Planting and Landscape Advice

5 Trees for Autumn Colour

5 Trees for Autumn Colour

When it comes to this time of the year Ireland is awash with many different colours around the country side. Our hedgerows and forestry’s are a blaze of different colours ranging from bright yellow to deep reds.

This is due to the autumn colour of the leaves of our native trees. The trees are starting to go dormant this time of the year so therefore the leaves are starting to die back on the trees for the winter months.

This is what gives us the amazing array of colours on the leaves before the tree releases them for the winter months. This is sometimes referred to as the fall especially in America and Canada.

The colours you get are dependant on a lot of different factors, eg; Weather. Exposure of the site, soil types etc etc.

Here is a list of 5 trees that are commonly seen around the Irish countryside and provide good autumn colour.

  • Ash
  • Cherry
  • Birch
  • Beech
  • Mountain Ash

Ash Tree {Fraxinus Excelsior}

Ash is probably the most common tree you will see when travelling through the Irish countryside especially on ditches as it has a habit of suckering when cut back. This means it sends out several new shoots from the one cut stem. It tolerates most soil conditions but like most trees it thrives best on good free draining soil. Its timber is used in a wide variety of applications form Hurley making to furniture making.

There is a disease that came in from Europe called ash dieback affecting ash trees in Ireland. This is being carefully monitored by the relevant authorities.

Growth rate 2-3ft per year.

Cherry Tree{ Prunus}

The Cherry tree is a very common tree around the Irish countryside and the ornamental varieties are probable the most commonly used trees in Irish gardens.

The common cherry survives well in most conditions and is very good at seeding itself.

It has a lovely white flower in spring that turns to seed in the autumn.

Cherry leaves range in colour in the autumn from a bright yellow to a deep red colour.

Growth rate is between 1-2 feet per year.

Birch Tree {Betula Pendula}

The Birch Tree is a slight erect framed tree with light stems and relatively small leaves. There are two types of native birch mainly found in Ireland. Silver Birch and the Downy Birch. Both silver and downy give good autumn colour with their bright yellow leaves.

The downy Birch tree is the mast commonly found one as it tolerated poor soil conditions and also wet soil conditions. The Silver birch needs relatively good drainage. Its root system is not intrusive so therefore it can be planted relatively close to developments etc. Its catkins contain seed which can be eaten by birds and wildlife in the winter months. Silver birch is often used in gardens because of the striking colour from is silver bark in the winter months.

Growth rate is between 1-2 feet per year.

Beech Tree {Fagus Sylvatica}

Beech is a deciduous tree that actually holds onto the dead leaf for the winter . It’s the new leaf in the spring actually shoves off the old leaf. It provides lovely colours in the autumn while turning form green to yellow and then to red and then the usual coppery brown colour we are most accustomed to around the Irish country side in the winter months. If left unchecked beech can grow into a massive tree that are ideal for parkland settings etc.

Beech is available in both green beech and copper beech.

Growth rate is about 12 inches per year.

Mountain Ash Tree {Sorbus Aucuparia}

The Mountain Ash tree or more commonly known in Ireland as the rowan tree is widely seen around the Irish countryside. Its leaves range in colour from yellow to a striking bright red. Like the birch it too grows in an upright manner and doesn’t encroach on neighbouring developments etc. It is often seen on hill sides as it will tolerate poor soil conditions.

Its creamy white flowers turn to bright red berries in the autumn therefore providing lots of food for the birds. The leaves turn yellow and red in the autumn and give it great autumn colour. Like the silver Birch it is often used in gardens due to its compact growing nature.

Growth rate is between 9 inches to 1ft per year.

Above is a list of five trees that I think provide excellent colour in the autumn months before the dreary winter.

About The Author

Adrian Byrne, NC. NDip. Horticulture

All about hedging and trees, planting, care and maintenance advice as well as celebrating their many benefits.