Planting for autumn colour

Planting for autumn colour

Trees, shrubs and flowers for your autumn garden

I don’t know about you, but for me over the past few weeks things have really started feeling… well, autumnal. Although 2017’s autumn doesn’t officially start until this Thursday, I’m pretty sure that’s just a technicality – according to the golden drifts of leaves on the ground, and chilly evenings anyway. I love this time of year as I start thinking of cosy evenings in, comfort food, bonfires, Halloween and crisp country walks – but what I don’t love is how drab my garden can start to look compared to the chaotic colour of summer.

Autumnal walks through fallen leaves

Flickr: ashleigh290

One of the amazing things about autumn is how it immediately starts to affect deciduous trees, shrubs and climbers. Pretty much overnight, the trees in my garden start to change into their temporary autumn coats of orange, yellow and red, but it seems like just as quickly those colourful leaves have fallen to the ground and are feeding the worms in my compost heap, leaving behind spindly bare branches. What’s a garden lover to do?

The good news is there are plenty of trees, flowers and plants you can introduce to your garden now or nurture all year-round for a pop of autumn colour. The winter dread doesn’t have to kick in just yet! Don’t let the word ‘tree’ put you off either – many of these vibrant choices work perfectly for a smaller garden too, as they’re very happy being planted in pots or containers and maintaining a more petite size. Here are a couple you could consider for some autumn colour:

Japanese acer for autumn plant colour

Flickr: ruma views

Trees and shrubs

  • Acer japonicum aconitifolium. Otherwise known as Japanese maple, these pretty trees can remain quite small and take on a stunning bright red colour. Beautiful! Plant them in a sheltered area that gets plenty of sun and isn’t too windy, and make sure to protect them from frost. They’re equally happy planted in the ground, or in a pot.
  • Hydrangea quercifolia is also known as oakleaf hydrangea because of the pretty, structured shape of its leaves. The green foliage turns a striking deep red or purple in autumn, and until late summer the clustered white flowers are really stunning too.
  • Cotoneaster is a genus of shrub in the rose family with small, glossy leaves and a range of pretty flowers and berries. Try cotoneaster dielsianus for autumnal bright red berries. Very pretty!

    Cotoneasters, perfect for autumn colour in the garden

    Flickr: M a n u e l

  • Amelanchier lamarckii is a very pretty, small tree that displays petite golden and scarlet leaves all the way through the autumn – with the added benefit of pretty little flowers in springtime.

Borders and pots

  • Chrysanthemums are a great choice for pots and they flower well into autumn. Some beautiful blooms to choose from include Korean, rubellum and Japanese semi-pompon varieties.
  • Symphyotrichum are otherwise known as asters, and they bring a shot of colour to borders and pots in late summer and early autumn. They need lots of sunlight and shelter, and cutting back hard after flowering. Try ‘Little Carlow’ for delicate, light purple flowers.

  • If you’re planting brassicas like cabbages anyway, the ornamental leaves can make a great foil for more colourful plants to stand out against. Keep them in your borders or beds year round!

    Flowering heathers are a pretty choice for bringing some autumn colour into your garden

    Flickr: Vladimir Kud

  • Flowering heathers are pretty but hardy little plants. They’re great for evergreen ground cover, but they’re just as happy providing interest in pots. Most flower from late summer to autumn in a rainbow of different shades – pick a selection of pinks, purples and golds and place somewhere that’s not too shady.