Top 10 plants for Kentish autumn colour

PUBLISHED: 13:46 18 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:58 20 February 2013

Top 10 plants for Kentish autumn colour

Top 10 plants for Kentish autumn colour

There is still plenty of seasonal colour to enjoy in our gardens and woodlands through November. Here are 10 of the best plants for a final crescendo before the growing season comes to an end

Top 10 plants for Kentish autumn colour

There is still plenty of seasonal colour to enjoy in our gardens and woodlands through November. Here are 10 of the best plants for a final crescendo before the growing season comes to an end

Cold, clear nights brightening into sunny days, the shafts of slanting light intensifying the rich hues of russets, crimsons and golds; these are the days of November that we all anticipate.

There is the first dusting of frost icing the leaves and sprinkles of glistening berries, along with the added sounds of leaves crunching underfoot to intensify the experience of late autumn.

Deciduous trees and shrubs don their cloaks of many colours before disrobing into the bare beauty of skeletal forms. This is one of natures most stunning evolutionary tricks, a beautiful phenomenon caused by deciduous plants slowing their metabolism. The chlorophyll content of leaves aids photosynthesis and keeps them green through spring and summer, before the shorter days and cooler temperatures trigger a gradual reduction in chlorophyll production within the leaves, ceasing to mask the other colour pigments present in the foliage. The plants prepare for winter when they will rest and live off the food they stored during summer. Plants use this time to recycle nutrients from the foliage and deposit hard-to-eliminate waste products inside the leaves before they are finally shed. We can just admire the beauty while the science takes care of itself.

Top 10 autumn trees and shrubs

  • Acer flaming golds and reds

  • Callicarpa intensely purple berries

  • Cornus autumn colour, winter stems

  • Cotinus purple to red foliage

  • Crataegus coloured foliage and red berries

  • Euonymus hanging lobed fruits

  • Hydrangea colouring leaves, papery, delicate seedheads

  • Liquidambar maple-like leaves of golds, purples and crimson

  • Sorbus pendulous clusters of berries

  • Viburnum glossy berries

Planting tips

  • Best time to plant trees, shrubs and bare-rooted herbaceous plants is between November and March. Planting before Christmas allows better establishment as soil is warmer

  • Check mature size is suitable for your space

  • Consider mature shape some are broad, some narrow

  • Colour co-ordinate against your evergreens

  • Check aspect and soil needs

  • Many offer foliage, flowers, fruit and bark for year round interest

For inspiration

Kents High Weald offers vistas of woodland on hillsides and in valleys. Many gardens have now closed their gates, but you can still enjoy some, including Bedgebury Pinetum near Goudhurst (TN17 2SL), Hever Castle (TN8 7NG), The Secret Gardens of Sandwich (CT13 9EW) and Scotney Castle (TN3 8JN).

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