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The Best Autumn Trees With Beautiful Colours [12 trees we recommend]

The Best Autumn Trees With Beautiful Colours

The Best Autumn Trees are great for gardens, creating structure and seasonal interest, with the following trees offering beautiful autumnal colour.  Position such trees well and they will make an ideal focal point, that they can be enjoyed now and for future generations.

We have a range of quality trees for suitable as specimens, screening or for small gardens; just ask our horticultural experts.

Here is a selection of our top trees for colourful displays in your autumn garden. When choosing a tree, consider the space you have available, planting a selection of trees, if space allows, can provide rich contrast and seasonal interest.

Trees offering great autumn colours

  1. Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)Best Autumn Trees
  2. Acer rubrum (Red Maple)
  3. Amelanchier Ballerina (Serviceberry Ballerina)
  4. Betula utilis jacquemontii (West Himalayan Birch)
  5. Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura Tree)
  6. Euonymus europaeus (Spindle)
  7. Fagus sylvatica (Common beech)
  8. Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree)
  9. Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweet Gum)
  10. Malus tschonoskii (Chonosuki crab)
  11. Nyssa sylvatica (Tupelo/Black Gum)
  12. Sorbus aucuparia Joseph Rock (Rowan Joseph Rock)

 

Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)

Japanese Maples are prized for their gorgeous foliage, deeply lobed leaves, which emerge a vivid green and turn to shades of red, orange and yellow in autumn. Acer palmatum is an excellent choice for smaller gardens, as it grows to around 5m.

 

Acer rubrum (Red Maple)

These Red Maple trees are renowned for their spectacular scarlet autumn hues which emerge a pale yellow in spring gradually darkening to dark green in summer, turning bright red in autumn. The winter twigs have a red hue, as do its tiny spring flowers, providing additional interest.

 

Amelanchier Ballerina (Serviceberry Ballerina)

This tough, hardy small tree has masses of spring flowers. The bright green leaves turn brilliant red in the autumn, emerging in conjunction with rounded fruits which are initially red in summer before turning black in the autumn. Also known as June Berry or Serviceberry Ballerina

 

Betula utilis jacquemontii (West Himalayan Birch)

The bright white bark of this elegant himalayan birch tree peels each year, revealing the next layer of perfectly accentuated by lenticels lines. Its delicate, dark green foliage turn golden yellow in autumn.

 

Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura Tree)

This tree has pretty foliage that emerges bronze in spring before turning light green in the Summer. Autumn brings brilliant displays of orange yellow and red, accompanied by the smell of burnt sugar and candy floss which drifts gently in the breeze.

 

Euonymus europaeus (Spindle)

A small spreading tree, the Spindle has small yellow flowers, followed in autumn by 4-lobed red fruits which split to reveal orange seeds. The narrow leaves are dark green in summer turning yellow-green to reddish-purple in autumn.

 

Fagus sylvatica (Beech)

Beech tree’s small leaves are a fresh green when they emerge and become a stunning orange-copper and gold in autumn, which often hang on the tree throughout winter.

 

Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree ‘Autumn Gold’)

The Maidenhair Tree has bright green fan-shaped leaves. In autumn time, these wonderfully shaped leaves turn a clear and bright yellow and work well planted in contrast with other species that will give red autumn colour.

 

Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweet Gum)

Liquidambar produces large, 5-7 lobed, star-shaped leaves which emerge bright green in the spring then changing to fabulous red, purple and gold colours throughout the autumn; Liquidambar is one of the very best trees for autumn colour and one of the last deciduous trees to drop its leaves.

 

Malus tschonoskii (Chonosuki crab)

In the spring the young leaves of this tree emerge almost white. They have many spectacular shades in Autumn, from purple and copper through orange to yellow. The winter buds are a remarkable brownish-red colour and glossy.

 

Nyssa sylvatica (Tupelo)

The Tupelo or black gum is a wonderful tree for autumn foliage with its green summer leaves turning fiery red/ and orange in autumn.

 

Sorbus aucuparia Joseph Rock (Rowan Joseph Rock)

This Mountain Ash has small, narrow dark green leaves that turn a flame red in the autumn time.  The creamy white flowers hang in clusters, appearing around May-June.  These are followed by interestingly creamy yellow berries, whose colour contrasts fantastically with the bright red autumn colour.

 

Foxglove tree heat tolerant
Top 10 Trees for hot dry summers

Drought Tolerant Trees

Trees are a great addition to almost any garden, creating structure and seasonal interest.  Gardens provide a sanctuary and respite from the busy world and planting trees are adapted to hotter, drier climates could be useful to these changing climatic conditions.

Here we list our top 10 trees that are suitable for hot dry or heat wave summers.

We have a range of quality trees for suitable as specimens, screening or for small gardens; just ask our horticultural experts.

Top 10 Trees for hot dry summers

  1. Betula pendula (Silver Birch)
  2. Catalpa bignonioides (Indian Bean Tree)
  3. Cercis siliquastrum (Judas tree)
  4. Corylus colurna (Turkish Hazel)
  5. Crataegus crusgalli (Cockspur thorn)
  6. Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair Tree)
  7. Gleditsia triacanthos (Honey Locust Sunburst)
  8. Koelreuteria paniculata (Golden Rain Tree)
  9. Paulownia tomentosa (Foxglove Tree)
  10. Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer (Callery Pear)

 

  1. Betula pendula

This tree, more commonly known as a Silver Birch, has an elegant appearance. As a young tree it has a distinctive white bark with darker lines and shapes decorating the trunk. Its main branches are long and often grow horizontally, creating a semi weeping habit.  The Pendula produces yellow catkins in the spring and light green foliage that shoots early and becomes orange-yellow in the autumn. This is a hardy tree which is frost resistant and regularly the first to grow back on bare or damaged land.

  1. Catalpa bignonioides

The Indian Bean tree originates from America. It is a magnificent medium to large tree which comes into leaf late and produces exotic orchid-like flowers in mid-summer followed by beans in the autumn. The leaves turn a pale yellow in the autumn. A good specimen tree.

  1. Cercis siliquastrum

Cercis siliquastrum is a bushy, deciduous small tree which produces its bloom straight from the trunk and stems. The rosy-lilac, pea-like flowers cover the wood in May, producing a stunning floral display that is quite uncharacteristic of a tree. Following the flowers, the bright green, almost heart shaped leaves are developed on the Judas tree, later accompanied by dark purple tinted seed pods in July.

  1. Corylus colurna

Also known as the Turkish Hazel, Corylus colurna is a stately and imposing tree at maturity. Its leaves are bright green and are broadly heart shaped. During the early spring long, yellow catkins are produced, followed by clusters of nuts that are contained in frilly looking husks in autumn.  It has a rough, corky bark that becomes more distinguished as it matures.

  1. Crataegus crusgalli

Crataegus crusgalli (or Cockspur thorn) is a small tree with horizontal, spreading branches and a flat-topped shape at maturity. It has showy white flowers, brick-red fruits, glossy summer and vibrant, multi-coloured autumn foliage, and bold winter texture.

  1. Ginkgo biloba

The Ginkgo biloba or Maidenhair Tree has bright green fan-shaped leaves, with two leaf blades. In autumn time, these wonderfully shaped leaves turn a clear and bright yellow. Ginkgo biloba forms a large specimen with a conical shape at maturity. It is extremely hardy and is a great choice for parks and avenues. Mature female plants produce fruits which bear a distinctive smell.

  1. Gleditsia triacanthos Sunburst

The Gleditsia triacanthos or Honey Locust Sunburst is a pretty and delicate looking tree which has a rounded and spreading form. The frond-like foliage is often late to appear, emerging a brilliant lime yellow colour and ageing to light green as the summer progresses. Unlike its parent, this cultivar is thornless.

  1. Koelreuteria paniculata

Koelreuteria paniculata is known as Pride of India, or the Golden Rain Tree. Its profuse small yellow flowers develop in late spring and these form lantern-shaped fruits that turn red in the autumn when its green leaves turn a rich yellow. Grow as a specimen tree in well-drained or moist but well-drained soil in full sun Golden Rain Tree thrives best on free draining soils with a sunny aspect.

  1. Paulownia tomentosa

The Paulownia tomentosa  or Foxglove tree, is a pretty and an unusual tree; it has extremely large, bright green, hairy leaves which can reach up to 30cm across and appear to come directly from the bare wood of the tree. In May this tree will produce large spikes of rich purple flowers, very similar to the foxglove. It is fast growing and sprawling, the wood is very light making it easy to prune. Paulownia tomentosa does best in sunny, reasonably sheltered sites.

  1. Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer

The Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer or Callery Pear is a medium tree, with side branches stretching upwards creating a narrow, conical shape. It has ovoid leaves, which emerge as early as March and are a glossy, lush green which last through to November, when they change to a reddish-purple before falling. It produces a small, pear-shaped fruit around 1 cm thick.
Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer is a very hardy tree and is resistant to frost, heat, wind and pollution.

Platanus Acerifolia
Top 10 Street Trees

Trees for Urban Areas

Trees can enhance all environments, even urban ones with a wide range of environmental, social and economic benefits; street trees in urban parks have been found to improve physical and mental health, improve aesthetics and environmental quality, which can lead to increased investment and the local economy.

We have prepared a list the top 10 trees that are suitable for urban planting, originally featured in magazine FutureArch:

  1. Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven)
  2. Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair Tree)
  3. Koelreuteria paniculata (Golden Rain Trees)
  4. Liquidambar styraciflua (American Sweet Gum)
  5. Nyssa sylvatica (Sour Gum)
  6. Platanus× acerifolia  (Plane Trees)
  7. Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer (Callery Pear)
  8. Sorbus torminalis (Wild Service Trees)
  9. Tilia cordata (Small-leaved Lime)
  10. Ulmus hollandica Lobel (Lobel Elm)

See Forestry Commission article for more details on street tree planting programmes.

Top 10 Street Trees

 

Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven)

Distinctive features: This is a tall, tough tree that is able to withstand inhospitable urban environments, making it a possible contender for a street tree, where space allows. It has pale grey bark, light brown twigs and large pinnately compound leaves.

Average height/ crown size: 20m+ very large, broadly columnar tree

Maintenance/Planting tips: 20-50years to maturity; thrives in all soils

Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair Tree)

Distinctive features: The leaves are fan shaped, appearing bright green in spring and then bright yellow in the autumn. Tough enough to cope with air pollution, reflected heat and light, Ginkgo biloba is a great contender as a street tree.

Average height/ crown size: 20m+ forms a large specimen with a conical shape at maturity

Maintenance/Planting tips: 20-50years to maturity; will tolerate most soil types

Koelreuteria paniculata (Golden Rain Trees) 

Distinctive features: Koelreuteria paniculata’s profuse small yellow flowers develop in late spring and these form lantern-shaped fruits that turn red in the autumn when its green leaves turn a rich yellow.

Average height/ crown size: 7-12m forms a rounded crown

Maintenance/Planting tips: 20-50 years to maturity; thrives best on free draining soils with a sunny aspect.

Liquidambar styraciflua (American Sweet Gum)

Distinctive features: Liquidambar styraciflua or American Sweet Gum is a large, undemanding tree, which is pollution resistant. It’s large star-shaped leaves emerge bright green in the spring then changing to fabulous red, purple and gold colours throughout the autumn; Liquidambar is one of the very best trees for autumn colour and one of the last deciduous trees to drop its leaves.

Average height/ crown size: 20m+ matures to a rounded crown

Maintenance/Planting tips: more than 50 years to maturity; Best in fertile, well-drained soil, not suitable for lime or chalky soils

Nyssa sylvatica (Sour Gum)

Distinctive features: The Tupelo or sour gum is a wonderful tree for autumn foliage with its green summer leaves turning yellow, orange and even red into late autumn

Average height/ crown size: 12-17m Pyramidal in habit when young, it can develop into a large broad tree at maturity

Maintenance/Planting tips: 20-50 years to maturity; requires free draining acid soil

Platanus × acerifolia  (Plane Trees)

Distinctive features: The London Plane is the classic street tree, due to its high tolerance of pollution; It is also known as Platanus × hispanica. This large tree features multi-coloured, flaking bark, which includes patches of white, green, grey and brown. It’s large shiny, dark green leaves, transform into a copper colour in autumn before falling

Average height/ crown size: 20-30m forms a broadly pyramidal shaped crown at maturity

Maintenance/Planting tips: 20-50 years to maturity; tolerant to all soils but thrives

Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer (Callery Pear) 

Distinctive features: A medium height tree, the glossy lush green leaves emerge in March and last through to November, when they change to a reddish-purple before falling. It’s a very hardy tree, resistant to frost, heat, wind and pollution

Average height/ crown size: 15m side branches stretching upwards creating a narrow, conical shape

Maintenance/Planting tips: 20-50 years to maturity; Prefers to be in full sun, adapts well to most soils

Sorbus torminalis (Wild Service Trees)

Distinctive features: This has white flowers in spring give way to sharp tasting fruits in the autumn whilst its bark resembles a chequer pattern as it matures. Its green summer leaves turn orange and yellow in the autumn

Average height/ crown size: 10-15m a columnar habit when young and graduates to a broad oval when mature.

Maintenance/Planting tips: 20-50 years to maturity; thrives in most free draining soils, not in full sun, it is tolerant of atmospheric pollution and dry conditions.

Tilia cordata (Small-leaved Lime)

Distinctive features: This native tree produces fragrant white flowers in mid-summer and is a good tree for attracting bees and the yellow leaf colour in autumn is attractive. An excellent choice for avenues and parks.

Average height/ crown size: 20–30m a broad oval crown

Maintenance/Planting tips: 20-50 years to maturity; It tolerates heat, is frost hardy and wind resistant, but is sensitive to salt. This tree is happy on most soils

Ulmus hollandica Lobel (Lobel Elm)

Distinctive features: The fairly small rough leaves are dull dark green with dense veins and a double-serrated edge. They are bronze coloured when they emerge, remaining on the tree for a long time, often until late November. It is very resistant to sea wind, making it suitable for use in coastal areas.

Average height/ crown size: 20-30m  pyramidal tree with a dense crown

Maintenance/Planting tips: 20-50 years to maturity; It favours moist and light soils.