Create an autumn garden

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To create the perfect autumn garden you need to focus on foliage colour.

The colour spectrum of autumn is one worth planning for, when the flamboyant hues of summer have passed, the natural tones of this particularly special season set in. When planning your autumn garden, foliage is the real star but don’t forget to incorporate berries as well for an additional splash of colour. Not only do they look great, they also provide food for wildlife.

Autumnal tones of natural ochres, vibrant maroons and vivid reds from shrubs and trees can been combined with late flowering perennials for an added accent.

Here at the Big Plant Nursery we love autumn, for its changing colours. Acers, or Japanese Maples, are renowned for their seasonal shades and come in many shapes and sizes. We have a vast selection of Acers available that would complement any garden. Changing colour week by week, some of our favourites are: Sango-kaku, Fireglow, and Emerald Lace.

Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’


1. Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’ (sweet gum), is a broad-crowned medium-sized deciduous tree with maple-like leaves which turn to deep orange and yellow in autumn. Although its flowers are insignificant, it more than makes up for it in long lasting seasonal colour and funky seed pods. In our opinion, this is one of the best trees for Autumn displays available!

2. Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’ is a compact spreading deciduous shrub, developing prominent corky ridges on the branches. The small, green leaves turn rosy-red in autumn. Delicate green flowers are followed by striking red-purple fruits containing orange seeds. Try it as a hedge – another impressive performer at this time of the year.

3. Pyracantha, or Firethorn, is an attractive evergreen shrub that provides structure all year round. It produces generous numbers of berries in a range of shades from yellow through orange to reds. It can be grown as a wildlife hedge, and the thorns make it an ideal security hedge, ideal for those awkward boundaries.

4. Callicarpa, or Beauty Berry (below), has eye catching iridescent purple berries, striking enough to stop anyone in their tracks. Berries are great for colour and wildlife, especially if you aren’t a fan of bare branches.

5. Parthenocissus is vigorous deciduous climbers with either tendrils or disk-like suckers, and lobed or palmate leaves which often colour brilliantly in autumn. Inconspicuous green flowers are sometimes followed by attractive blue or black berries. P. tricuspidata is a very vigorous, self-clinging large deciduous climber. Leaves mostly ovate or three-lobed, turning brilliant crimson and purple in autumn.

6. Acers (Japanese maples) are a favourite in every Autumn garden. Renowned for their spectacular autumn colour, from the fine delicate leaves of Acer palmatum var. dissectum to the broader leaves of the Norway Maple, Acer platanoides ‘Drumondii’, here at the Big Plant Nursery we have an Acer for every garden.

Acer davidii

Here are some more unusual plants for autumn colour:

  • Hydrangeas (often the unsung heroes of an autumn garden, still providing colour as they go over)
  • Physocarpus opulifolius ‘All Black’
  • Cercis canadensis ‘Eternal Flame’ (Chelsea Flower Show: Plant of the Year 2021)
  • Festuca glauca ‘Intense Blue’
The warming glow of Hydrangea flowers going over in autumn

Autumn doesn’t mean your long lazy days in the garden have to come to an end. There are so many ways to continue to enjoy your garden well into the cooler months.

Invest in the right garden design, furniture and heating options and you can extend your garden living by several months. A fire pit is a great way to keep warm and can also be fun for the whole family, who doesn’t enjoy a toasted marshmallow!

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