STAR LANDSCAPING PLANTS FOR AUTUMN
Acer Palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’
Just as the sakura cherry blossom heralds the arrival of spring, so too the turning of Maple leaves to brilliant hues of yellow, orange and red, signify autumn has arrived. In Japan this gives rise to leaf-viewing excursions into the mountains (momiji-gari), which hold a deeply spiritual significance. ‘Atropurpureum’ grows to four metres with leaves that turn fiery red in autumn. These Maples are perfect as a focal point in courtyards and smaller gardens, bringing interest tempered by a serene grace that in Japanese is referred to as kito or ‘at peace’.
Anemone x hybrid
These are one of the longest blooming perennials (6-8 weeks), adding brilliant colour to the garden as summer bloomers fade, and before autumn bloomers are yet to flower. Native to China and grown in Japan for centuries, ‘Elegans’ produces beautiful soft pink flowers borne on elegant, slender stems which sway gracefully in the wind and are surprisingly resistant to breaking. In fact the delicate appearance of this plant belies a general hardiness provided it gets enough water. Planted in beds and borders, anemones compliment a wide range of garden styles including cottage and coastal. They are also perfectly suited to larger naturalistic landscapes like prairie or meadow gardens.
Autumn crocus is perfect for adding a burst of colour to the autumn garden, springing forth without warning before its leaves appear. It is not a true crocus but a member of the lily family and will tolerate conditions ranging from full sun to part shade in well drained loam. It is common practice to plant autumn crocus just before, or as it blooms. Plant them under deciduous shrubs, along walkways or in mixed meadow plantings, or use a bulb planter to plant in the lawn where they will readily naturalise. Wait until they have finished blooming until you mow the lawn and they will repeat bloom year after year.
Crab apples are ideally sized for smaller gardens and renowned for their pink or white spring blossoms. Their autumn display can be just as impressive, putting on a multitude of scarlet or golden fruit which attract birds and contrasts strikingly with the turning autumn leaves. The tiny apples are exceptionally high in pectin and ideal for making fruit jelly or a golden hued fruit wine. On a trip to Sweden last year I had the good fortune to come across crab apple’s growing wild in a forest clearing, truly a sight to behold. Crab apples are tolerant of most soil types and do well in part or full sun provided they are well watered in dry periods. Their open and relaxed growth habit makes them perfect as a specimen tree.
The Japanese rose is indigenous to eastern Asia and southeastern Siberia where it is commonly found growing on coastal sand dunes. This vigorous, compact shrub flowers throughout summer with such profusion that the small, fragrant, pink flowers literally cover the beautifully deep green glossy leaves. As autumn approaches the Japanese rose produces a mass of bright red to orange coloured edible fruits called ‘hips’ which persist through to winter and are much loved by birdlife. Rosa rugosa is especially suited to cottage style gardens where it can be given pride of place as a singular specimen, or planted in mixed borders, but it is most popularly used to make a beautifully fragrant flowering hedge.