Autumn colour in the garden is one of the great and underrated delights. Too often looking around the garden in August can reveal just a show of tired foliage and absence of colour.
Planning a garden which comes to life again from September onwards is simple and not expensive and provides a lift for the spirits with colour shape and style which means the garden can run through to as close as Christmas as possible so the winter gap is shortened even further.
Vitis vinifera “Spetchley Red’
This grape vine has leaves that go a really good shade of red come late summer and into autumn; from the famous gardens at Spetchley in Worcestershire it’s perfectly hardy and also carries crops of small black edible grapes but is really grown for the beautiful colour of the leaves. The colour remains true in all weather conditions.
If I were to decide to have a National Collection of plants, at the top of my list of potential candidates would be potentillas, commonly known as cinquefoils. The 500 species in this genus come in many forms; shrubs, annuals, biennials and perennials, which are mostly confined to the northern hemisphere. Their habitats range from lowlands to mountains and are found as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as Mexico.
They are members of the family Rosaceae, the Rose family, and due to a similarity in leaf can be mistaken for their close relative the strawberry. In fact they are sometimes known as the Barren Strawberry. Unfortunately the resemblance stops there as they produce dry inedible fruit. Delicious fruit as well would be just a little too perfect.
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If your garden needs more colour at the end of summer then here’s some options to lift the spirits in the autumn weeks ahead
Giant autumn vegetables, celebrity speakers and a celebration of the harvest season form the basis of the Malvern Autumn Show which returns on 23rd and 24th September.
Gill Heavens selects her favourites from members of the rose family commonly known as cinquefoils
The Bournemouth Orchid Society holds its second show of the season on Saturday, 30th September at the Allendale Community Centre in Halham Road, Wimborne.
The first meeting of the autumn for Dorset Hardy Plant Society starts with one of their favourite speakers - Marina Christopher of Phoenix Plants from Alton in Hampshire.
Mapperton House is a glorious Dorset sandstone manor in the heart of Hardy country, home to the Earl and Countess of Sandwich.
A cottage garden with colour themed borders, pleached limes and hidden gems, leading over a chalk stream to a shady area which has some unusual plants. Plenty of areas just to sit and enjoy the wildlife. Wire bird sculptures by local artist.
Open for the NGS: Thursday 7th September, 2pm-5pm. Admission £4, children free. Cream teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement.
Nick Macer and James Hitchmough (who pioneered flower meadows at the 2012 Olympic Park) have been extensively involved in this developing garden, started in 2010 following completion of the house, with formal gardens, a perennial meadow, pinetum and an arboretum.
Open for the NGS: Sunday 27th August, 2pm-5pm. Admission £10, children free, with home- made teas included in admission. Pre-booking essential, please visit www.ngs.org.uk/events or phone 01483 211535 for information & booking. Partial wheelchair access.
Described as one of ‘Capability’ Brown’s finest English landscapes Croome is the perfect place to escape the crowds. Acres of parkland peppered with statues, temples and follies await your discovery with the lake a perfect spot to relax and enjoy the tranquility or perhaps enjoy a stroll along the river.
The court, the centrepiece of Croome’s great estate and seat of the Coventry family for more than 600 years, tells its story in new and inventive ways with exhibitions and installations.