Autumn colour

Autumn colour at Aberglasney is about so much more than the vast number of trees in the Gardens and although it is a time when we start putting the greater part of the garden to bed it is also a time when some good plants come into flower. Putting the tender Dahlia and Salvia to one side there are some good hardy plants that are at their best in the autumn.

One of the stars is Clerodendrum bungei which despite its name is a great plant. It is a suckering shrub unlike almost anything else with dark green leaves and heads of pink and darker pink flowers from September through to the first frosts. Growing to about two meters in height and being bolt upright makes it really useful for the back of the border. We grow a large stand of it on a south facing slope and it does absolutely fine even coming through hard winters unscathed.

There are also a great number of late flowering bulbs that really brighten up the autumn. Nerine make excellent late summer interest. They look like bright pink Agapanthus and are a real show stopper. There are plenty to choose from and in our view they are the most spectacular autumn flowering bulbs.

The trick to growing them is to plant them in as sunny a spot as possible in rich soil without too much competition around them. Getting them into flower can be a problem but a good watering in midsummer seems to help them. When planting them keep the neck of the bulb above ground, if it’s too low they won’t flower.

Another spectacular bulb for the autumn is Colchicum which also needs a sunny spot. They will flower without leaves and do this because they produce the leaves in the spring they are then dormant until flowering in the autumn. Planted in big clumps they put on a striking show and there are plenty of different types to choose from.

In the parterre area we have a huge Parthenocissus or Boston Ivy which is a vivid purple, red colour in Autumn. It combines well with the purple and orange Dahlia in the bedding border. What is particularly good about this combination is that it lasts right up until either the leaves drop on the Parthenocissus or the Dahlia is cut back by frost.

Many of the late flowering perennials such as Aster, Rudbeckia and Helenium flower well into November. This allows you to combine them with climbers or shrubs that have good autumn colour. We have one area where a combination of Pyracantha with orange berries mixes with Aster and Rudbeckia.

Elsewhere in the garden we find combinations of shrubs can create good long seasons of interest. We have a Koelreuteria ‘Coral Sun’, a golden leaved Judas Tree and a Purple Acer which are all at their best during the autumn but they also add colour through foliage from the summer to late winter.

At the top of Bishop Rudd’s Walk we have a large stand of different exotic shrubs that make a great mid and late season display. Here the purple flowers of Clerodendrum bungei and the golden leaved Catalpa are very impressive. This area also contains the purple leaved Catalpa and rare Hydrangea relative Kirengeshoma all of which combine to great effect.