Which trees and hedging are best for Autumn inspiration?

Autumn.  It’s awesome, isn’t it?  Cool and damp – perfect conditions for root growth and the best way to herald in the bare root planting season.  With your Autumn planting boots on and a fresh vigour for planting, make way for some perfect picks for your Trees and Hedging shopping barrow this month.

Choosing for colour

If you are choosing a tree, hedge or shrub for its autumn colour, it will hold onto its leaves for as long as possible if planted in a sheltered place. The colour and intensity of autumn foliage depends on the soil into which it is planted and how much rain we have had over the season, so this varies from year to year.

Top 10 Trees, Hedges & Shrubs for Autumn Colour

  1. Red Oak (Quercus rubra)

Fast growing, with deeply cut pointed leaves which turn glorious red before they drop.  Likes a lime-free soil to boost its’ Autumn colour and can have grown to 10 metres after 10 years.

  1. Bird Cherry (Prunus padus)

A classic British native tree, the bird cherry has something beautiful to offer in every season.  Fruits in the summer, foliage colour in the autumn and white blossom in the spring.  A firm favourite for wildlife too, as well as its ornamental value – an ever-present park, roadside and woodland tree.  Suits acid soil and can be up to 5 metres tall after 10 years.

  1. Field Maple (Acer campestre)

What we’d call a pretty, medium-sized native tree, with a five-lobed palmate leaf, transforming from pinkish-red in spring, through green to bright golden-yellow in the autumn.  Best in a chalky soil, you’d expect an 8 metre tree after 10 years.

  1. Rowan or Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia)

A beauty among our native trees.  Delicate leaves, a light canopy and seasonal interest all year round, the Rowan takes you from creamy flower clusters through scarlet-orange berries to cracking autumn leaf colour too.  It’s a tough cookie, too (spot some in the northernmost parts of Scotland), it works well as a garden tree and a woodland partner.  Most soils will suit – even the most acidic.  And 8 metres height in 10 years makes it a grand addition to your planting plans.

  1. Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)

You know the sloe, right? This is it!  Another important native deciduous shrub, it’s a regular in wild hedgerows and countryside across Britain. A densely spiny suckering shrub, it makes one of the best stock-proof hedges and forms an essential part of wildlife hedgerows. Its snowy white blossom appears in very early spring before the leaves and is followed in late autumn by the purplish-black fruits. It suits most soil types, even the wettest and you can expect a tree of 5 metres after 10 years.

  1. Aspen (Populus tremula)

If you’ve ever noticed a gentle rustling above you on a breezy day, the chances are you’ll be beneath the trembling shimmer of leaves from an Aspen.  Very distinctive in its shape and form, the leaves turn a rich golden yellow in autumn after their young bronze leaves in the spring. Avoid a chalky soil, else it thrives well even on exposed hillsides and can grow to 8 metres in a decade.

  1. Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea)

Vivid stem colour? Dogwood has it covered.  A British native, very upright suckering shrub, with good autumn colour and reddish stems in winter, it’s a good host for wildlife and perfect for creating a natural wildlife corridor and mixed hedge.  Soil-wise, it’s pretty easy, even in damp sites and you’ll have a 3 metre shrubbery after 10 years.

  1. Spindleberry (Euonymous europaeus)

This one is FAST.  A British native, often seen in hedgerows on chalky soil in the south of England, its leaves turn bright red in the autumn, a stunning contrast with their uniquely-strange pink 4-lobed fruits, which split partially open the reveal bright orange seeds. It is best grown in mixed wildlife hedges and on woodland margins, but is also a good garden shrub, suited to well drained and chalky soil and growing to 6 metres after 10 years.

  1. Purple Berberis (Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea)

We’ve done red, we’ve done orange – now for some purple! A dense, deciduous very spiny shrub, the berberis’ dark reddish purple leaves turn a rich red in autumn. The pale yellow and red-tinged flowers pave the way for red autumn berries in autumn.  It’s a real pleasure for a garden corner and will grow into a dense cluster of nearly 2 metres over 10 years.

  1. Guelder Rose (Viburnum Opulus)

This is one attractive shrub must-have.  Great for the garden, wildlife will love it and you get showy leaves, well into autumn, large heads of white flowers and huge bunches of glistening red berries.  Win, win, WIN! Loves most soils and will bush up to 5 metres in 10 years.

A Top Ten to start you off.  Want to choose by colour? We’ve an autumn blog for that too! Head over to our Autumn Tree Colour Chart for leaf, bark and berry choice.

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