For many the beginning of September marks the arrival of autumn, and for the Plant Centre team that means a few extra layers to fend off the increasingly chilly weather. It seems the plants might have noticed the changing of the seasons too, with beautiful autumn colour beginning to develop on many of our shrubs.
Perhaps the most iconic of these are Japanese maples which showcase vivid flushes of reds, oranges and yellows at this time of year. My particular favourites include Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ with purple-red autumn hints, Acer palmatum ‘Shaina’, whose new foliage turns vibrant red, and Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ which becomes a gorgeous golden colour.
The slow growing nature of acers makes them an investment piece for customers, so it’s really important that we maintain them regularly to keep them looking their best.
Last week I spent a day doing just that; beginning by pruning out any dead or diseased wood and removing scorched leaves. Top-dressing the pots makes a huge difference and this involves removing any weeds, moss or liverwort from the surface of the soil and replacing with fresh compost.
However, whilst acers and other plants like sedum, miscanthus, berberis and callicarpa come into their own during the autumn, the colder weather and changing day length causes many deciduous shrubs and trees to begin dropping their leaves in earnest, through a process known as abscission. Whilst this means plenty of sweeping and tidying for us, we’re in no rush to remove leaves prematurely, just to let nature take its course.
Look to the future
But autumn is not just a season for garden maintenance, it’s also the perfect time to get your planning head on and look towards planting for next year’s garden. The soil is both moist and warm and the choice of stock in the Plant Centre is perhaps at its largest, with our usual A-Z selection supplemented by seasonal favourites, new fruit trees and spring flowering bulbs.
To celebrate this, Harlow Carr has launched a range of autumn planting cards to help customers create year-round colour and Marie has been busy creating displays to showcase this wide variety of plants.
The cards cover a range of garden themes from a fruit tree garden to contemporary border and provide customers with a planting list, planting instructions and planting plan. Of course they are always welcome to ask us for some additional inspiration!