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Best autumn garden colours

blackberry Loch Maree
Stunning colours of blackberry Loch Maree's leaves

Mild autumn = great shades of yellow, red, orange

It’s amazing what a hurried trip to put out the rubbish on bin day can reveal. Having been sidelined with sciatica for a while, the garden’s been left to its own devices.

However, I did have my phone in my pocket when I popped out and captured some pretty amazing autumn colours. Some of the pictures are of even worse quality than normal (I didn’t have my camera on me and the phone’s not brilliant) so I apologise.

First up is blackberry Loch Maree, a winner in all seasons; pink double flowers in spring, red and black shiny fruit, great autumn foliage and thornless stems with a white bloom in winter.

Also great on the deciduous front is the small Cotinus (smoke bush) I put in last year – much better foliage colour than the original and a great contrast with the Korean Gold yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia) next to it.

Rosa glauca’s another great autumnal plant, with its dark red hips (brilliant for wildlife), blue-tinged foliage turning yellow before it falls.

Later-maturing apples, especially reds such as my Red Falstaff, become an ornamental plant in their own right when they don’t have as much competition. This one fruits well in a half barrel – highly recommended.

I leave the dead heads on globe artichokes as long as I can, as they are so architecturally beautiful in their own way and give winter structure and height.

My little potted Camellia certainly shows up with its evergreen shiny green foliage against all these muted colours – not noticed in summer, but pulling its weight now. The Rodgersia in the long border has well and truly died down (it’s drier there) – quite a contrast to the hummocks of Carex grass (and the odd weed/nasturtium germinating). The big Rodgersia by the pond has some terrific colour still, seen here through the needles of Pinus strobus radiata, with its own yellow contribution.

Of the Weigelas, W. variegata Florida shows no signs of autumn colour change (it hung on to its leaves well into December last year), but W. Bristol Ruby’s purple tints are going a bit brown.

Finally, some forgotten heroes in autumn – the changing hues of Spiraea japonica Goldflame; the last throes of Helianthus Lemon Queen; an extra burst of flowers from Geranium Rozanne and newly revealed ground cover Heuchera Ebony and golden creeping Jenny.

The less there is, the more you appreciate it – so get planting for next autumn!

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