Wednesday 24 January 2018

Step softly into autumn

Take a leaf out of Marie Staunton's book and get some cyclical colour

Marie Staunton

Here we are in November and the colours although subdued look picture perfect in the watery sunshine. The softness sets the tone and pace as the garden winds down for its winter sleep.

Keep in mind when you are clearing up those leaves that they are a valuable asset and should be loosely stored in a makeshift pen where the worms will break them down.

Sometimes being too tidy negates the good and deprives your beds and borders of much-valued nutrients and aeration.

So just allow the fallen leaves to be swept into the back of the borders where they can be allowed to break down in peace. It is true they should be taken off the grass and paths as this adds to the moss problem but don't be overly fussy about the borders.

The Botanic Gardens in Dublin provides so much inspiration when it comes to choosing trees for autumn/winter interest.

Thankfully, they are all labelled which makes it a lot easier when you are trying to source them at a later date.

Sometimes we look at trees and assume they wouldn't be available to buy and don't bother to jot down the name but quite a number are available in your local nurseries.

Acers of all shapes and sizes make such a big contribution in the colour stakes at this time of the year that you will find it hard to resist their charms.

Commonly known as Maple, the very beautiful Acer is at the height of its gorgeousness right now. These trees are an asset at any time but particularly now. Acer palmatum, like the one in the picture, won't get overly big and can easily be accommodated in a small garden.

There are so many varieties to choose from but from the point of view of autumn colour you can't go too far wrong with one Acer palmatum 'Orange Dream'.

I'm looking out of my own window at the moment at the beautiful red orange fruits on a Cornus capitata we have in the garden and even though I'm always giving out about this tree because of its habit of dropping leaves all summer, it is now redeeming itself beautifully.

You could never be bored in a garden, not alone is there always loads to do but it's a constantly changing scene.

It's not that we have a particularly massive garden but we have planted some really beautiful trees and one that will probably have to come out of its spot before too long is the Metasequoia glyptostroboides which is a sight to behold at this time of year.

It is a conifer that loses its leaves in late autumn but before this, it turns gorgeous shades of pink and amber and it's positioned in our garden to catch the last of the afternoon sunshine. So it is worth knowing a thing or two about the habits of the trees that you are going to spend your hard-earned money on because they could give you an awful lot of pleasure through the year, given the right position.

This is a fine tree for a big garden and is well worth every cent you will pay for it.

Last but not least in the colour stakes is the Euonymus alatus and right now it has its beautiful rosy-crimson autumn coat on.

A very easy plant to look after provided you give it full sun and a nice fertile soil, this is a low maintenance tree with plenty to offer in the looks department. It will grow to around 2m, so can easily be accommodated in a medium to small garden.

There is an unselfishness about planting trees and for future generations it is probably the best gift that you could ever give.

So if you are looking for an idea for a birthday, or dare I say Christmas present, look no further than a gift voucher from your local garden centre. If you aren't confident about picking them out a tree yourself then let them pick their own.

Irish Independent

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