This past week its turned a bit chilly at night, you’ve probably packed away the shorts and are more than likely reaching more for the fleece when you’re walking the dog at night, perhaps you’ve even started to light a wee fire at night (on a side note remember to make use of the wood, turf and pellet ash in the garden).
Plants in the garden don’t mind the cold, like we said last week the change of weather has different effects depending on where the plants originate from – plants from around the equator are probably still in flower (Dahlias), whereas trees and other plants from the Northern Hemisphere are starting to ready themselves for winter, and one way many do this is to produce some pretty spectacular foliage colour as their leaves take on their Autumnal colours.
Shrubs such as Dogwood, famed for its bright red winter stem colour, firstly put on cracking red leaves. Witch Hazels, famous for their scented early spring flowers, enlighten us with fab golden autumn foliage and Trees such as the Liquidamber produce the most spectacular reds and purples of any tree in the garden, in my opinion (there’s a number of these been planted around Rockhill Estate as part of the redevelopment there and in 20 years time this will be an amazing sight).
What may surprise you is that this colour is always there, it just sits below the surface of the ‘green’ colour, and as the temperature cools, the green pigment in the leaf retreats back into the tree exposing the colours beneath… and with good plant choice you can have a garden full of Autumnal colour for a couple of months.
However, some years the colour will be better than others, this is due to the intensity of the summer light levels – the greater the light levels the better the Autumn colour, this combined with the narrowing of the Autumn light spectrum and you have a match made in golden foliaged heaven.
When I think of Autumn foliage I always think of the North East of America, famed for their Autumn colours and huge woodlands of Maples and Dogwoods. Locally to home large estate gardens, especially those with good concentrations of Beech and Oak Trees put on lovely shows of golden (rather than red) leaves – plan a trip to the Ervey Wood near Derry and you’ll see what I mean!
In our gardens we tend to focus on more modest specimens, more 6’ than 60’ when we want to introduce Autumn colours, look out for the Spindleberry – some varieties are smaller, the Burning Bush is a firey red autumn foliaged shrub, whereas the Spindleberry tree is 15’ tall delight of Autumnal colour (visit Oakfield Park and you’ll see these by the hundred in clumps in the lower gardens).
Other shrubs such as the aforementioned Dogwoods are excellent for damp gardens, larger shrubs like the Smoke Bush go from purple Summer foliage to Red Autumnal foliage.
But a great bit of advice I could share with you is to visit open gardens during the Autumnal months, and take pictures of plants which look exciting and you think would be great additions to your garden, in turn take this picture to your local garden centre and then ask the folks to source you one.
Fab Autumnal shrubs such as the Chinese Dogwoods aren’t commonly found in garden centres as they don’t sit well being in pots for a long period of time, but are easily sourced for landscaping projects, all you have to do is ask.Tags: