I was born in the autumn and I love everything about the season, Keats ‘Season of mellow fruitfulness’ seems to sum it up exactly and is one of the poems I remember from my schooldays.
The garden is still full of colour in September. The trees are taking on their autumn tints and I feel every garden should try and make space for one tree or shrub with autumn colour. I especially like Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Boyd’s Dwarf’, it is a small tree with an umbrella shape, the leaves go wonderfully orange and red as well as smelling of burnt sugar. I see visitors walking past trying to discover where the scent is coming from! Parrotia persica is another tree or large shrub which turns yellow, orange and red, it also keeps its leaves until the end of November. It is a wide spreading shrub and too big for most gardens but there is now a good fastigiate form called Parrotia ‘Vanessa’ which is narrow, still has amazing autumn colour but possible for most gardens
Flowers, Berries and Autumn Colour
Sorbus are small trees which are ideal for small gardens and not only have flowers, berries but several have spectacular autumn colour. I especially Like Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ with soft yellow berries and late maroon and scarlet foliage, there is now a small fastigiate form called Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire’ which makes a narrow pillar but still has the same berries and amazing autumn colour. Sorbus cashmiriana has large white berries, Sorbus vilmorinii, pretty clusters of pink berries and both have the added bonus of good autumn colour.
Prunus sargentii, is the cherry to choose for autumn colour and it also has masses of large soft pink flowers in the spring.
The hips on roses are at their best now, the easiest to grow are the Rugusa roses, we have a hedge and it is covered with large single flowers of white and deep pink which are ideal for the bees, followed by bright yellow foliage and large hips, they were used in the war to make rose hip syrup. We find the Greenfinches especially enjoy them.
Asters at their best
In the borders the Asters are at their best. Several have had name changes and Aster Twilight which is an excellent form for shade with large soft lavender flowers, has now become Eurybia ‘Twilight’! Aster ‘Pink Star’ is another favourite, 3ft, needs no staking and is a mass of tiny pink flowers, good to pick. If you would like a taller Aster then look for Symphyotricum, the new name for most Asters, and the forms of S. novae-angliae which are 4ft and come in many colours from white through to deepest purple and none of them suffer from mildew which other forms are prone to. I especially love another September flower, Leucanthemella serotina which continues flowering until the frosts, it has large white daisy flowers, is tall but does not need any staking and lasts well when picked, I do the Church flowers in October and always use it.
I hope you have found this series of blogs highlighting some of the best seasonal plants.