Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Colour coded

Last month, I visited a garden in Essex to cover for a feature. Spread over several acres, what impressed me amongst other things was the choice of planting for interest all year round from trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs. At this time of the year, the garden explodes into a firework of colours from the changing leaves, all hot reds and oranges. Some favourite plants of the owner include: Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy', Cornus obovatus and Pittosporum 'Tom Thumb' - all great foliage plants looking particularly stunning now. Green Island Garden near Ardleigh, Essex is open at various times this month and in November. Read the article in November's edition of Essex Life.

Using plants for colour and interest all year round is something I like to incorporate into gardens. It's fantastic driving around now seeing trees changing colour but even nicer having a display in your own garden. Many trees and shrubs suitable for smaller gardens have beautiful bark, leaf shape and colour and even flowers for a succession of 'wow' factor over the seasons. The Cornus or Dogwood family are a must with pretty leaves, often variegated, flowers in summer, gorgeous autumn leaf colour and then brightly coloured red, orange, green or inky black stems throughout the winter; Fothergilla major is a nicely shaped shrub with excellent autumn colour; Betula utlis var. jacquemontii, the Himalayan Birch, has glowing white bark and makes a real focal point in the garden (keep the bark looking bright by washing in spring with a soft sponge and water); Nyssa sinensis has long narrow leaves which are purple-tinged when young, green when mature and turn a brilliant scarlet red in autumn.