If your garden needs more colour at the end of summer then here’s some options to lift the spirits in the autumn weeks ahead
Autumn colour in the garden is one of the great and underrated delights. Too often looking around the garden in August can reveal just a show of tired foliage and absence of colour.
Planning a garden which comes to life again from September onwards is simple and not expensive and provides a lift for the spirits with colour shape and style which means the garden can run through to as close as Christmas as possible so the winter gap is shortened even further.
Vitis vinifera “Spetchley Red’
This grape vine has leaves that go a really good shade of red come late summer and into autumn; from the famous gardens at Spetchley in Worcestershire it’s perfectly hardy and also carries crops of small black edible grapes but is really grown for the beautiful colour of the leaves. The colour remains true in all weather conditions.
Colchicum ‘ Waterlily’
Although often called autumn crocus, colchicums are not related to true crocuses. There are winter- and spring-flowering species, but the most common ones bloom in September and October. They flower when least expected, the large blooms suddenly appearing from the bare earth without any leaves – hence the common name ‘naked ladies’. All parts of the plant are poisonous, so wear gloves when handling the bulbs.
Aster ‘Little Carlow’
A deservedly popular aster with large sprays of pale, purplish/blue flowers in late summer/autumn. Flowers stand high above the foliage and last for weeks. It is hardy and tolerant of wide range of conditions. It comes into full colour in September and will stay around for weeks and doesn’t get affected by mildew which often puts off some gardeners from choosing Michaelmas daisies for their autumn displays.
With colourful fruits and foliage, crab apples look wonderful in autumn. Malus ‘Evereste’ is flushed with red-flushed, orange-yellow fruits in autumn that complement the orange-yellow leaves. It is an excellent tree for smaller gardens, with a pleasant conical shape. In autumn it gives another fantastic show, with good colour, and masses of red-flushed, orange-yellow fruits about an inch across, which hang on through the winter.
Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii is not very often grown, partly because several plants need to be grown together to produce good crops of the violet bead-like berries. However if you are attracted to this wonderfully colourful plant Callicarpa ‘Profusion’ is a great improvement, fruiting well on its own, with large packed clusters of the berries in mid-autumn, overlapping with the golden purple leaf tints and then lingering after leaf-fall.