Autumn Leaves at The Mains of Drum

Kaleidoscope of Colours

Choose a crisp, sunny day and take a walk, or drive, around Royal Deeside and enjoy the spectacular autumn scenery. Woodlands are losing their summer greens and changing to dazzling shades of golden yellow, copper, bronze and wine red.
Enjoy autumn colour in your own garden by planting a shrub or tree that has superb autumn foliage. Here are some examples:

Cotinus (Smoke bush)
Hydrangea quercifolia (Oak-leaved hydrangea)
Acer (Maple)
Amelanchier (Snowy mespilus)
Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Candyfloss tree)
Euonymus alatus (Winged spindle tree)
Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ (Copper beech)
Gingko biloba (Maidenhair tree)
Liquidamber styraciflua (Sweet gum)
Quercus coccinea ‘Splendens’ (Scarlet oak)
Rhus typhina (Stag’s horn sumach)
Sorbus (Rowan)


The Science of Leaf Fall

As autumn approaches the days grow shorter, temperatures fall and the leaves of non-evergreen trees and shrubs shut down and fall. During this process (known as senescence) leaves lose their green colour to reveal dazzling shades of orange, yellow and red. These colours are already present, but have been masked by the green colour. As the green pigment, chlorophyll, breaks down, nutrients are salvaged and moved to other parts of the plant. Finally the layer of cells that connect the leaf to the stem dies and the leaf falls off. Leaf senescence and fall allow the plant to survive the cold, harsh winter months. Fresh, new leaves grow in spring as the temperature warms up.


Making Leaf Mould

The Mains of Drum gardener, Jon, collects the fallen autumn leaves from around the grounds to make leaf mould. Leaf mould has many uses around the garden:
It makes a wonderful soil conditioner and mulch. Well-rotted leaf mould can be sieved and used for seed sowing. When mixed with equal parts of sharp sand and top soil it can be used as potting compost. It can also be used on lawns as a top dressing.Pile up the leaves and leave them for at least two years to break down into crumbly, black leaf mould. Keep the leaf pile moist and turn it regularly. Leaves from beech, hornbeam and oak break down the quickest and make good quality leaf mould.

Jane Bingham
26 October 2017