I love this time of year.
If the weather is decent and Autumn storms haven’t denuded the branches, you will more than likely get a beautiful display of colour on those varieties that can offer it. Some trees and shrubs who have stood there most of the year unnoticed suddenly more then earn their place by blazing beautiful shades of orange, red and yellow.
This has been a great year for colour, the Red Oak, Quercus rubra which I am constantly reminded is planted too close to the house has yet again given a fine display, I find it is more a deep rusty red then the scarlet reds that the equally lovely Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) gives. The Pin Oak is a great grower in the more acidic parts of the country, it will thrive in a damp spot and there is plenty gardens and fields that can offer that.
Another old reliable is the Liquidamber, which can grow in quite wet ground, I prefer the worplesdon as I think the leaf is more defined and it stands out better. Acer rubrum and its many cultivars are strong growers in Ireland, Autumn blaze is in our own garden and I look forward to it’s display every year.
Another favourite of mine is the Tupelo tree, Nyssa sylvatica. It is a slow grower, but gives lovely Autumn shades and in my garden at least holds its leaves a bit longer than others. A good portion of our garden sits on very heavy clay, so is prone to hold water and even be sodden at times, so my quest for trees that can give autumn colour and take the wet has been very rewarding, the Nyssa fits right into that category.
Perhaps one of the kings of Autumn colour is the Persian ironwood, Parrotia persica. It can go any shade from red, pink, orange through to yellow and usually can have a mix of all at the same time, mine tends more towards the yellow, but it is young yet and I am sure it will give more with time.
It is the colour yellow that actually got me thinking about Autumn colour, everyone wants the reds but having a spattering of yellows in the mix really sets the other colours off, there is also nothing quite like the morning or evening Sun hitting and highlighting the butter yellows in the garden. Some of the more reliable yellows that I like would be Acer cappadocium aureum, which has yellow leaves from Spring onwards, Ginkgo biloba can also wow with its fine display as can the Larch. Populus tremula, our native aspen is a much underplanted tree, there is a few stands near me and every Autumn I keep an eye out for the yellow leaves trembling in the breeze. Acer platanoides, the Norway maple can go different shades, but the ones near me are mostly fine yellows. Acer campestre, the Field maple also has its good years while Birches in general tend towards yellow. There is loads of different trees I could mention for Autumn colour, the few listed above are only but a taste, the main point is don’t forget the yellows when thinking that you need a bit of Autumn colour in your garden.
Matt Keane from Future Forests