Go to Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire this week and make straight for the Acer Glade. The effect is dramatic. Seeing such an impressive collection of autumn colouring acers will indelibly stamp a picture in your memory that will remain forever.

Shades and tints of copper, orange, bronze and scarlet reflect a coal fire glow when lit by the autumn sun. Each and every leaf responds to nature's call and in unison, they draw a canopy of complementary colours over their supporting branches.

The acer family has always been renowned for providing some of the great classical shrubs of the horticultural world like the low growing Discectum Atropurpureum or the soft yellow Japonicum Aureum.

Flaming autumn colours

Both are excellent acers for the garden particularly with their first flush of spring colour, but cannot hold a light to Heptalobum Osakazuki for flaming autumn colours.

Osakazuki matures from a mid-green in spring through to a deeper olive green by summer before exploding to fiery scarlet before the fall. It is undoubtedly the most brilliant of all late colouring acers. Though fairly slow growing it will eventually form a large bush or small tree with a low, rounded head. 

Plant Osakazuki in association with camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas and other woodland shrubs in moist well-drained soil. Alternatively, grow it in isolation as a specimen feature plant but ensure it receives some protection from the cold east wind. For it is the one element that will eventually blow the Osakazuki fire out.

If you want to purchase an acer for your garden, I suggest you contact your local Independent Garden Centre for stock availability.