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Planning for the Autumn

By Lorraine Spooner

With the new planting season almost upon us, now is the time to start making preparations in readiness for autumn, so that no time is wasted in introducing your choice of new plants to the correct growing conditions for optimum root development.  With a strong root system, newly planted trees and shrubs will be able to counter the vagaries of the British weather.

But the first consideration must be THE RIGHT PLANT IN THE RIGHT PLACE

Planning for the Autumn

Understanding the unique conditions of your site will enable you to make informed decisions, rather than buying on impulse.  Factors which will affect growing conditions:

  • Water
  • Soil (type, structure and pH levels)
  • Wind
  • Sun
  • Light
  • Microclimates
  • Topography

With summer temperatures increasing at an alarming rate, creating areas of shade with drought tolerant plants will become of paramount importance.  You may now consider that lovely patio is no longer a place of relaxation but has become a furnace in high summer.  Some well positioned trees, providing dappled shade, will be a welcome relief.

A plant naturally suited to its site will be happy and healthy and, as a result, will be less labour intensive.  A plant struggling for survival will require more maintenance and will attract pest and disease problems, with consequent pest management cost.

But perhaps most importantly, precious resources can be conserved for other more demanding areas of the garden increasing the sustainability of your plot.

Also consider what is the intended purpose of this particular area of the garden?

  • To provide shade
  • To provide privacy
  • Be low maintenance
  • Be child/animal friendly
  • Be a place for quiet contemplation
Planning for the Autumn

The choice of plants may be dependent on the above factors, but mistakes are frequently made when a plant’s characteristics have not been taken into consideration, such as height, width, spacing, speed of growth, water requirements or growing tolerances.   A plant growing in the wrong place can be moved, but this creates extra work and waste when the plant does not survive and has to be replaced.

Below I have provided some recommendations for different sites to ensure your choice of plant is in…

The Right Plant in the Right Place

Dry sites in partial shade

A difficult site often occurring at the base of a fence or wall that faces away from the direction of the prevailing wind and is therefore sheltered from rain.  Also occurring beneath large, shallow rooted trees which create a rain shadow beneath their leaf canopies.  Incorporate plenty of organic matter such as compost, manure or leaf mould to aid moisture retention.  An irrigation system is recommended for this type of site.

Planning for the Autumn

Cotoneaster frigidus ‘Cornubia’

Planning for the Autumn

Garrya elliptica

Planning for the Autumn

Osmanthus delavayi

Other plants to consider for this type of site:

Sarcococca confusa, Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart’s-tongue fern), Geranium phaeum and Bergenias.

Damp sites in partial shade

Replicating the cool, humid environment that characterises a woodland, the following plants would be suitable and could be underplanted with a tapestry of greens from a wide variety of ferns, which relish such conditions.

Planning for the Autumn

Alnus glutinosa

Planning for the Autumn

Taxodium distichum

Planning for the Autumn

Hydrangea quercifolia

Other plants to consider for this type of site:

Betula nigra, Salix alba ‘Tristis’, Amelanchier lamarckii, Hostas and Ferns.

Hot & dry sites

These sites present a challenge for a plant’s survival not only due to a lack of moisture, but because the foliage of many plants can be scorched by very hot sun.  Sloping sites where drainage is rapid, the base of walls in a rain shadow and areas in full sun for most of the day are features of this category.  Plants of Mediterranean origin will cope with such conditions, however an irrigation system is still recommended for trees planted on this type of site.

Planning for the Autumn

Betula pendula

Planning for the Autumn

Catalpa bignonioides

Planning for the Autumn

Ficus carica

Other plants to consider for this type of site:

Cercis siliquastrum, Ginkgo biloba, Gleditsia triacanthos, Koelreuteria paniculata, Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’, Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilver’, Lavandula, Verbena bonariensis and Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’.

Exposed sites

High winds loosen plant roots, break fragile stems and scorch foliage through excessive transpiration.  Creating shelter belts or wind filtering hedges can alleviate these conditions, but it is important to ensure that plants utilised are tough enough to withstand the full force of the wind.

Planning for the Autumn

Acer platinoides ‘Crimson King’

Planning for the Autumn

Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’

Planning for the Autumn

Tilia cordata

Other plants to consider for this type of site:

Alnus glutinosa ‘Imperialis’, Betula utilis var. ‘Jacquemontii’, Cryptomeria japonica ‘Cristata’, Sorbus aucuparia, Cornus alba ‘Kesselringii’, Rosa pimpinellifolia ‘Plena’, Sambucus nigra ‘Guincho Purple’.

Planning for the Autumn

2019-08-14T08:15:34+00:00
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