Best trees for autumn colour
Add a little autumn magic to your garden with a magnificent tree
The Queen’s Green Canopy is an initiative to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, 70 years on the throne. She would like us all to plant a tree and here at Hayes we are trying to encourage everyone, no matter what the size of their garden, to have a go and find that perfect tree for their situation. Many small trees are suitable for growing in a large container and as such won’t reach their full potential as the container will restrict their growth. Autumn is when a lot of trees show their full glory; just at a time when the summer exuberance is over and we are dreading the dark winter days trees put on a fiery display of burgundy, scarlet, flame, orange and yellow.
Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple)
Not only does this small tree have beautiful red/ scarlet leaves in autumn but the bark peels to reveal stunning cinnamon coloured underlayer. Not one for a tiny backyard, even though it is a small tree it can still reach 15 – 20ft.
Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’
One of the most brilliant of all the Japanese maples, the green leaves turning flaming scarlet in autumn. Can be grown in a large container for many years. As with all the Japanese maples try and site out of the wind and midday sun, if this is not possible make sure that the compost never dries out.
Acer palmatum ‘Oshio-beni’
If you want a small tree whose leaves go through a myriad of colours; orange red through to bronze green and finally brilliant red in autumn then this is the tree for you. Suitable for growing in a large container.
Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’
This tree not only has buttery yellow leaves in autumn but also has red stems which look stunning in winter. It is a small tree and will grow quite happily in a large container for many years. As with most maples they thrive better out of the wind and the midday sun.
Amelanchier lamarckii (Snowy Mespilus)
Snowy white flowers in spring are followed by rich red leaves and black fruits in autumn. It makes a small tree suitable for growing in a large container.
Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura Tree)
Along with the pale lemon or dusky pink leaves in autumn you also get the delicious scent of candy floss when the temperature is right. It makes a medium sized tree so not one for the small garden.
Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ (Wedding Cake Tree)
One of the best value small ornamental trees, this produces small cream flowers in spring followed by black berries and often red foliage in autumn. The crowning glory of this small tree is the layered wedding cake habit and the cream and green variegated foliage. It is ideal for a small garden or large container, but the width often matches the height so give it plenty of space. It looks stunning underplanted with spring bulbs and hostas.
A small tree or large shrub, this beautiful species is covered in white or pink bracts in spring, followed by strawberry-like fruits then deep bronze/crimson leaves in autumn. It can be grown in a large container for many years.
Euonymus alatus compactus
An ideal tree/shrub for the small garden or large container. It is one of the best for autumn colour, turning a beautiful cherry red and as a bonus often has red/purple berries opening up to reveal orange seeds.
Euonymus europaeus ‘Atropurpureus’ (European Spindle)
This turns the same colour as E. alatus but is a considerably larger tree, however it can be kept pruned to manageable proportions. It also features the same striking pinky red berries with orange seeds.
Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair Tree)
One of the oldest trees on earth it produces stunning fan shaped leaves which turn a rich yellow in autumn. Not one for the small garden as it produces a large tree.
Liquidamber styraciflua (Sweet Gum)
A medium to large tree this produces some of the best coloured autumn leaves, varying from deep golden to rich crimson. Not one for the small garden. (Main image)
Rhus typhina (Stag’s Horn Sumach)
The autumn colours of this small tree, large shrub, are truly spectacular ranging from yellow, orange, red through to purple. If it is pruned almost to ground level every other year it will produce a ferny shrub.
Sorbus aucuparia ‘Eastern Promise’ (Rowan)
A fantastic all-round tree, you get flowers in spring, rose pink berries in autumn which are loved by the birds in winter and brilliant leaf colour, purple turning to bright flaming orange. A small to medium sized tree which can be grown in a container for many years.
Sorbus aucuparia ‘Joseph’s Rock’ (Rowan)
One of the best trees for wildlife and year-round interest, from the flowers in spring to clusters of creamy yellow fruits maturing to a deeper golden amber hue followed by leaves in a rainbow of colours; red, yellow, bronze and purple. The berries are an important source of winter food for the birds. It makes a small to medium sized tree but can be grown in a large container.