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Branching Out

by CountryLife Gardening | Oct 01, 2015
there is no better sign of autumn than when the leaves begin to turn blazing shades of red, yellow and orange

The first signs of autumn are well and truly visible now as you walk around the garden or the countryside. From summer flowering herbaceous borders that are beginning to fade away and shorter days there is a distinct autumnal feel in the air.

For me there is no better sign of autumn than when the leaves begin to turn blazing shades of red, yellow and orange. During the summer many trees simply fade into the background and can be overlooked in favour of bright showy flowers. In autumn however trees put on a theatrical display of colour that screams for attention as everything else in the garden becomes more subdued.

Over the past couple of days as I walked around the CountryLife garden centre I have been reminded of a few of my favourite trees for autumnal colour. One of the best and one that is synonymous with autumn colour is Liquid Amber. As the name suggests in autumn the leaves of this tree turn a rich amber colour as the temperatures begin to drop. The liquid amber or sweet gum as it is sometimes called comes from the eastern United States and grows well in mild areas on fairly dry soil. It has leaves shaped like those of maple and it is often easily mistaken for a maple.

Mountain Ash has been another firm favourite with Irish gardeners for many years now. The most common Mountain Ash or rowan has rich dark red berries that are very similar to that of holly. However you can also get yellow, pink and white fruiting varieties that may be more attractive to some gardeners. Rowan is an attractive garden tree that likes well-drained sites but will thrive in most soils. Due to it's compact nature it makes a great tree for gardeners who have limited space available for trees in their garden.

Two particularly great varieties for autumnal interest are Malus Gorgeous and Malus Golden Hornet. Gorgeous produces fantastic ruby red fruit in autumn that many gardeners will use to produce crab apple jelly with.Crab apple trees are not only great trees for autumn interest they also provide fantastic spring and early summer interest thanks to their abundance of pink or white flowers. Two particularly great varieties for autumnal interest are Malus Gorgeous and Malus Golden Hornet. Gorgeous produces fantastic ruby red fruit in autumn that many gardeners will use to produce crab apple jelly with. Golden Hornet on the other hand produces golden yellow fruit that can look rather striking in the garden. Both varieties produce fruit in abundance and as they are part of the malus family can be pruned back to help maintain their shape that can make them suitable for smaller gardens. It is important to remember however if you do prune your crab apple trees you may limit the amount of flowers and fruit you have the following year.

Acers are another of the iconic autumn trees. The leaves of these trees are well known for turning the landscape into a tapestry of reds, yellows and oranges. One of my favourites is acer cappadocicum aureum. Aureum is a broad medium sized tree that really goes through a cycle in terms of leaf colour. The very young leaves are a pale greenish yellow colour which as they mature turn to a deep green. Then in autumn they turn back to a bright yellow shade.

When it comes to planting trees (either bare rooted or from a pot) I like to use the rule of digging my planting hole twice the size of the roots. It is a good idea to work in a good amount of well-rotted manure or compost into the hole to give the tree a good start. For the first year or until the tree is well established it is important to not let the tree dry out and to water it regularly. 

Written by Malachy

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at: hello@countrylife.ie

Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!

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