As the nights draw in there are many changes in the garden, most perennials are starting to die down for the winter and shrubs become dormant for the colder months. While these spring and summer flowering plant finish ready for a new season next year, another group of plants start to prepare for winter. These plants offer many attractive autumnal colours. For this month’s plant of the month we are going to look at Autumnal leaf colour in the garden. We will follow this in November with interesting plants for the winter garden, whether they be conifers with their wide variety of colours and textures, winter flowering shrubs or attractive winter stems .
Acer Palmatum 'Cascade', a new variety of Japanese maple, grown for its elegant and delicately arching branches. The superb young foliage appears on reddy orange stems in spring and glows coppery red. As the leaves mature through summer they fade to green then burst into life again in Autumn with a further superb colourful show of vibrant shades of red and orange and bright red stems. A fantastic Japanese Maple Tree for Autumn colour, Acer Palmatum 'Cascade' provides interest from Spring through to Autumn.
Liquidambar Worplesdon is a gorgeous tree, with large, star-like, shiny, bright green leaves which turn brilliant purple, then shades of orange and yellow in the Autumn. it is not suitable for a small garden, as it is long-lived and will eventually grow to 25 metres. In Britain, it flowers intermittently and inconspicuously in Spring, but it is for the foliage that this tree is prized. Grow it either as a specimen tree in grass, or as the centrepiece to a glade of trees. Trees grown in a rich, damp soil in full sun will colour the best.
Euonymus Alatus is a dark-leaved shrub, inconspicuous for most of the year but in Autumn it comes into its own when the foliage turns vivid shades of scarlet and crimson. The summer flowers are insignificant, but they result in attractive purple and red fruits which split open to form four winged lobes with a bright orange seed at the centre. The bark is also attractively winged. It’s perfect for growing as a specimen shrub in a mixed border or front garden, where it’s magnificent Autumn colours can be fully appreciated.
Prunus Autunalis is an attractive tree for the smaller garden. This flowering Cherry Tree is valued for its semi-double white flowers which appear from late Autumn through to early Spring: the flowers appear on bare stems and look truly stunning in a Winter garden. This tree also boasts a good Autumn leaf colour, with the ovate and sharply-toothed leaves turning to blistering shades of orange and russet red before falling.
Continus Royal Purple, this deciduous shrub has magnificent, dark red-purple oval leaves, that turn scarlet in Autumn. In July and August, it is festooned with fluffy plumes of purplish-pink flowers that look like a haze of smoke. This is an eye-catching specimen plant for a sunny shrub or mixed border. The foliage, which appears almost translucent when backlit by the sun, is at its best when the plant has been pruned hard in March.
If you are looking for more inspiration on adding some colour to your garden it may be worth visiting an arboretum which will offer a wide range of plants suitable for providing Autumnal colour. Examples include: Kew gardens, Westonbirt arboretum and Batsford’s arboretum. These all boast a display of foliage and stems with a riot of colours, as we head through Autumn.
Whilst Octobers plant of the month is focused on shrubs and trees that will provide Autumn colour in your garden there is also a wide selection of plants which can add much needed colour too. We have a wide range of pot cyclamen at £2.49 or 3 for £6, 6 pack bedding at £3.99 or 2 for £6 and currently our favourite is the 1l pot viola which boasts several colours in one pot to put on a stunning display.
Competition time! - If you would like to be in with a chance of winning a £50 voucher to spend with us please check out the pinned post on our Facebook page. Share a picture of your favourite plant for Autumnal colour from your own garden.