Just when you had had it with green, autumn brings on the other colours. Senescence or the ageing process in a plant exposes the pigments that cohabit with the dominant green chlorophyll. The big leaves of the ornamental vine Vitis cognetia
e show it clearly, shattering into yellowred mosaic.
The other candidates for dramatic change are the robinias turning butter yellow and the smoke bushes with maroon leaves bringing on marbled effects.
But the plant that I would choose as autumnal ambassador is Ceratostigma plumbaginioides
. It spends the rest of the year lurking in a totally discrete and overlook-me way. Right now it has bust out to join the
blue brigade. The flowers are a clear blue and give a perfect complementary match off the colour wheel to the fierce red tinge on the leaves. This is not a flash plant but it makes a tidy mound shape and its suckering habit means that it will thrive on a bank.
I am wandering through a municipal strip of planting round a carpark. Not just any carpark, you understand, but the one outside Nottcuts Head office and retail outlet. It has to be perfect and it is very good indeed. The autumn colour effect is impressive and I make myself a note to look hard in this direction in spring next year.
The dramatic shift in the day length has also brought the miscanthus grasses into flower. The shiny tassles look fantastic and take over from the the tired and whisked straw appearance of the stipas. The calamagrostis stand in spear clumps with the giraffe plant, Verbena bonariensi
s dotted through them. I wonder whether the clumps versus the very free seeding verbena will fight in future years. Make note to self to return. Often.