JOHN’S JOURNAL

The Best Plants for Colourful Autumn Leaves

Mother Nature’s colour palette really goes up a peg in the Autumn, not only from late flowering plants but the crescendo of colours from the Autumn foliage is always spectacular, just before these plants drop their leaves and then enter their winter dormancy. There’s so many plants which come into their own during late Autumn so let’s have a look at my top 3 plants for Autumn leaves

JAPANESE MAPLES – The number one plant for Autumn colour with their dainty leaves and lovely habit of miniature trees, great for a pot or container as you can move them around the garden then to avoid the mid summer bright sunlight, there’s many varieties with green, orange or red foliage and then the bright colours of Autumn come through once they get into October, some of them also have brightly coloured stems like Acer ‘Sango Kaku’ commonly known as the Coral Bark Maple.

LIQUIDAMBAR – One of my favourite trees with it’s Maple like pointed foliage, green through the season then it comes to life as the year goes on, available as small trees and also shrubs. The leaves are green during the growing season and then they begin to turn a dark maroon, followed by a scarlet red, then to orange and finally to bright yellow! The beauty of a Japanese Maple but they also stand up to more exposed sites and wetter soils.

HAMAMELIS – Commonly known as Witch Hazels and these really come into their own not only in the Autumn with their fiery coloured foliage but then in the depth of Winter with their frilly bright coloured clusters of flowers. They have a leaf just like a Hazel and the Autumn colour of the leaves corresponds to the colour of the flowers, available in red, orange and yellow and they also bear a delightful zesty fragrance of oranges and lemons, perfect for the Autumn and Winter garden.

At the nursery the colours of Autumn are all around and last week we reached a great milestone with the reopening of the cafe space as our new ‘Tales of The Reading Room Kitchen’, somewhere where you can enjoy a bite to eat in the shelter and warmth whilst immersing yourself in a tale or two from one of our many gardening books! Our plan since Covid has always been to come back with something similar yet different, we are also on the hunt for someone to come along and take over and run the food business with it being up for lease…..not the nursery as some rumours suggest! We do hope to see you soon and show you what we have been busy with, and it’s a great improvement for us whilst we approach the winter months.

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

What soil do Acers like to grow in?

Japanese maples like to be either in the ground in a normal soil with some organic matter mixed in to break up the clay, they don’t want to be in standing water in the winter yet they don’t mind the rainfall of the Ribble Valley. They are also perfect for growing in a pot where you would use a John Innes No.3 compost and then mix in some ericaceous compost as this helps enrich their leaf colour.

How do I make compost from leaves?

The laboursome bit is collecting them at this time of year, yet it helps keep things tidy and prevents them from rotting down and sticking to the paths and lawn. Gather them up and then make a stack in the corner of the garden, it can be anywhere, sun or shade, Then cover it and leave it for several months, then get in there and turn it with a fork, then leave it again. Over the course of 18months it will then rot down into compost and be perfect for mixing in with any new planting.

Should I plant a tree in my garden?

Trees are great for adding height to a garden, and carefully positioned they can also add privacy. Don’t just plant them on the boundaries as you have to consider the size the tree wants to go to, yet you can trim trees lightly twice per year to restrict their growth. This way they then fit the space they are going into, you often get great Autumn colour along with something you can then hang bird feeders from, and it helps break up the space. White birch are beautiful with their white stems during the Winter months.

 

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

1 – GATHER LEAVES

Keep on top of gathering your leaves up and either make yourself a stack to turn into compost or place them in your green wheelie bin

2– PLAN YOUR PLANTING

It’s still the planting season for hardy plants and it’s also time to begin planning for Spring 2023, start thinking of new ideas and combinations.

3 – BULB PLANTING

There’s lots of bulbs to choose from to add instant colour to your pots and border in the Spring and it’s the perfect time to plant them

4 – PUMPKIN LANTERNS

If you haven’t carved your pumpkin already then now is the perfect time, don’t forget the tea lights to light up your creation!

 

PLANT OF THE WEEK

LIQUIDAMBAR ‘Gumball’

A beautiful form which can either be trained as a ball on a stem, or grown as a ball like shrub, it naturally grows in a rounded shape with its signature Maple shaped leaves turning every shade of red, orange and yellow in the Autumn. Liquidambars also produce a very sweet, fragrant resin from the bark when cut, which can be collected and used for making incense and perfume.