After a fine summer of hot sunny days and balmy nights, it is that time of year again.
As the nights draw in it is easy to become downhearted at the thought of the winter to come. But as the weather cools a miraculous transformation is beginning. Deciduous trees and shrubs are slowly making their preparations for dormancy by stopping the flow of fluids into their leaves.
Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum, brings warmth and colour to autumn
This means that the green chlorophyll that usually masks out any other pigments present is diminished. The result is the phenomenon known as autumn colour.
A brisk walk on a chilly sunny day as the sun shines low in the sky while the countryside around you blazes with golds and reds is a breathtaking experience, and completely lifts any gloom at the passing summer.
In the garden, it is possible to harness that wonder of the autumn countryside and introduce trees and shrubs that will provide gorgeous colour and interest throughout the season.
Maples are probably the best-known family of trees to deliver a fantastic seasonal showcase of colour.
Acer freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’ is one of the most popular choices for autumn colour, their leaves glowing with shades of blush and crimson.
It will grow to a height of around 20 meters and for that reason is only suitable for medium to larger gardens.
For a stunning contrast why not plant with a Norway Maple Acer platanoides. This is another larger tree of up to 25 metres with autumn hues of amber gold.
The two can look fantastic when planted together along a driveway or boundary.
For a smaller garden A. platanoides ‘Crimson Sentry’ is a petite tree of around 9 meters.
It has gorgeous rich red wine leaves in summer that flush golden honey in autumn.
A. palmatum, the Japanese Maple, is a wonderful choice for some shocking autumnal colour for a courtyard garden.
Due to its size (only 5 metres fully grown), it can also grow very successfully in a pot.
One of the most celebrated trees for its stunning dramatic autumn display is Liquidambar styraciflua, the American Sweet Gum Tree.
The name refers to its sweetly fragrant resin. It is a large tree that can grow to around 30 meters, making it suitable for larger gardens. It has attractive maple-like leaves that explode into rich shades of apricot, ruby and aubergine.
At 30 meters this magnificent deciduous Conifer looks grand and regal when planted alone as a specimen allowing its loose and graceful bows to be fully appreciated against autumn skies.The Japanese Larch Larix kaempferi provides a contrasting texture with its bright autumn exhibit when its neat whorls of feathery needles turn warm shades of coppery caramel.