Autumn Plants

Which plants will bring some stunning autumn colour into the garden?

I think autumn is such a magical and exciting time in the garden.  It is horticulture’s finale to the gardening year and as far as I am concerned I want that finale to be as long lasting as possible, with plenty of vibrant hot colours to keep the impending winter dark and cold at bay.  It is easy to just concentrate on trees at this time of year, but in fact there are many shrubs and flowers which provide good autumn colour right through until the first hard frosts have done their worst and Guy Fawkes Night is just a memory.

1) Autumn Crocus Colchicum ‘Waterlily’

This is in my opinion one of the most beautiful of all autumn flowering bulbs.  It really does look like a waterlily with its multi-petalled lavender-pink blossoms elegantly displayed upon slender leafless stems.

2) Nerine bowdenii ‘Fenwick’s Variety’

Despite its South African origins, if you plant this beautiful bulbous perennial close to a warm sunny wall in free-draining soil, it will flower its heart out from September well into November.  Deep pink frilly-petalled flowers.

Cotinus coggygria 'Grace'
Colchicum autumnale
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3) Smoke Bush Cotinus ‘Grace’

A beautiful lax-branched shrub with soft, large, translucent, deep burgundy-purple leaves which turn a brilliant scarlet in autumn.  Fantastic when the leaves are backlit by the waning autumn sun.

4) Winged Spindle Euonymus alatus

This compact slow-growing shrub really does have it all as far as autumn interest is concerned.  Sculpturally attractive corky-winged branches, purple-red fruits opening to reveal tangerine coloured seeds and vivid crimson leaf colour – wow!

5) Japanese Maple Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’

Almost a cliché in autumn gardens, but the reason for its popularity is that it is just so damn good!  The most reliable Japanese Maple for autumn colour.  The leaves turn a vibrant fiery scarlet-red year after year after year.

6) Sweet Gum Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Lane Roberts’

Next to the Japanese Maples this is one of the best trees for autumn leaf colour.  In October and November its maple-like leaves turn into a kaleidoscope of colours ranging from butter-yellow to burgundy-red – sometimes on the same leaf!

Tony Russell - Autumn 2019