My Journal

Planting for autumn colour

There’s a hint of wistfulness in the air for me as the seasons change, days get shorter and the weather starts to turn. Where has summer gone?! On the other hand, there’s a majesty about autumn colours that’s really easy and rewarding to bring into your garden. Seeing the amazing yellows, reds and greens of autumn foliage in your own backyard is a wonderful reminder of the beauty of each season. In this article, I’ll take you through some tips for planting for autumn colour.

I’d recommend choosing plants that aren’t just going to give you a good show in autumn but will do the job in all seasons, as well as dressing in their bright fall finery each year. In this article, I’ve chosen mainly plants and trees that won’t grow too large, as I know many of you are blessed with smaller plots. The good news is whatever your garden size, you can choose some fantastic plants for autumn colour to brighten up your garden as the days get shorter.

Either choose autumn colours that will complement each other such as various hues of red, or let your imagination run wild by running the whole gamut of vibrant shades. I can’t help but smile on seeing a riotous burst of greens, yellows and oranges against a rather grey sky.

Trees for autumn colour

Acers, or Japanese maple trees are unbeatable for rich autumn colours. There are lots of different types to choose from, some of which will end up enormous, but many that will happily grow in containers too. Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ gives a truly astonishing display of red leaves in autumn, and Acer Sango Kaku gets a special mention for its beauty in every season – from summer green leaves, to autumn sunny yellow leaves, to bare, bright red stems in winter.

Gingko Biloba again comes in various forms including some that can grow very large, but the dwarf variety ‘Troll’ will grow to just a metre high, making it a great choice for smaller gardens. The fan-shaped leaves are a bright green through spring and summer, and turn a bold, lemony yellow in the autumn.

Flowers for autumn colour

Rudbeckia has a really long flowering time and will bloom through spring and summer. Their orange, red and yellow flowers complement an autumn garden beautifully.

Sedums are a great succulent for filling out your autumn borders, and their tiny flowers in an array of wonderful colours will stun you.

Autumn crocuses or Colchicum will flower in September and October, surprising you with a sudden display of delicate flowers bursting from the earth. Their leaves will look lovely in the spring, then wither away – so don’t be alarmed. They’re just preparing for their floral debut!

Dahlias will continue flowering until the first frosts, if you’re careful to keep on top of watering and feeding them.

Shrubs and grasses for autumn colour

Sambucus Nigra ‘Black lace’ has feathery, deep purple leaves which look stunning in summer against the frothy pink blooms. In autumn, this shrub will turn to deep red and produce shiny, dark berries beloved by birds.

Viburnum is a great autumn shrub, that again produces autumn berries as the weather gets colder. Try Viburnum ‘opulus’ or ‘Dart’s Red Robin’.

It’s worth remembering that most plants and trees bought specifically for their autumn colour do need a fair bit of sunlight to perform at their best. Try to avoid planting them in deep shade for best results.

Further reading:

Happy planting! Katie x

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