Carol’s top eight

Gardeners' World - - Autumn Colour -

1 Fothergilla ma­jor Mon­ti­cola Group

In spring, there are fluffy, spher­i­cal catkins, while in au­tumn, the round, hazel-like leaves change to a kalei­do­scopic ar­ray of reds, or­anges and am­bers, of­ten be­com­ing pure yel­low. Height x Spread 1.5m x 1.5m ( in 5-10 years)

2 Acer pal­ma­tum ‘Osakazuki’

This has the best colour of all the Ja­panese ac­ers, slowly turn­ing from rich green to bril­liant scar­let. Each day there is a quan­ti­ta­tive change as though Mother Na­ture’s paint­brush was mix­ing in a lit­tle more crim­son un­til the crescendo is reached. HxS 4m x 4m ( in 10-20 years)

3 Hy­drangea quer­ci­fo­lia

The oak-leaved hy­drangea has trusses of creamy-white flow­ers in late sum­mer and its large ‘oak’ leaves pro­duces rus­sets, reds and or­anges in Oc­to­ber, the epit­ome of au­tumn colour in just one shrub. It colours best in full sun. HxS 1.5m x 2.5m ( in 5-10 years)

4 Cot­i­nus ‘Grace’

An ex­pan­sive ver­sion of the smoke bush, its large, round leaves are bronze-pur­ple through­out sum­mer, then be­come im­bued with red in au­tumn. In some years − and this is one of them − it pro­duces heads of ‘smoky’ flow­ers. HxS 8m x 4m ( in 10-20 years)

5 Sor­bus ‘Joseph Rock’

One of the most out­stand­ing of the moun­tain-ash clan, it cre­ates a sen­sa­tional au­tumn dis­play as its leaves be­gin to change to red, crim­son and pur­ple, a spec­ta­cle that is en­hanced by its glo­ri­ous pale-yel­low fruits. HxS 12m x 8m ( in 20-50 years)

6 Cer­cidi­phyl­lum japon­icum

The ‘kat­sura’ is surely one of the most de­sir­able of all trees. As its el­e­gant rounded leaves turn al­most im­per­cep­ti­bly to soft am­ber and pink, they si­mul­ta­ne­ously be­gin to emit the un­ex­pected aroma of tof­fee ap­ples. HxS 12m x 8m ( in 20-50 years)

7 Vibur­num op­u­lus

Our na­tive ‘wa­ter elder’ makes heads of ex­quis­ite white flow­ers in late spring, fol­lowed by al­most translu­cent red berries. In its fi­nal glory, they are an ac­com­pa­ni­ment to deep-crim­son leaves. A splen­did shrub that thrives in clay soils. HxS 4m x 4m ( in 10-20 years)

8 Cor­nus san­guinea

This dog­wood has su­perb au­tumn colour, vis­i­ble from far afield (or when you’re driv­ing along mo­tor­ways, es­pe­cially in south­ern Eng­land). When leaves have fallen, its bright-red twigs go on mak­ing a valu­able con­tri­bu­tion. HxS 2.5m x 2.5m ( in 5-10 years)

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