A Splash of Autumn Colour
Following the falling temperatures, like Spring, Autumn is not short with its display of vibrant colours. The difference between Spring and Autumn colours is that, in Spring plants showed off their flowers and in Autumn, the spotlight is given on their leaves and berries, all for a good biological reason (see Fun Facts further on). Blasts of colour have many benefits on our wellbeing, and it is scientifically shown* that bright colours are able to create a sense of happiness and better mental health. In regard to this, a splash of colour in our gardens will surely enlightened the mood and create a beautiful ambience for the home. Colours in the garden can be created by combining the colours that come from many parts of the plants.
The combination of many warm colours, ranging from yellow to orange and red makes the deciduous tree an eye catcher in this season. Creepers provide a wide range of varieties of Acers, that will provide the colour of your choice, from the dark burgundy red of Acer palmatum Bloodgood, or Acer palmatum Garnet, to the golden hues of Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu’. Larger trees are available including Fagus sylvatica purpurea, Carpinus betulus and Parrotia persica, just to name a few. If the garden is limited in size these trees are also available in the form of pleached, box-head pleached, and hedges.
Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’
Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’
Crataegus lavallei ‘Carriere’
Even though berries come in many colours, most berries display red tones, and on evergreen plants the red and green from their leaves combination never fails to uplift the Christmas spirit. Pyracantha creates a stunning climber with their display of vibrant colours of red, orange and yellow berries.
The common Holly tree is evergreen and produces red berries, and the variegated leaves of Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea Marginata’ can add more colour variations. The berries of Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata) are inconspicuous compared to the common Holly, but they bring black colour into the garden.
Dogwood (Cornus spp.) display an array of colours in their changing leaf colour. They come as variegated leaves. They also have flowers and berries, then when the leaves fall, the stems show their bright colours. Cornus kousa are larger shrubs with white, cream, pink and green tinged flowers, red berries and green leaves that turned red, orange and yellow in Autumn.
The purpose of floral display, be it in the form of structure or colours, is to attract pollinators, and ultimately to ensure successful fruit productions. In Autumn, the display of attractive berries is to attract distributors to ensure the successful seed dispersal. After a long period of water deficiency, the organelle that is responsible for photosynthesis, known as the chloroplast, begins to degrade. The chloroplast contained many types of chlorophyll which not only play major roles in photosynthesis, but also determines the colour of leaves. The chlorophyll that gives the leaves its green colour is usually the first to degrade, hence leaving the other chlorophylls for red, orange, and yellow. Plants shed their leaves in order to conserve water that is usually loss through transpiration in their leaves.
*Science has shown that our wellbeing and emotions are affected by the colours we perceive. Warmer and brighter colours were able to reduce anxiety, tension and create excitement. It was shown that bright colours in schools were able to increase pupil’s attendance and now, it is suggested that offices should be given more colour to increase productivity. Adding colour to the garden would certainly improve not only the aesthetic value of the garden but could also improve the mental health of the owners.