Home Ground

Gardening with Anne McKeon

I think that the autumn colour this year has been particularly beautiful. Trees clothed in their autumn coats are so picturesque. Now that the beauty of autumn is fresh in your mind, plan ahead for next autumn.

This year I feel that cherry trees seem to be more colourful than in other years. We often fault them because their flowering period in spring is so short, but I feel that they more than repay us by providing such colour in the form of their russet coloured leaves at this time of year. Other trees that really stunned me with their beauty this year were sweet gums (Liquidambar ) chestnuts, birch, and beech. Consider planting trees for autumn effect in your garden so that you can benefit by them from next year onwards.

At present the colourful Rhus typhinia and Euonymus alatus growing in my garden are prompting people to stop their cars to ask me for their names. What is it about autumn colours that warm the heart? In front of Rhus, I have a female Skimmia, laden with red berries. It is a site to behold and useful for the birds. In order to get berries on your Skimmia you will need a male plant growing nearby. The male has his uses!

Another berrying plant that I have in my front garden is the Pernettya mucronata. Again in this case, male and female plants are required.

No home should be without a cotoneaster or two. I know that some of them can be like weeds, and obviously I would think twice about planting those varieties, but a must have is the small tree/large shrub version, Cotoneaster salicifolia. It has it all, grace, evergreen, good autumn colour, and berries. What more could you want?

I have a particular fondness for the old fashioned shrub roses, Rosa rugosa. Not only have they beautiful flowers but they also have large ‘hips’ (the berrying type, I mean! ) and beautiful autumn foliage. An added feature is that they are very thorny and so are useful for filling unwanted access gaps.

Other more obvious berrying plants would be the various holly types (Ilex species ), many Euonymus species, Malus (crab apple ) types, rowan trees (Sorbus species ), and so on. The choices are endless.

Finally another plant worthy of mention for its autumn colour is Viburnum maresii. This Viburnum is know for its white wedding cake type flowers in June, but it will also wow you with it autumn effect. Be sure to plant one if you have space.

Happy gardening!

Anne.

Garden checklist

• Prune late summer flowering shrubs.

• Tidy up and divide herbaceous plants.

• Autumn feed your lawn.

• Service garden machinery such as mowers and store them safely until they are required again next spring.

• Continue planting bulbs. It is still not too late to do so.

• Take hardwood cutting of 10 to 12 inches long. Place outdoors.

• Tie back and support climbing plants.

• Plant deciduous trees and shrubs, ie, plants that lose their leaves in winter.

• Stake and tie unstable and newly planted trees.

• Remove dead and dying leaves from herbaceous plants and from rockeries.

• Continue making hardwood cuttings.

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