shaped leaves. Plant in free draining soil and stake well.

Other brilliant choices for autumn colour amongst the trees are the small growing Sorbus 'Amber Light' with glowing orange red foliage. Sorbus 'Autumn Spire' which is a narrow upright small tree with glowing burgundy red autumn foliage. I would also recomend Cotoneaster 'Pendulus', a semi evergreen weeping tree (grows 2.5 metres) with white flowers in June and clusters of red fruit for the autumn

Prunus 'Frilly Frock'
Prunus 'Frilly Frock'  is a fantastic small weeping tree. It only grows to 2m tall and has lovely white flowers in the spring and unusual golden variegated foliage throughout summer turning amber red in the autumn.
Cotinus (Smoke Bush)
Autumn Shrubs
 Here are some of my favorite choices for autumn. Cotinus (smoke bush) has burning dark red foliage and lovely throthy blossom. Leycesteria formosa (Flowering Nutmeg) has the most beautiful long tassel of purple fruit we now also have in stock the yellow leafed version.

Euonymus 'Atlas'

Euonymus 'Atlas' a simple deciduous shrub must have unsurpassabley the best autumn foliage, green leaves turn into rich red and pink and are truly stunning. It normally grows to 2m in height we now have the new compact 'compactus' variety growing to about 1m.
Viburnum Burkwoodii bear green glossy leave that rust into orange and gold as it turns. Varieties of Cornus (Dog Wood)  have leaves turning all shades of autumn colours and green, yellow and red stems gain winter prominence.

More lovely shrubs for autumn are Abeila Grandiflora which has masses of pink tubular flowers and beautiful bronze foliage for the autumn and winter. The new variety Abeila 'Sparkling Silver' has stunning silver foliage and a mass of pale pink flowers.


Cerastostigma Plumbaginodes(hardy plumbago) is a thoughly recomended a small sub shrub with stunning deep blue flowers and glowing autumn foliage.


The new Caryopeteris Pink Perfection is superb replacing the vivid blue with masses of pink flowers that the bees really love.

A Few More Slightly Unusual Shrubby Sugestions
We also now have in stock an autumn flowering Camellia called 'Kanjiro' these are a really exciting new introduction as these can be grown in lime soil. We have either a pink flowering or white flowering varieties.
A great shrub that is not commonly grown is Vitis Latifolia these produces pinnacle of blue flowers on strong woody stems.
And finally an interesting autumn shrub is again a new variety in Clethra Alnifolia 'Hummingbird' This is a bushy shrub with oval leaves that turn a brilliant yellow colour. White flowers held in upright racemes appear from late July into October plant is sun or part shade and keep moist growing just 1 metre tall.
 Perennials Or Cottage Garden Plants 
We still have masses of colour in our cottage garden plants. Japanese Anemones including many new varieties including the new compact growing Fantasy Pocahontas only growing 30 cm tall and a mass of pink flowers. Anemones are just as good in shade as well as sun.

Rudbeckia 'Goldstar' a very compact variety a mass of star shaped flowers.

The compact Aster Jenny and Aqua Compact are great as both only grow 30 cm tall and the plants are covered in flower.

or commonly known as the Chinese Lantern looks outstanding at this time of year with its glowing seed heads.

The new variety Helenium 'Short 'n' sassy' is a great introduction as the plants are naturally dwarf growing again 30 cm and slightly later flowering then taller varieties, the flowers are a brunt orange flower.

Schizostylis or more commonly known as kaffir lilies are a great addition to any perennial border, the plant makes compact clumps producing a mass of flowers in either pale or dark pink or red flowers.

Finally a wonderful late flowering perennial is Aconitum Napelius(monkhood) real deep blue flowers held on sturdy stems growing to 60 cm.

Carrex 'Red Rooster'
 Texture is just as significant as colour. As the rich red carrex above displayes so well. Grasses are superb  and often overlooked. Another great overlooked autumn plant that is often thought to be a grass is Liriope this plant produces compact stappy evergreen leaves and masses of  blue or white flower spikes now. Its a great edging plant. More on grasses >>

The texture of the feathery acer leaves and the grassy fronds are a simple but valuable way to add character and bring a finished feel to a garden, like curtains in a furnished and painted room. 
This season is a dramatic celebration of colour. It’s never more apparent that garden interest is about so much more than purely what is in flower.

If you'd like to know more remember we have the workshop on October 21st 2017.

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