Best autumn tree for large gardens: Liquidambar styraciflua
The sweet gum, from the mountains of eastern North America, is guaranteed to perform in autumn, the lobed leaves turning a beautiful crimson. Several cultivars are available; the old favourite is still ‘Worplesdon’, whose leaves turn deep purple then orange-yellow in autumn. Height (H) 10m, spread (S) 5m after 25 years: its eventual height of 25m makes it unsuitable for small gardens.
Best for chalky soil: Acer campestre On chalky soil don’t forget our medium-sized native field maple, which we see lighting up hedgerows in October and November with its bright yellow shades. Also happy in heavy clay or acid soil. H 10m, S 7m. AGM.*
Best for late autumn fruits: Sorbus commixta The Japanese rowan is one of the last to hang on to its leaves and berries, almost into December. On a bright, sunny day the fiery orange autumn colours resemble a bonfire in the garden. H 10m, S 7m.
Best for autumn hedges: Carpinus betulus With its yellow autumnal tints, the hornbeam is a versatile tree that tolerates chalk and acid soils, heavy clay, and hard pruning – which makes it suitable for growing as a hedge. Grown as a specimen plant, its eventual height makes it unsuitable for small gardens. AGM. H 25m, S 25m.
Best for early autumn colour: Fraxinus americana ‘Autumn Purple’ This large white ash is one of the first to change colour, with reddish-purple leaf shades, usually around the end of September. H 18m, S 12m.
Best for late autumn colour: Ginkgo biloba Tolerant of most growing conditions, the maidenhair tree is often one of the last to lose its leaves, which turn yellow before they drop. H 10m, S 5m. AGM.
Best for a waterside location: Nyssa sylvatica
• You can find more information and a further listing of trees in the November issue of Gardens Illustrated.