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Monday, 30 September 2019

Plants For Autumn Colour

Autumn is just around the corner. The leaves are beginning to turn, the berries look plump and burdensome, but the true theatrical flush of gorgeous colours and crisp falling leaves will probably occur early to mid October.

Sunburst through an acer

It is a brilliant time of year for those who like me, enjoy a garden rich in reds, crimsons, yellows and rusts. To see a sudden fire ball of luxurious colours in ones own garden is rather wonderful.

There are so many trees shrubs and herbaceous plants that perform in the autumn all are exemplary. The colour of the leaves the boldness of there berries or the contrast they make against a garden canvas. 

This year there are a few herbaceous plants that have really stood out for me.

Crocosima Harlequin
Most crocosima are a vibrant mid level band of orange red or yellow but this hybrid glows. Its a really lovely tone. Its as though the sun is on it all the time. Crocosima is easy to grow and easy to control. Just extract a few bulbous roots and give them to a neighbour.

Helenium autumnale fuego
Helenium Moorheim Beauty is probably the most commonly grown and it is absolutely lovely but these new hybrid shades of Helenium autumnale I think are fantastic.There is a rusty two tone effect in the petal.

Percicaria amplexicaulis Blackfields
Percicarpia is an under rated plant. It is also on my thug plant list but its really useful, easy to grow it quiet neglected baked spots and this new red variety is stunning particularly with the orange coreopsis behind.

Rudbeckia fulgida
Again we are all familiar with rudbeckia. There are some sweet small headed dwarf varieties which are very handy border addition. These amazing fulgida varieties are huge and the colours as you can see are fantastic. Verbena bodnariensis is behind and salvia Ember Glow is in front with a little percicaria.

Aster frikartii monch
I can not plant enough asters for late summer autumn. Always ten out of ten for performance. There are some alternative colours for other colour dimensions but this is an old favourite as good as any new. Most people will plant more in the spring when they don't look as exciting and miss there lovely herbaceous plants.

This is a great late summer autumn plant. It can get caught up in the confusion with name changes. Try Actaea simplex 'Atropurpurea Group or simply bugbane. It looks great. Its tall and will grow in partial shade.

Anemone × hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'
I have to mention anemone because they are great. They will grow in a degree of shade.Known for being reliable and spreading a bit. Absolutely essential autumn colour.

Some of My Favourite Autumn Shrubs

Euronymus Atlas
I particularly recommend for their colour Euronymus Altlas and Rhus typhinaDissecta’ sometime referred to as Stags horn because thee branches are soft almost fury and look like antlers. It’s a large shrub or can be allowed to grow into a small tree. The foliage turns burning orange and lights up the garden. It can spread but it’s not too hard to pull the suckers up and keep it under control. If you do have a large bank or an area where you can let it go wild, I think it looks fabulous.
Rhus typhina
Regarding berries you can not ignore Callicarpa Bodinieri ‘Profusion’ Its also called beauty berry and not surprisingly it has the most amazing clusters of violet berries on bare stems. They must be quite bitter, because the birds tend to leave them alone until very late winter, probably when there is nothing else to eat. Callicarpa is a  pleasant green leafy shrubs with a pretty flush of soft pink flowers in summer. It will grow into a quite a large shrub, happy in sun or dappled shade.

Photina ‘Pink Marble’ is a newish hybrid of the traditional red robin. The foliage is extraordinary, displaying three colours green, cream, pink and young red shoots, all at the same time. It will grow well in all free draining soils, is fully hardy, even in the coldest of locations, and needs no special care. Photina are easy to grow evergreens all with great foliage but this has highly ornamental foliage over a long period.  Grow it in sun or partial shade .Achieving a height of about 150cm and  spread 100cm.

Despite the fact acer are trees I am giving them a quick mention here with shrubs. Acers or Maples are probably one of the most outstanding trees families in the autumn. We can all picture New England in the fall, with it’s wealth of  Norwegian Maples. These tend to be larger then the Japanese Maples. A great garden choice is Acer X Freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’ which burns a cinnamon orange in autumn, or for something a little more unusual Acer negundo ‘Flamingo’,who leaf shade can be likened to the colour of a flamingo!
Acer ‘palmatum

If you haven’t got the space for a big tree Japanese Maples, Acer ‘palmatum' are perfect. These are not so big. They prefer a position in partial shade. Few require an acid soil, its more important they have a moist soil. The larger, less delicate leaf shapes often suit more exposed situations. Japanese Maples are great in pots. Keep them well watered, don’t let them dry out and they will reward you. They are staggeringly beautiful small trees.
Nadina domestica
Nadina domestica fire power also known as Heavenly Bamboo, is a very easy shrub to slip in your garden. Its not actually a bamboo despite its appearance. It is closely related to Berberis. Its airy foliage is very similar to a small bamboo. In autumn is turns a beautiful fierily copper colour. Excellent in any sunny spot and not massive at 45cm 60 cm spread. This is a shrub for all seasons as it has many facets of interest and feature in our shrubs for all year round interest.

If you are looking for an autumnal grass try Stipa arundinacea.  I like this because it is evergreen. It’s quite a loose grass, changing colour through the seasons. In autumn the dark green leaves develop orangey streaks before turning a russet 
shade. More on planting perennials with grasses.

 If you are looking for low growing slug resistant evergreens, in every shade possible. You are looking for a Heuchera, they all look wonderful in their reds, yellows and cinnamon tones but ‘Silver Scrolls’ looks particularly good this season. The scroll like markings, etched on the leaf seam to blend with the seasonal shades so well. Heuchera ‘Caramel’ surpasses its self. The colour is vivid caramel orange with a burgandy under side to the leaf. H. Marmalade is very similar.
Heuchera Midnight Rose
 ‘Midnight Rose’ also deserves a mention. It’s red but quite luminous with pink tints in the leaves.

Herbaceous plants that really out perform all others  in October as  I have mentioned are the asters, daisies that flower late summer into autumn and rudbeckia , bright daisy yellow flowers with dark centers igniting the borders in which they reside and of course the anemones. 

We are lucky to be spectator’s at the most incredible performance. This short season of infused colour is nature performing at her very best.

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