The great advantage of places such as ‘Bolobek’ is that they have room for a whole slew of deciduous trees and shrubs that flare up at this time of year.
In smaller city gardens you have to be more selective with your autumn colour. Instead of a “crab apple walk” like at ‘Bolobek’ you might choose one feature crab apple, such as the white flowering Malus trilobata that gets to a height of seven metres but a width of only about three metres and that really puts on a show at this time of year.
Or you can colour up autumn with a Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’, which is about five metres tall and five metres across, a Chinese pistachio (Pistacia chinensis), which stretches to eight metres tall and six metres wide, or fail-safe Japanese maples. Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’, which at about six metres high and four metres across, is considered relatively compact. If space is limited, smaller Japanese maple cultivars that reach less than three metres, such as Acer palmatum ‘Butterfly’ or Acer palmatum ‘Bonfire’, are best for long-term container growing.
Those who are really short on ground space might opt for climbers, such as Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Boston ivy), Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) or, even in shady spots, Parthenocissus henryana. The added advantage of P. henryana is that it is not quite as vigorous as the other two and so can work better in smaller spaces.
Whatever autumn colour you choose, you’ll end up with the added bonus of dried leaves to make leaf mould that can be returned to the plants next year.
To pre-book tickets to ‘Bolobek’ this weekend, go to opengardensvictoria.org.au.