Brilliant colours of the autumn garden

Brilliant colours of the autumn garden Chinese plumbago deep blue

Posted: 04/10/2016 in Planting

Languorous autumn, when the softening sky shelters a tawny landscape, and romance and warmth sift through the amber glow of the season. A garden filled in with fall colours is always a special pleasure, bringing on a mood of hushed indulgence amidst the sunset tints and scarlet leaves. Autumn's jewel tones and fire-tinged hues present fall gardens with a rich display of colour and drama. Intense pinks, purples and blues pop out of the earthen scrim of russets and golds, giving gardeners perhaps the liveliest of palettes to work with of all the seasons.

Such is autumn's riches that garden lovers are also bestowed a wide selection of shrubs and trees for autumn interest, the better to tease out fall's stunning colours. Shrubs are especially prized for delivering reliable colour in the fall.

The yellow and green leaves of the dwarf shrub abelia x grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope', for one, deepen into orange and red in autumn, while blooming with pale pink flowers.

Cornus alba 'Sibirica Variegata', variegated Siberian dogwood, also yields pink-tinged foliage during the season (and produces bright red stems in winter). The creamy, white panicles of Hydrangea paniculata 'Unique', likewise turn a dainty, delicate pink.

Meanwhile, the Chinese plumbago, Ceratostigma willmottianum, brightens the autumn garden with deep blue flowers, as well as reddish leaves. Other plants that mix in a crisp blue to the fall palette are Salvia 'Blue Enigma', with purplish-blue flowers, and Aster 'Little Carlow', which puts in an energetic appearance with masses of pale-blue, daisy-like flowers.

Another shrub for vivid colour, Euonymus alatus, or winged spindle tree, performs a vigorous crimson show for a few weeks in fall, a spectacular sight to behold. For more dramatic displays, the Japanese barberry 'Rose Glow' has autumn scarlet foliage dotted with clusters of bright red berries. Another shrub, Cotoneaster franchetti, which thrives even in poor soil, produces orange-scarlet berries. For intense fall colour, the fern-like foliage of Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eyes' , golden yellow in summer, turns breathtaking orange, yellow and scarlet, an autumn showstopper, indeed. Trees, of course, are the autumn display's frontliners, with blazing canopies of foliage that give the season its distinct beauty.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum, the Katsura tree, is a great year-round shade tree that provides wonderful autumn colour. Its heart-shaped leaves turn from their summer bluish-green to a gorgeous apricot tint in the fall. The tree also provides a nifty seasonal bonus, emitting a subtle, sweet smell of burnt sugar.

Liquidambar styraciflua, or sweet gum, have elegant, maple-like leaves that shade into crimson, purple and orange in the fall, putting on an astonishing display that will leave viewers in awe. The sweet gum is said to be the best fall foliage tree to grow in the UK. Another ornamental tree for autumn colour is the Japanese maple. The Acer palmatum 'Fireglow' can be grown as a shrub, and is a perfect tree for small gardens. Delight as its canopy of deep wine foliage turns into an impassioned scarlet in the fall. These small, graceful trees can be grown in large containers and make beautiful focal points.

For large gardens, the tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, is a spectacular sight during autumn, with scallop-edged leaves a vibrant yellow.