Here in the UK we never get the magnificent autumn colour that I have seen on blogs such as Beth’s at Plant Postings. This Autumn has been incredibly mild and we haven’t had the cold frosty nights which help to create really brilliant autumn colour. Nevertheless, we are lucky in Suffolk to be able to visit a wonderful 20-acre arboretum, East Bergholt Place, which was laid out at the turn of last century by the great-grandfather of the present owner Rupert Eley who has a nursery here called The Place For Plants. It is beautiful in Spring, but it is also fantastic in Autumn.
One of my favourite trees for Autumn colour is the Liquidambar. I believe it is best to choose it in leaf to get the leaf colour you want. ‘Worplesdon’ fires up quite early and seems to be quite reliable in its dark red colour.
The rare Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Burgundy’ gets its autumn colour later and it is only just beginning to colour up now. But it holds on to the leaf colour much longer.
Liquidambar styriciflua ‘Palo Alto’ is another rare tree with a great autumn colour.
The next one Liquidambar stryricflua ‘ Stared’ has has really deep cut, star-shaped leaves.
The other star amongst Autumn trees is of course the Acer and there are so many of them with fantastic autumn colouring. My personal favourite is Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’, but if you have room for a large tree how about this wonderful Acer rubrum ‘Scanlon’? I was bowled over by the fiery red leaves.
On a much smaller scale, this lovely little Acer var. dissectum ‘Viridis’ would fit into any garden. I fell in love with it.
One of the attractions of the next one, Acer palmatum ‘Nicholsonii’ was the fact that it has beautiful red keys as well as fantastic red coloured leaves.
I don’t think that I would ever choose a Prunus for its autumn colour but Prunus serrulata ‘Royal Burgundy’ has red foliage all summer and the colour intensifies in the Autumn. I am not very keen on big blowsy cherry blossom though, so this tree won’t be finding a place in my garden.
Having spent quite a bit of time this week trying to get rid of yet another horrible Viburnum tinus, (2 gone, 6 to go) I am reluctant to say nice things about one of its family. But Viburnum furcatum is rather special. Its flowers are lovely and look at its autumn dress.
If you like your autumn colour to be butter -yellow rather than red and orange then how about a lovely Maidenhair tree, or Ginkgo? This unuusual tree has no relatives, it is a living fossil dating back 270 million years.
Another lovely tree for golden-yellow, autumn foliage is the Shagbark Hickory, Carya ovata. This wonderful tree is one of the stars of the arboretum at this time of the year. Standing under it is like standing in a pool of sunshine.
Rupert Eley has The National Collection of Euonymus , so every year I go along to enjoy some colour and look at the Euonymus. I will show you some of the Euonymus collection in my next post, but for now here are a few fruits and berries that caught my eye.
As you drive in to the nursery there is a row of Rowan trees. It is a pink variety of Sorbus hupehensis which looks wonderful against a blue sky.
In the arboretum there is a large white Sorbus which I believe is a Japanese variety called Sorbus glabrescens; although I may be wrong, there was no label.
I have always loved the amber berries of Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’.
I noticed the following tree for the first time this year. I believe it is a seedling of ‘Joseph Rock’. It has very large berries which are a particularly vibrant and shiny shade of amber. It is called Sorbus ‘Copper Kettle’.
I love the genus of Malus because of their beautiful blossom and the wonderful fruit in Autumn, which in some cases lasts into the winter. I have a huge specimen of the ubiquitous Malus ‘Golden Hornet’ in my garden which someone planted years ago. It is a lovely sight at the moment but there are better yellow ones around now.
If I was choosing a yellow -fruited crab apple now I would go for the lovely rosy- tinted yellow ‘Butterball’ or the gorgeous Malus ‘Comtessa de Paris’ which has lovely, yellow fruit which last until Christmas and don’t seem to turn the nasty brown colour which looks so awful later on ‘Golden Hornet’.
We may not all have room for a tree but there are so many shrubs with lovely berries to delight at the moment. I love the shiny black berries of Aronia melanocarpa and the lovely autumn foliage sets them off beautifully.
If you prefer red then how about the amazing berries on this Berberis georgii?
I would love one but it is hard to get hold of; there is a waiting list for it at the nursery here, because everyone who sees it in the arboretum wants one. I believe the berries are sterile so propagating it is a slow process.
Another unusual shrub with masses of red berries is an unusual Viburnum. I didn’t see this one in the arboretum at East Bergholt. The next photograph was taken at the wonderful West Acre Gardens nursery in North Norfolk.
The birch-leaved Viburnum is quite scarce but for an amazing berry display it is unbeatable. The only drawback is that it is a bit drab and boring at other times of the year.
I will finish with another unusual fruit which I saw in the garden at West Acre. The amazing fruit of Akebia quinata.
Now that’s something you don’t see very often. I believe you need more than one plant in order to get fruit.
I really wish that all or some of the lovely plants I have shown you today were in my garden. And I wish that my garden had elastic boundaries. I really need an arboretum. Don’t we all? I have a book by George Courtauld called ‘An Axe, a Spade and Ten Acres‘ and the author says that these things are the necessities of life. He adds that an adequate supply of hot water, books and lavatory paper are the luxuries. Perhaps he has a point. Like most of us, I seem to have the luxuries but not all the necessities.