New ways with au­tumn colour

Fire and ice, parch­ment and pas­tels, pre­cious met­als – the au­tumn gar­den is rich in colour com­bi­na­tions just wait­ing to be un­leashed, says Val Bourne

Garden Answers (UK) - - Contents -

The Novem­ber gar­den is fired by vi­brant con­trasts – from the muted hues of plants re­treat­ing un­der­ground or los­ing their leaves to pre­pare for win­ter sleep, to the sat­u­rated colours of fiery au­tumn fo­liage, fruit, stems and late flow­ers that linger into Novem­ber. Brown, beige and khaki dom­i­nate now, but low au­tumn sun­light picks up ev­ery de­tail and en­hances the smoul­der­ing ac­cent hues to make them glow. Aro­matic sil­ver plants pro­vide a steely back­drop for th­ese colour­ful trea­sures, and their fo­liage gives your seven-spot la­dy­birds and spi­ders a place to shel­ter, too. Leave th­ese ‘ever-grey’ plants in­tact and cut them back in April when spring breaks through. It’s a good time to make full use of colour­ful grasses in reds, browns, parch­ments and frosted greens. Use them to ring an or­na­men­tal acer or small tree, or weave them through an au­tumn bor­der where they’ll glow like a se­ries of fi­bre-op­tic lamps. Fine-fronded grasses move and sway when it’s wet and windy, but also freeze-frame in frost to pro­vide el­e­gant ice sculp­tures. Use taller grasses as punc­tu­a­tion marks among bil­low­ing asters and make good use of all those earthy or­anges, bronzes and golds. They’ll lift your spir­its – even on a dreary Novem­ber day.

Lilac-flow­ered Aster amel­lus ‘Sil­bersee’ and Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis flat­ter the glow­ing hues of up­right grass Pan­icum vir­ga­tum ‘North­wind’, with a young red oak tree Quer­cus rubra

Am­so­nia hubrichtii

Sil­very mis­cant­hus ‘Sil­berfeder’ plumes con­trast with fiery im­per­ata ‘Rubra’ and yel­low

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