I look towards including shrubs and trees that alter their leaf colour around about this time of year. It's true that there are a handful of late blooming plants available, but my first choice would always be a plant with a fiery change of leaf colour to light up autumn into winter.
Large providers of autumn colour.Here are five of the trees you should be looking towards providing you with yellow, orange and red leaf colour over the coming months...
1. The maple trees, a prime example being the red maple (Acer rubrum). Green leaves with bluish-white undersides in summer become a blaze of red during a cold autumn. 2. Our native mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia). Its blue-green, fine leaves turning to yellow in autumn alongside bright berries.
3. The Liquidambar tree (Liquidambar styraciflua). Try to seek out the variety "Lane Roberts" and plant it into acid soil for the some of the best autumn reds you will ever see.
4. Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica) is a spreading tree whose large, deep green leaves turn yellow, gold, orange, purple and red in autumn.
5. Himalayan birch (Betula utilis jacquemontii) is mainly grown for its dazzlingly white bark colour, which comes to prominence over winter. However, to it credit it also boasts shimmering diamond shaped leaves with a welcome vibrant flush of yellow colour each autumn.
Smaller providers of autumn colour.Not got the space? Trees too large, or you feel they will cut out what little light you currently receive. Well try some shrubs instead...
1. Winged spindle (Euonymus alatus) or our native spindle (Euonymus europaeus) normally have dark-green leaves attached by short stalks to a mish-mash of reddish-brown stems. In autumn they come alive with vibrant shades of neon pink purple and red being displayed where once there was green.
From the spindle flowers a green 1cm wide fruit with four capsules is eventually formed, this ripens from September to November to a deep-pink almost red colour. At the height of this colour the fruits open to reveal four bright orange seeds below the wings of the capsule. When you take into account the fruit, seed and leaf colour exhibited by Spindle berry, then you have a plant to enliven November and December, two of the supposed darkest months in the colour calendar of your garden.
2. Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) is a small evergreen shrub with an upright 'bamboo-like' shape. Its normally green leaves convert to a purplish colour over autumn, winter and early spring. If this plant is new to you, then you should take note that it requires moist soil in a sunny and sheltered spot.
3. We all know the common mop-top Hydrangea, but the best Hydrangea for autumn leaf colouration is the oak-leaved Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). The blooms are nice, creamy white to pink flowers borne in branched clusters each summer. The large, deeply lobed leaves though are something else, turning lively shades of red, bronze and purple in autumn, then persisting through into winter.
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