Autumn colour in the garden

As the temperature drops, leaves respond with dramatic changes in colour. From yellows and oranges to burnt reds and ochres, nothing gives us that 'autumn feeling' more than the turning of the leaves. Here are some highlights: all easily grown in Irish gardens.

Autumn colour in the garden centre: Cotinus, Acer, Nerine, Hydrangea 'Limelight', Fothergilla.

Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia'

Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia' (Golden honey locust): an excellent tree for small to medium-sized gardens. This tree has 'autumn colour' from spring until late autumn, as the leaves are a wonderful shade of pale yellow. In Autumn this yellow deepens to a very rich shade. This is a tree that prefers some shelter from strong winds, and it grows well near walls or houses: it is a popular street tree in many countries and it has a tall, narrow habit. Its small leaves never cast too heavy a shadow and its light, shimmering foliage brightens up a dark spot in the garden.

Hamamelis x intermedia (Witch hazel): there are lots of different varieties of Witch hazel, depending on the size and colour of the winter flowers. Hamamelis has fabulous autumn colour and is a highly prized shrub for a lightly-shaded part of the garden. It makes an excellent specimen plant or can be part of a woodland garden. The leaves are similar to our native Hazel (Corylus, which also has excellent autumn colour) but with more shades of orange and red. It requires soil that is neutral to acid and grows to an approximate height and spread of 3 m x 3 m.

Hamamelis x intermedia

Fothergilla major (Mountain witch alder): this shrub from East coast USA is rarely planted in Ireland, which is a shame as it has plenty to offer in Irish gardens. With brilliant autumn colour - dark rish shades of orange and red - it also has delightful fluffy creamy-white flowers in spring. It is a fairly compact shrub wchich grows to approx 1.5 m wide to 2 m tall. Ideal for a wodland garden, it prefers the shelter of taller trees above as many North American species dislike our late, unpredictable frosts. The cover of taller trees can protect plants from this. It alsogrows well in a container but, like Wich hazel, requires neutral to acidic soil.

Fothergilla major - stunning colour. The fluffy cream-coloured flowers in spring are also gorgeous.


Schizostylus major (Kaffir lily): An excellent late-flowering perennial plant for those difficult spots in the garden. Schizostylis is a strappy leaved perennial with cup-shaped pale red flowers from late summer to early winter. A remarkable feature of this plant is how late in the year it flowers. It prefers fertile soil, sun or light shade and can also thrive in moist or damp soils.

Disanthus cercidifolius: Disanthus has heart-shaped leaved, similar to those of the better-known Cercis (Judas tree) which turns a range of vibrant reds, purples and oranges in autumn. This small-medium-sized shrub prefers acidic soil and grows best in half sun, half shade. Protect from strong winds, keep out of full sunlight, and ideally locate it at a woodland edge or in dappled shade.

Rhus 'Dissecta'

Nerine bowdenii 'Alba' (Naked ladies): Native to South Africa, Nerine bowdenii is a very resilient and long-lived bulbous perennial with rich pink flowers in late summer and autumn - a white flowering variety is also available. The flower stems come out of the ground without leaves (hence the colourful common name). A plant for a sunny, well-drained site, and ideal for a warmer spot in the garden where they frequently thrive and spread. They require little care, once established, and although they can form a dense colony, they don't require dividing. Makes a fine plant for a container.

Hydrangea 'Limelight': This Hydrangea is very different from most: the creamy green flowers apper in sprays in late summer and autumn. The flower colour is hard to define, ranging from creamy-white to lime green fading to pink. The flowers make excellent cut flowers for flower arranging and can also be dried. The flowers are large and numerous and can last on into the autumn. Plant in light shade or shade in moist, well-drained soil. Cut back hard each spring, removing the previous year's growth. A much praised plant, ideal for most garden situations and very hardy.

Cotinus 'Grace': Cotinus is a really attractive shrub, with big, spoon-shaped flowers in varipus shades of green and purple. 'Grace' is an especially good variety because of the extra large leaves and stunning autumn colour. This bush or small tree has fabulous leaves, in shades of green overlaid with red and brilliant autumn colour. Plant in most garden soils - well-drained and fertile. It can grow to be a small tree with interesting lower branches. Good as a speciman plant, in a shrub border or at a garden boundary where it ca be left to grow up to 3 metres in height.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia


Acer 'Bloodgood'

Fallen leaves in Dublin's Fitzwilliam Square

 See directions to our Garden Centre at 27-28 The Crescent, Monkstown, Co Dublin....