I stepped out the door early on Sunday morning and for the first time this summer almost put a fleece on, a sure sign that these fantastic summer days we’re enjoying are numbered, but it’s not the only sign because one of my favourite tasks that I’ve recently completed is setting up a display of plants that show off autumn foliage and colourful berries.
One beautiful compact, upright tree that I’ve selected is Sorbus hybrida ‘Gibbsii’ and right now it’s dripping with clusters of juicy bright red berries. Being a small tree makes it suitable for any garden and its green leaves with their grey woolly underside are shaped quite differently from most other sorbus. I’m sure all the black birds in the garden centre have it in their sights waiting for them to ripen.
There’s a beautiful crab apple tree called ‘Butterball’, its cultivar name just tells you what the fruits are going to look like. A stunning small tree that bears masses of white, flushed pink apple blossom in spring followed by wonderful buttery coloured crab apples that it’s showing off now and with the added bonus of a little help in the kitchen should make a good crab apple jelly.
A shrub that is hardly noticeable most of the year will soon stand out in a crowd; it’s the Beauty Berry, also known as Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii ‘Profusion’. During October its stems will bear clusters of bright purple berries on the previous year’s wood. It likes most fertile well-drained soils in sun or dappled shade.
Of course no autumn display would be complete without pyracanthas, cotoneasters and hollies, these are not only great for autumn colour, an excellent source of food for wildlife but are very versatile too. The pyracanthas and hollies can become excellent deterrents against intruders as well as colourful hedging. On one of my day trips earlier this year I saw some wonderful tall hedging that was grown using different hollies creating a beautiful colourful dense hedge.