If we spend a bit of time in the garden or even a walk in the countryside we can really appreciate the Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, with fruits and berries on trees and shrubs and lots of Autumn coloured foliage giving us lots of orange, yellow and red leaves as we settle into the Autumn months. It’s an excellent time to plant trees and shrubs in the garden as soil is nice and moist and is still warm and the growth rate of the plants has slowed down so they find it easy to cope with a little disturbance and settle into their new home comfortably before they start to get busy growing in Spring & Summer. Autumn was once the busiest time for planting trees and shrubs but as container grown plants became more widely available planting is carried out throughout the year. If you are keen to add some drama to your garden with some Autumn planting I’ve a list of real show stoppers that will put on a beautiful show for you every Autumn. Trees that would do well in almost any garden that put on a great display from now right through to Winter include Crab apples which have bright colourful fruits and great foliage colour. Most are suitable for smaller gardens as they don’t get too big and their fruit hold well into the Winter months - Malus Evereste and Malus Gorgeous have beautiful red fruits or for a splash of yellow Malus Golden Hornet is a great choice. Crab apple trees are also an excellent pollination partner for apple trees as they flower for such a long time in Spring. Traditionally the fruit is used to make crab apple jelly - a great range of trees that are loved by wildlife and look fantastic at different times across the year. Another collection of plants that are great for berries are Cotoneaster - some are excellent shrubs used as ground cover or wall trained plants or the Cotoneaster Pendula the weeping tree that is smothered with berries at this time of the year - great as a specimen tree perhaps in the middle of a lawn area - it has evergreen foliage, flowers in the Summer and bright red berries in Autumn & Winter. An unusual shrub with clusters of bright purple berries - Callicarpa Profusion - sometimes known as the beauty berry - the berries are really eye catching so grow in an area where you’ll get to appreciate it’s great berries and Autumn foliage - does best in slightly acidic soil and is good in full sun or dappled shade, might reach around 7 or 8 feet, is hardy and has the RHS award of garden merit. Skimmia are another collection of plants that come into their own at this time of year and there are lots of different varieties to choose from - some with stunning red berries, some with tight pink flower buds that hold all Winter and open up in late Spring to white scented flowers. Skimmia are a super plant to grow in pots or containers - you can use some ericaceous compost or a good multipurpose mixed with some farmyard manure and keep them well watered. They tend to do best in partial shade and will even tolerate full shade and don’t need much in the way of pruning - so an easy, low maintenance shrub to grow. Skimmia Rubella produces red flower buds in Autumn that look attractive all Winter, opening to white flowers in Spring or Skimmia Reevesiana is low growing and has beautiful red berries or Skimmia Temptation or Skimmia Pabella are also excellent for their red berries. A few other plants to mention in brief include Cercis Canadensis Forest Pansy that has dramatic leaf colour in Autumn along with most Acers that put on a great Autumnal display. Virginia creeper and Boston ivies are superb climbing plants that are famous for Autumn colour. Euonymus Alatus - sometimes called burning bush is, as the name suggests, puts on a great display in Autumn. So plenty of plants to add some drama to your garden at this time of year and now is a perfect time for planting trees and shrubs in your garden either in beds or containers.
A few jobs for the week ahead;
- Planting Winter Onions and Garlic now in beds and containers will provide you with some tasty homegrown produce for next year - easy to grow and really tasty
- Plant up pots and window boxes with some cheerful Violas or Pansies adding some Cyclamen, Heathers and small skimmias
- If you have the remains of old crops clear them away so they don’t harbour pests and diseases in the vegetable patch through the winter
- Set your lawn up for the Winter with some Autumn Lawn Feed and consider scarifying and aerating the lawn
- Plant up your Spring flowering bulbs - Snowdrops, Daffodils, Tulips, Bluebells, Alliums a lots more varieties - great for pots and beds - consider doing layer planting for maximum effect