Great to add plants to garden that give vibrant autumn colours

Aster alpinus ideal for the front of the border (S)
Aster alpinus ideal for the front of the border (S)

Already there are some lovely autumn colours developing in trees and shrubs at the moment. When it comes to autumn foliage, some years are better than others, but from what I’ve seen already, I suspect that this autumn we are in for a treat over the next few weeks.

Many deciduous trees and shrubs that we grow in our gardens develop good autumn colour and it’s always worth including a few plants in your garden for this very reason to make the autumn garden look as colourful as possible. Plants such as acer, hamamellis, cornus, euonymus, prunus, amalanchier and sorbus are all trees and shrubs suitable for the garden that produce a rich mixture of colours from yellow through to red.

If you’ve got room in your garden for a few more plants, it’s well worth making a note of any plants that look really good at this time of the year to add to your shopping list for the future.

Of course, a great way to see many of these lovely plants is to get out and have a walk around your local parks or a garden open to the public. In North Yorkshire we are spoilt for choice when it comes to seeing wonderful autumn colour with places such as Thorp Perrow near Bedale and Newby Hall near Ripon. This year Newby is remaining open at weekends through October and also for half-term week. In just a matter of weeks all the leaves will have fallen off for another year, so take advantage now and get out and admire this natural wonder. Who needs New England when we’ve got it all here in North Yorkshire!

Astonishing Asters!

Some of the most colour flowering perennials in the border at the moment are asters. To many people these are Michaelmas daisies, but they are also known as New England asters or New York asters, depending on the species being grown. They come in a wide range of colours and different sizes to suit all positions in the garden. These perennial asters are hardy and form a clump, which dies down in winter and regrows the following spring. Most asters will grow in a wide range of soils and are very easy to look after and once established in the garden will live for many years.

One very tough plant that is perfect for small areas or at the front of the border is Aster alpinus which grows to around 25cm tall. Several colours are available and in just a couple of years it makes a mound of colour. For something a little taller,

Aster amellus will grow to 60cm. Again there are several colour variations and this species is also good for alkaline soils.

Probably the most popular type is the traditional Michaelmas daisy – Aster novi-belgii - which comes in many sizes up to 1.2m tall.

This also has the largest range of colours with around 1,000 cultivars to choose from, although these are not all in cultivation. However, despite its attractive appearance and abundance of flowers it does have one fault which is powdery mildew.

All cultivars of this type are prone to the fungal disease that coats the foliage and stems in a white powdery substance. Don’t let this put you off growing it though.

The disease is always worse in dry summers (not a problem this year!) and when the plants are grown on very sandy soils and over-crowded. If grown in good soil and kept moist in dry weather the mildew is less of a problem. Spraying in early summer with a rose fungicide also helps to control the disease.

l If you have a gardening question for Martin Fish please email him at and we’ll print a selection of questions and answers for readers to share. Or, write to Ackrill Media Group, 1 Cardale Park, Harrogate and we’ll pass on your question