Most people associate autumn with falling leaves, bare branches, and everything essentially ‘dying down’. However, if you strategically plant trees and shrubs that flourish in the autumn and winter months, you will enjoy a beautiful and colourful display that will brighten up those gloomy mornings.
We’re not just talking about fiery leaves that light up the garden before they fall, although they make quite the spectacle. Some autumnal shrubs still flower throughout the later months of the year; their colourful petals making a stark contrast against the dwindling summer bedding plants and shrubs.
Other autumnal shrubs produce fruit, such as the Cotoneaster ‘Cornubia’, whose berries sustain a variety of birds during the colder months when they need to pack themselves full of nutrients to survive.
Read on for our top six spectacular shrubs for a burst of autumnal colour:
Abelia x Grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’
This lovely dwarf shrub delivers colour throughout the year, producing trumpet-shaped blooms in the summer and autumn months. It hints at autumnal colour all year round, but these subtle hues become more pronounced as summer merges into autumn, taking on red and orange tones.
The flowers, white tinted with pink, are fragrant and attract a variety of wildlife, providing valuable sustenance as the temperature cools.
The leaves are evergreen, but in cooler spots, they may prove to be semi-evergreen.
Euonymus Alatus, Winged Spindle
An inconspicuous, dark-leaved shrub for most of the year, the Euonymus Alatus can easily be overlooked in the garden. However, watch it steal the show in autumn!
Its leaves turn the most vibrant shades of crimson and scarlet, an especially stunning feature in an open sunny space, mixed border, or even as a statement in the front garden.
Best grown in moist but well-drained soil in full sun, prune damaged or crossing branches in late winter through to spring.
Acer Palmatum ‘Osakazuki’, Japanese Maple
This is simply one of the most striking Japanese Maples for autumn colour. A deciduous tree, its leaves are bright green throughout the spring and summer months, before turning bright orange in autumn.
This attractive flaming display lasts for several weeks before the leaves fall, carpeting the ground underneath in a beautiful, brilliant layer.
Thriving in partial shade, the Acer Palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ likes moist but well-drained soil, and should be sheltered from cold winds. It can grow in a large container but will need to be regularly watered.
Hamamelis Virginiana, Virginiana Witch Hazel
One of the rarer autumnal shrubs, the Virginian Witch Hazel is certainly striking. A deciduous shrub, bright yellow and orange flowers bloom on the bare, leafless branches in autumn, their petals long and narrow.
These scented blooms remain long after the leaves have dropped, an eye-catching contrast to the otherwise barren shrub. For a unique autumnal display, look no further than the Hamamelis Virginiana! Just ensure that it’s in full or partial sunlight, and is planted in moist but well-drained soil.
Ceratostigma Willmottianum, Chinese Plumbago
This has to be one of our favourite autumn blooms of all time.
The Ceratostigma Willmottianum is recognisable by its vivid blue flowers which appear in the autumn, making a beautiful contrast to the reddening leaves. These eye-catching deciduous shrubs would make lovely border statements, planted alongside some of our previously mentioned shrubs.
Hardy, they like either full or partial sun and don’t mind too much exposure to the elements. Just ensure they’re planted in moist but well-drained soil, and enjoy the blooms!
Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Variegata’, Siberian Pearl Dogwood
This suckering variety can either be deciduous shrubs or trees, or creeping perennials. Providing year-round interest, the Siberian Pearl Dogwood has red stems in spring and summer, producing green leaves with creamy margins.
As the seasons change and we come into autumn, the stems begin to harden and turn a deeper shade of red, and the leaves take on a crimson tinge which deepens as time goes on. Adding further interest, this shrub can produce white berries which look beautiful against the red background of the leaves and stems.
Preferring full or partial sunlight, plant in moist but well-drained soil for a healthy and happy plant.
We don’t know about you, but we’re ready for the scented candles, thick woollen jumpers, and falling leaves! Autumn is one of our favourite times of the year thanks to the colourful display that many trees put on for us.
If you don’t live close to any woodland or forestry but still want to experience some autumn colour, try planting one or two of the above shrubs in your garden. Sit back with a hot cup of tea or coffee, and enjoy their fiery displays.