What is the best tree for autumn colour and interest?

Contrary to the weather forecast it was a beautiful weekend and there are now the first signs of spectacular autumn colour beginning to show. Every autumn is different which adds to the fun this time of year and even a common native tree can surprise you with its fabulous autumn display. I saw this Prunus avium on the boundary of our local supermarket and it stood out splendidly across the expanse of the car park. The lovely autumn tints of Acer platanoides Pacific Sunset are also coming through and have prompted me to add this clone to our range for sale form September 2016 onwards. It is not only leaf colour that can draw the eye, the fruits on Euodia hupehensis are a stunning red and are particularly vivid against a blue sky.

However, for sustained autumn interest from early September to late November there can surely only be one winner! The Liquidambar styraciflua Worplesdon in my garden gently started turning a few weeks ago and already there are hints of yellow and orange emerging within the dense canopy of leaves. In a months’ time the crown will be a stunning claret and the pretty maple shaped leaves are stubborn to detach themselves from the tree even in a strong autumnal wind. What is more, there never seems to be anything that eats or predates on Liquidambar leaf throughout the growing season so when it does change for its autumn show its leaves are perfect in every way. It certainly is a show stopper with people walking up my road always commenting on it this time of year and asking what it is!

My Liquidambar Worplesdon never fails to deliver but is a medium to large tree at maturity so it is not suited for every garden. The Hamamelis Arnold Promise in my garden is only about 1.5m tall but is routinely smothered by luminescent orange to red leaves which are hard to beat for a small multi stemmed tree. This has been turning for some weeks now as it wakes up for spring early, flowering in February / March. If you see an autumn stunner over the next few weeks and don’t know what it is, feel free to take a phone shot of it and send it through to us so we can get back to you with its identity.

Posted by Mike Glover

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