Mahonia x media 'Winter Sun'. Most of the shrubs and trees featured here provide autumn colour through turning foliage. However, the evergreen mahonias add to the autumn display by producing their long racemes of scented flowers at this time. The best garden plants resulted from hybridisation between the rather tender Chinese M. lomariifolia and M. japonica. The best known are this variety, 'Charity' and 'Lionel Fortescue. Moorbank Garden, Newcastle, now defunct.

As evergreen shrubs in the Berberidaceae, one would not expect Mahonias to deliver autumn colour. However, some species do provide superb reddish or purplish colouring at the onset of colder weather. In some cases, leaves that colour will be shed during the winter months, but in other cases as in the dwarf creeping M. repens from north America, they regain green tints the following spring. Knightshayes, Devon.

Few Malus, apples, have good autumn foliage colours. However in some the fruits themselves can be highly decorative and are grown for this purpose. This is one of the most popular hybrids, Malus 'Golden Hornet', before the leaves have fallen. Englefield Park, near Reading, UK.

Malus 'Golden Hornet'. Reading, UK.

Malus prattii is a delightful small western Chinese crab tree with orange fruits. It is rare and not often seen in gardens. Howick Hall, Northumberland.

Malus x robusta 'Red Siberian'. Kew, UK. One of the best of the red-fruited crab tree hybrids with fruits which remain most of the winter. Other good hybrids include 'Red Sentinel' and 'John Downie'.

Malus transitoria is rarely seen, but is one of the best crabs for coloured fruit. It is a native of NW China which forms a small but widely spreading tree. Wisley, UK.

Matteucia struthiopteris, the Ostrich Fern. Dunster, Somerset. One rarely looks to ferns for autumn colour, although bracken, Pteridium aquilinum adds greatly to the British autumn, and some species such as the Royal Fern, Osmunda regalis, make a real impact. I was greatly struck by the russet tones and architectural splendour of the Ostrich fern, native elsewhere in Europe, as it dies down for the winter.

Morus alba. White Mulberry. This species of ancient cultivation in China, both for its luscious fruits and for the culture of silkworms, probably originates from central Asia. It is partial;ly deciduous and then colours well, but in warmer districts it keeps its leaves which helps in the production of silk. Kew, UK.

Like other myrtles, Myrtus luma, also known as Luma apiculata, is evergreen, so the leaves do not colour noticeably in autumn. However, the splendid orange boles are amongst the main features of this excellent small Chilean tree, and these are particularly striking in the later months of the year. Holker Hall, Cumbria.

Myrtus luma. Howick Hall, Northumberland.

Nyssa sylvatica, the Tupelo, is the best known member of a small genus in its own family (Nyssaceae) which shares thre well-known disjunction between eastern North America and western China. Not easy to establish and liking an acidic soil and shelter, they are not common in collections, but well worth growing for the autumn tints. Holker Hall, Cumbria.

Nyssa sylvatica. Kew, UK.

Onoclea sensibilis. Sensitive Fern. This north American Fern will cover large areas of damp woodland garden, but has highly attractive foliage, especially in autumn. Muncaster Castle, Cumbria.

Oxydendrum arboreum. Sorrel Tree. This Ericaceous shrub from eastern North America is mostly grown for excellent autumn tones, although it produces racemes of whitish bells in spring and the leaves are pleasantly acidic tasting. It is often spelled Oxydendron. Knightshayes, Devon.

Parrotia persica, the Persian Ironwood, is one of the finest small to medium trees for autumn colour. It originates from woodlands in the mountains above the Caspian Sea and is related to the Witch Hazels (Hamamelideaceae). The leaves are very similar, but the flowers of Parrotia, borne on the bare wood in March are small but brilliant scarlet. As a tree it has a wide gnarled branching habit, and it can cover many square metres of ground if not pruned. Authors garden, Hexham, UK.

Parrotia autumn foliage after an October snowstorm. Hexham UK.

Unexpectly perhaps, Parrotia is in fact named for the parrot-like colours of its autumn foliage which can colour for months before dropping and tints of green, yellow and red occur together producing a fanciful resemblance to the plumage of some parrots.

Parrotia persica is fairly invariable, but 'Vanessa' has been selected for the deeper tones of its foliage. Holker Hall, Cumbria.

Parthernocissus quinquefolia, the Virginia Creeper, is one of two popular north American vines (Vitaceae) which are popularly used to cover walls as they are self-clinging. The species name means 'five leaved' which is misleading as each leaf has five lobes, unlike the Boston Ivy, P. tricuspidata, which has three-lobed leaves. Useful as these creepers are, they can submerge, and potentially damage, properties. Authors garage, Hexham, UK.

Both Virginia Creeper and Boston Ivy are deciduous and develop spectacular autumn colours, usually a fiery red. Plas Newydd, Anglesey.

Photinias are essentially evergreen members of the Rosaceae with typical, rather sorbus-like red berries. They are best known for the flaming red colours of the spring growth of some, especially the P. x fraseri hybrids of which the familiar 'Red Robin' is by far the most popular. Much classier, dare one say, is P. davidiana from western China. For many years I knew this as Stransvaesia davidiana and treasured it as a small tree with exciting autumn Jacob's coat colours, caused by a partially deciduous habit. The berries are far less interesting, but at best this can be a sensationally good plant of which there are fastigiate and prostrate growth forms. Knightshayes, Devon.

Photinia davidiana. Berries, close. Moorbank Garden, Newcastle.

Photinia villosa var. sinica. Unlike the other species, this crataegus-like species is deciduous. It originates from Japan and China and is intolerant of lime. It is best known for its hawthorn-like fruits which are freely borne, but in some situations it can colour red in autumn foliage. Thorpe Perrow, Yorks.