Gardening: Bring autumn colour to your garden

In The Garden with Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

Gardening: Bring autumn colour to your garden

Japanese Maple

Following on from last week's piece on shrubs that will provide some autumn colour, here are a few of our favourite trees that will bring some stunning shades from September right through into winter.


This is a really exciting new tree to us and amalgamates the best characteristics of its White and English Oak heritage to produce a fast-growing, hardy, columnar tree that’s a great fit for streetscapes and landscape settings. An upright habit and adaptability are inherited from English Oak (Quercus robur), while its dark green, mildew-resistant foliage and red autumn colour are inherited from the White Oak (Quercus alba). A fast growth rate makes this rugged oak a good choice for anchoring newer landscapes.

This tree reaches about 45 feet in height with a 15-foot spread in 20 years in a typical urban landscape setting. Dense foliage creates living screens for blocking unsightly views and muffling traffic sounds. It has proven adaptable to a wide range of climates and growing conditions.

Crimson Spire Oak is appreciated by growers for its ease of care, and by landscape designers for its columnar form and stately appearance. It is a perfect fit for narrow or confined spaces. Planted alone, in groves, or in rows, it’s the perfect vertical design element. Rich, dark green leaves stay fresh and bright through the heat of summer, turning rusty red to bright red in mid to late autumn.


This is a lovely, round-headed Pin Oak tree. It is a clone of Quercus Pallustris with magnificent autumnal colour and vibrant shiny summer leaves. It loves most free draining soils and is slow growing, forming a lollipop shape on top of the standard 1.8metre trunk onto which it is grafted. This is a lovely and architecturally pleasing garden tree that would suit a small garden or to create an avenue of trees. Its mature height is approximately 4m.


The Beech is a large but slow growing tree which colours a beautiful copper in late autumn. The Purple Beech has deep purple spring leaves that turn copper in the autumn but the tree does hold onto some of these leaves throughout the winter until the new shoots force them to fall. It likes well draining soil and does not reach its full height of 12-15m for 50 years.


Beech is a lovely tree as an espalier frame as, even though it is deciduous, it holds onto those copper leaves in the winter, giving cover but also a change with the season. It is a little more fussy about its position so if you have a wetter garden go for the Hornbeam instead. These espaliers have different sizes and dimensions so check the individual descriptions for sizes.


This large, deciduous tree’s autumn colour is second to none, ranging from fiery red, orange and yellow through to sumptuous purple. Inconspicuous male and female inflorescences are borne on the same tree in spring and are followed by globed fruits made up of many spiked seed capsules.


All the beauty of a Liquidambar in a compact size. It has a dense rounded head grafted onto a 2.2m tall standard stem. Its autumn colour is vibrant yellow-gold then turning brilliant shades of burgundy red. The head is at this stage 100cm in diameter but will get bigger growing to approximately 150-180cm, ball shaped.


Aoyagi means green coral and the green coral bark is considered to be the most outstanding feature of this tree.

The leaves in spring come out amazing chartreuse before turning more green in summer. Its autumn colour is fiery orange and yellow. This upright-growing tree is not fast growing but can reach 8m high, forming a rounded top. It looks spectacular when planted next to a contrasting ‘Sango Kaku’.

It prefers to be in dappled shade for best colours but will tolerate full sun.

Like all Maples Acer palmatum ‘Aoyagi’ doesn’t require any pruning routine. The best time to prune is the late autumn or winter when the plant is fully dormant.


This Japanese Maple is grown mainly for its spectacular autumn colour, perhaps the best of all the Maples. It has an open habit, and its large, seven-lobed, bright green leaves turn brilliant scarlet in autumn and last for several weeks before falling. It prefers a sheltered, shady spot. ‘Osakazuki’ looks dramatic silhouetted against a tall hedge or modern building.

Ideal for the smaller garden, yet still capable of creating autumn drama in a large garden, Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ is a small tree or large shrub with an attractive open habit. An expected maximum height of roughly 4 x 3 metres in 20 years. It prefers a slightly sheltered position avoiding full sun and windier spots. The colour on the image is the autumn colour


There are many types of ornamental Rowans, less common are the yellow berrying varieties of which Joseph Rock is the best. Upright at first and broadening with age this lovely garden tree provides the typical open nature of a rowan tree, casting light shade in the summer months.

The ultimate height is approximately 8m (25ft). The foliage turns a fiery orangey-red to dark purple in autumn producing a very colourful display. The berries remain on the tree after leaf fall as birds tend to prefer red and orange fruits.

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