Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Let Autumn Colours Set Your Garden Ablaze

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Let Autumn Colours Set Your Garden Ablaze

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Surridge

Long periods of mild autumn weather, which Britain is experiencing increasingly, brings out the best in trees noted for their colourful foliage.

So, if you are thinking of planting a new tree or shrub, take those autumn tints into account and start choosing now.

Autumn leaf colour depends on type of soil, good drainage and aspect as well as spells of fine weather. But the choice of species is paramount.

Don't be tempted to plant a tree which will grow too large. In most gardens, small is definitely beautiful. Maples, oaks and even some kinds of rowan would soon throw heavy overhead shadow and might cause underground damage.

To satisfy the gardener without swamping his or her garden, there are many trees and shrubs which show excellent autumn colour - of leaves, berries or both.

Seek out autumn stunners suitable for small gardens, as long as they can be planted in reasonably sunny positions.

Here are some choice candidates...

The smoke tree, Cotinus coggygria, is an 8ft shrub which bears plumes of flowers looking from a distance like puffs of pink smoke, then the leaves take on red and copper shades in autumn.

The most fiery of all the Japanese maples, Acer palmatum `Osakazuki', is quite small but its foliage is positively exhibitionist - feathery green leaves turning through orange to a fierce scarlet. It also has red flowers in spring and attractive winged seeds in summer.

The vast maple family provides other colourful characters suitable for the garden, including two Acer palmatum varieties - `Dissectum' with bright bronze-orange foliage and `Atropurpureum' with finely-cut, wine-red leaves.

Rhus typhina, the well-known stag's horn sumach, is a reliable shrub for almost any type of ground, including thin soils, with large oval leaves turning deep crimson. But it can invade a lawn or other beds with spreading roots and new shoots growing some distance from the parent plant. And it can grow 6m (20ft) tall in fertile soil.

A lovely species of dogwood, Cornus kousa, is of similar size. After its magnificent white flower-bracts have been displayed, the elegant green leaves become a mass of orange-red. …

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