Garden News from our Head Gardener

Autumn Colour

Like any garden there are always certain plants and trees that stand out as being exceptional during autumn months, especially those that radiate golden colour tones that progress to deep warm reds.

As we have closed the castle gates for the season it’s a fitting end to write about some excellent trees, shrubs and climbers you can consider planting for your autumn colour next year.

Shrubs: Rhus typhina – known as stags horn has stunning autumn colour and one of my favorites is Euonymus – Alatusit that has cork like bark with superb reddish to purple autumn colour and likes chalk soils. Cercidiphyllum japonicum – has multicoloured autumn leaves with a toffee smell, Cotinus coggygria royal purple – known as the ‘smoke bush’

Climbers: Pathenocissus tricuspidata or Virginia creeper has maple like green leaves which turn to stunning rich tones of crimson and scarlet and grow rapidly to a height of 18 metres, excellent grown against most walls.  Vitis coignetiae an ornamental grape vine, which turns wonderful shades of yellow, reds and finally to purple.

Trees: for small gardens we suggest Prunus sargentil, Sorbus Joseph rock, or the unusual Arbutus unedo -‘strawberry tree’which in autumn has strawberry like fruit, with white bell like flowers, you can use the fruit for cake decoration. For larger gardens try Liquidamber styraciflia or parrotiaPersia, both give stunning autumn colour.

Herbaceous Plants: for late flowering try ‘Echinacea ‘Coneflower’, there are some stunning varieties such as ‘Twilight’ and ‘Sundown’.  If golden yellows or reds are not your colours you can add blue to your autumn look ‘Verbena bonariansis’ is a favourite because it looks good in most gardens and ‘Aster Monch’is great because it’s mildew resistant. This year our extensive and very brightly coloured Salvia collection has flowered all the way through to the closing of the castle gates.

Although we are closed to visitors the castle garden team continues to work through the autumn and winter months, in fact it is one of the very busiest times of the year for us all, not only are we collecting all the leaves so that they can be composted to make an excellent soil conditioner, but we are planting more than 80,000 spring bulbs. On our final day of opening we were very grateful to have additional help from Girlguiding Sussex West who came in to plant up some of our very large terracotta pots with tulips in The Collector Earl’s Garden, they all worked hard and we are looking forward to welcoming them back in spring when the tulips are in flower so they can see what they have created.

A few tips from the castle garden team:

Compost: the best way to do this is ensure the leaves are moist before putting them into a compost bin, add some grass clippings then turn the heap to help the rotting down process, usually from  8 to 15 months, this is sometime known as ‘black gold’ to gardeners.

  • Look out for hibernating creatures such as hedgehogs if lighting a bonfire
  • Fix grease bands to apple & pear trees.
  • Sow sweet peas under cover for next year
  • Lift and store your dahlias
  • Plant your tulip bulbs
  • Lift and divide your rhubarb crowns
  • Plant out your spring bedding
    • Happy Gardening!

      Martin Duncan

      Head Gardener

Cat in hat