Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine
With the right plants your garden can see out the year in a blaze of colour, writes David Overend.
The final few months of the year are all about colour – the hues of plants which mark the passing of another year of growth. So many trees and shrubs go out in a blaze of glory, and if your garden hasn’t got any, then give it some thought – there are plenty of accommodating shrubs that will bring a blaze of colour to the dying of the year.
The stag’s horn sumach, Rhus typhina, earns its name from the velvet-like branch tips that precede small, yellowy-green flowers, but it is grown more for its foliage, which is transformed in autumn into a mass of reds and oranges.
It’s deciduous, it’s eye-catching and it’s great for a mixed border or even as a specimen tree in smaller gardens because it rarely grows to more than 15ft in height. It prefers sun and a moist but well-drained soil, and it’s relatively tolerant of pruning. One potential drawback is that it suckers profusely – so be prepared to remove any unwanted growth springing up from the ground.
Parrotia is grown for its peeling bark, attractive autumn colour and subtle winter flowers, all of which make it a great choice for autumn and winter.
Parrotia persica (Persian ironwood) is available in both a full-size form, which can reach a height and spread of 8m and 10m respectively, and a miniature form, (Parrotia persica ‘Pendula’), which grows to just 1.5m in height and 3m in width.
Cornus florida, or flowering dogwood, puts on a great show in late autumn when its mid-green summer leaves turn to red and purple. This tree reaches a height and spread of approximately 6m and 8m respectively.
Sorbus aucuparia, also known as mountain ash or rowan, is a real autumn glory as its berries, which have been developing through late summer, fully ripen. Its foliage also provides a spectacle as its leaves turn red and yellow. It may reach 15m in height and spread as much as 7m.
Liquidambar is a tree grown primarily for its autumn colour. Depending on species and variety, leaves can turn to yellow, orange, red or purple. Liquidambar orientalis can reach 6m in height. Other species and varieties can be bigger.
All these trees should do well on most fertile, humus-rich garden soils, though Liquidambar and Cornus prefer a neutral-to-acid soil.